I just returned... shit it's been a week, unbelievable! So I recently returned from my first writer's workshop / conference. I was invited by my friend and poetry coach, Bev. In retrospect I'm uncertain why it took me so long to get myself to a seminar around the written word. In a time of frugal thinking I traded my annual photography workshop time and money to experiment with writing. Was I intimidated? unaware? uninterested? Did I deem the topic overwhelming or just unessential... All these questions mere curiosities as I enjoyed it immensely and will be going back, definitely! I believe I was also fortunate to lucky, perhaps my true self was just waiting for the "right" writing conference to present itself. The Green Mountain Writer's Conference is an "anti-conference" or the antidote to the typical writer's workshop... I'll have to take their collective "word for it" as this was my first one. The next few posts I create will provide more insights and information as I "spread the love" over several days here.
I enrolled serendipitously in Justen Ahren's morning intensive, website description: "Justen Ahren will lead a workshop entitled A Devotion to Writing. This is designed for writers across the genres. Borrowing from principles found in monastic practices throughout the world, each day Justen will lead discussion on a different topic, such as surrender, gratitude and intention and tie the discussion to several writing prompts. The idea is to help you develop strategies to stay on task, to find time in our busy lives for writing, to learn how to concentrate." Even though I have the practice of morning pages and daily stream of consciousness writing, this appealed to me and ended up being an amazing platform for "jumping off and jumping in!"
OK... Here's a piece I wrote on the third day... the prompt: "the things I carry"
Justen set the scene by describing how he witnessed monks taking a small bowl out each morning to beg for their food for the day... bring a small bowl to your higher power and ask for what you need without judgement or expectations...
The Things I Carry:
The bowl is small and so the pack, the canteen, the blanket, the cup, the spoon, the bags and containers. Because life is short and uncertain.
Because life is short and uncertain I carry too much - too many. I stuff myself and my mind as if there is no tomorrow. What I carry is the fear of an unfulfilling future. I walk around with pillows tied around me, bumper guards - a giant jock strap around my chin - shin guards and steel toed boots. All of this weighing me down - physically - emotionally - intellectually - spiritually. Not just hanging... but clanging and dragging and catching on things as I lumber past.
Peeling it off layer by layer - inch by inch - item by item is drudgery THEN enlightening; ferocious and unfathomable THEN blessed and bright. I may imagine a breakthrough only to discover in short order yet another murky - moody - mulchy - layer of moldy shit. Fuck! Is there no end to this?!
Let's take food for example... I know less is more. Smaller amounts of delicious tastiness is perfectly satisfying and wonderful. I feel airy and light and energized - "I feel MARVELOUS - just MARVELOUS..."
And then I look down to see my hand going for another - then another - pre-programmed - mindless - unconscious - even as I witness the packing on and stuffing in.
Is there some mysterious, untouchable lesson yet to fucking learn? Reveal yourself already! Is it stuffed anger that calls for the extra turkey stuffing? Is it fear - or grief - or loneliness? Perhaps a lack of self confidence or support?
What the fuck? I keep asking faithfully and faithfully, in Spirit's time, I will be answered. I'll strip off the jock strap and shin guards - perhaps a pillow or bumper or two or ten and remember it's SAFE (BIG SIGH) and I'm OK and all is right with the world.
P.S. Hurry up - please -
Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. -- Thich Nhat Hanh
At The T-Shirt Factory in Glens Falls I discovered Pottery, Tea & Crystals of all sorts. My fabulous and magical journey continues to unfold daily in amazing and wonderful ways. (Knock wood.) My gratitude is a fountain ever flowing over and over in the center of my piazza. (Nice image for gratitude, that, ever present, ever flowing and at the center of everything!)
As one of the tasks in one of the three Julia Cameron programs I'm playing with weekly with friends... I think it was for the Never Too Late to Begin Again... I was asked to create a list of 25 things I LOVE... This was MUCH harder than I had imagined it would be. MUCH more difficult. It was also an incredibly marvelous mind / thought toy. When I am gardening or driving and notice that a particularly un-flattering or negative thought pattern is run amok I can switch / flip over to considering what are some things I truly, truly LOVE in life. What an amazing alternative to pessimistic - future fearful - or just plain stupid thought spirals! I dig it. I have, of course, surpassed the original 25 and created categories for top ten lists... Top 10 Things... (Fire, Sky, Thunderstorms, My Jeep, Books, Office Supplies, Surprise Presents via US Mail, etc.) Top 10 Activities (Gardening, Writing, Organizing, etc.) Top Ten SMELLS (Baking Bread, honeysuckle, jasmine, sandalwood), Top Ten People (Christian, Mom, John, Renee, Pam, Melissa, Shirley, etc.), Top Ten Songs/Music, Top Ten Foods, Top Ten Beverages (Coffee... OMG!)... you get the idea.
It has truly assisted me in distinguishing out what I love from what I like or tolerate. I can also have fun with/for myself and send myself something in the mail and bake bread or learn to make tom yum goong nam khon (ต้มยำกุ้งน้ำข้น) a Thai soup that I LOVE... So in addition to a thought toy I can also create a fun to do list of projects I would love.
It's interesting to discover that I have developed preferences, of course, over the course of life. I can also readily identify those things that I DON"T LOVE... or LIKE. The LOVE exercise has rendered an internal conversation and debate about what LOVE is and then what it feels like, tastes like, smells like, sounds like, where to get it, when I had it last... or NOT... to savor in memory to attempt to reproduce or simply appreciate more in the very moment I'm in. Wow, How Wonderful, Fascinating and Curious, Yeah!!
More to come later on my connection to the Greek Mythology of Cassandra and my discovery of a new author Sonia Choquette. In case I forget ;-)
I went to a wonderful workshop "Creative Myths & Monsters - The Artist's Way" presented by Julia Cameron and hosted by Kripalu last weekend. It seems like a year away already, it's unreal and crazy how time flies.
I don't have the time or inclination to share all the details and amazing breakthroughs that have resulted from that shared time and since, at least not at this moment. Suffice it to say that I highly recommend the book... and that's the understatement of the century. The tools provided by the process of awakening your creative self in The Artist's Way are beyond miraculous. There is also paradox in their simplicity... paradox as you know, is a requirement of mine.
I will detail breakthroughs in coming posts but for now... a poem straight from my morning pages...
Just A Little Diggin'
What is buried
Ain't so hard
Just a little diggin'
Just a little spade
Just a little time
You gotta push
the dirt back from the hole.
You gotta make space.
Sort the weeds.
Spread that dirt out a bit.
Integrate it, what's bein' dug up!
What you'll find.
Not all the world
Can tell you.
Gifts - for sure.
Shiny or smudgy
Seems like buried treasures
Seems like - maybe
I buried them long ago
for me to find...?
Not all the world
can tell you,
but you'll know.
Just a little diggin'
Just a little spade
Just a little time
And smilin' !
Post Script... I've been amazed how often the previous post has shown up in my mind chatter. Did I say that?? OMG... I should qualify, change, or Jesus... just erase the whole post.
Who do I think I am?
I haven't changed it. BTW. I've learned a lot about my true self by writing it to begin with and by sitting with it. Who will judge me? Does it matter? Is it representative of what I really think/feel?
Discussing the topic with friends yesterday and remembering the following Tolle quotes... I don't need to defend... I need to remember it's not personal and choose one of the most effective responses which is nonreaction... (Chapter 3 page 62)
Three aspects to true freedom and enlightened living according to Tolle
(A New Earth Chapter 8 page 225):
That's interesting... in the words of the Zen Master... "Is that so?" So I'm hanging out today not spreading black mulch in the rain. Grateful for the time to just BE and not do or go anywhere. I happened upon this TED Talk by Luvvie Ajayi - Get Comfortable With Being... Uncomfortable.
Listening to her choked me up. Excellent! I'm no domino! ... Maybe?
I guess I've finally had enough and that's saying something folks because it really takes a lot to prod me to talk about politics. For the record I am an Independent and I voted for Trump. In general I don't give a good holy shit about politics.
For the record, I'm not politically "informed" about anything and I admit it. There, you don't have to go hunting through my past to "reveal" me as politically ignorant. I also voted for Obama. OMG, I know, the horror of it all. I formally vote to support balance of power with the parties. Either party in charge too long, in my humble opinion, is a recipe for national disaster. No one is right 100% and no one is wrong 100%. Respect, flexibility, open-mindedness, moderation and balance has worked for me, personally. I also grow tired of the sound of their voices!
For the record, I like the fact that Trump has stirred up so much conversation. I think that's called democracy...? I also have noticed that a lot of my friends are VERY liberal and VERY judgmental. Yikes!! I respect the decision of the majority and I think everyone should. Perhaps Trump is a bit abrasive... hee hee... he's not the first president to rub people the wrong way and won't be the last... thank goodness!
For the record I've never been a big fan of the media and their VERY slanted and not so subtle opinions about everything. I can't even find truly non-biased reporting on NPR. It's a little frightening, actually. The incredible un-ending fear mongering is so normal I don't think people even notice it any longer!! I haven't watched network news for DECADES!!
For the record, there is nothing news worthy (to me) about fake news... really? What took everyone so long? I haven't had an iota of faith or taken stock in ANY statistic, poll, survey or other such source of "fact" since my freshman statistic courses in college. It was perfectly clear to me after only two semesters that any stat could be twisted to mean anything anyone wanted to... simple, adjust the results, the sample size, the sample circumstances, the wording of a question or outcome... you name it. All very legitimately in the statistics world, too, by the way.
For the record... guns don't kill people, people kill people. Enforce the fucking laws on the books instead of making new ones. Seriously!
For the record... what you resist persists, try some different approaches when wars on things are NOT working, just sayin'. We are bright, creative people, right?
For the record I don't want the laws/government in the car with me... or in my pantry or refrigerator telling me to wear a seat belt, have tire pressure gauges or not to eat trans fats or sugar. I'm a fucking adult and I can manage my own tire pressure and decide what to eat on my own, thank you very much.
For the record, just now, I had momentary hesitation about speaking my mind. Afraid of retribution in some way. THAT'S not healthy in a democracy. I had a friend call anyone who voted for Trump an idiot... I had another friend say that Trump is shaming the office of president... Maybe the time has come for the people to remember it's everyone's country and a bit of respect goes a long way. For everyone!
Ok... then. I'm done thinking about it for another ten years or so. Good grief people! This too shall pass!
Here's a poem that came to me 4/23 and was more than a bit prophetic. The day after I participated in a Jeep Offroad playground event... I'll explain more after you read it...
I was brave
I was courageous
I was sociable
I was helpful
I was fun
I was supportive
I was excited
I was expressive
I was enthusiastic
I was ME!
Enough about yesterday.
What am I being today?
It was a pathway moment.
I don't even know what I mean by that.
I sense a path
Unfolding - unrolling
A path of my design
Yet unknown to me
In it's subtlety & nuances.
I feel the road is rising
The air clearer
The sky a bit brighter
Or just different.
I do feel an opening
A new door
A new room
A new way of SEEING.
Something lifts (again)
Eases the struggle
Lightens the mood
An agreement is reached
A new treaty
Ready to be signed
All parties aligned
On this for now
For always on this
What is "it"?
Just a new way of being
A sensing of everything
In a new way.
A partnership - true - existing
Since the beginning - always -
Is newly ratifited - clarified
Released and surrendered.
Into a partnership
or RELATE - TION - SHIP
There have been two HUGE breakthroughs in the last bit... I think I wrote about one... the tri part beingness... the openness now to just experiencing my body without expectations or judgement is a monumental shift. I'm constantly reminding myself of... checking my thoughts. The whole idea that my-ness includes such an incredible, intelligent, grounded amazing "machine." Fucking Wow!! Everything is miraculous every moment... when I remember to be present which is more and more often. Tolle videos are amazing also... so concise and clear and resonating with me. Check it out... THE POWER OF PRESENCE...
That is all for today. Oh, I remembered what LOVE feels like. More on that later.
My emotions are right under my skin lately ready to pop out at any moment. Shit! I was a speaker at a meeting this morning and I got choked up. I can get choked up at the drop of hat lately. I'm actually tuned in enough to cry on cue. I know the exact story to focus on to get it going. That's a lifetime first. Times were when nothing could make me cry!
I finished the 12 week Artist's Way program with a friend and we've started another one called Finding Water. I was moved, touched and inspired to start yet another program by Julia Cameron... It's Never Too Late to Begin Again... Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. The title of this one strikes a cord with numerous friends of mine! More than half the people I know can relate. The daily morning pages and weekly artist's date are now flanked by a twice weekly walk and a weekly exploration of my past in four year segments..
I've been listening to Conversations with God in the car... so check this shit out..
"You are a tri-part being, made of body, mind, and spirit. You will always be a tri-part being, not just while you are living on the Earth." (Let that shit sink in, like really!) There are those who hypothesize that upon death the body and the mind are dropped. The body and the mind are NOT dropped..... In truth you are all one energy, yet with three distinct characteristics..." (Book 1 page 181) So this blew my mind and I'm still processing. I was obviously raised in the school of death being the end of the body/mind part. God was a tri-part being Father, Son & Holy Spirit. More on all this later once I digest it further...
Today is a rainy day. We had two sunny ones in a row. I'm sitting at my favorite table in my observation lounge at Providence Lodge. The grackles are finishing off the suet and the rest of the rain swept yard is quiet. Yesterday there were at least eight tree swallows doing airborne gymnastics. I LOVE watching them. We have eight bird houses ready for occupancy. After watching them yesterday I think we may have a few new tenants. The new windows are in the garage to be installed soon. I'm moving rocks around. I feel great when I'm doing stuff outside. No big surprise there really.
I'm feeling a little "off" still. The anniversary thing, perhaps. I'm also experiencing a huge transitional space... I've spent more time now at Providence Lodge (I am calling it that, officially! I've decided it's FATE... ) I'm loving it more or at least as much as I imagined! It's over the top amazing and breathtaking in every way!
I think of posting probably once per day... the inner critic/censor attempts to berate and make me feel guilty for not posting. Sorry... that's not working out for the critic. I post when I'm inspired to do so... not because I should... just sayin'... so THERE!
Ken, a old friend, romantic partner and fiancee for a brief time... used to frequently use those very words to describe a myriad of truly wonderful things, experiences, thoughts, art, you name it. As a catch compliment it's uncommitted and borderline negative with a feeling of "it's OK now but could totally go south at any moment..." a bit of a mixture of a sigh of relief and a knocking on wood. I love it.
In this moment it came to mind when summing up my experience of poetry reading yesterday. It was a small crowd, thankfully, 2/3 of the people I invited appeared. The important ones, of course! The sky didn't fall, the earth did NOT come to an end. All is well. I'm ready to try it again, actually. There was something both liberating and satisfying in the actual speaking and the basking in the praises (of my very close friends, of course what else would they say!).
When people say "moving" - "inspiring" - "touching"... I think LANDMARK... so it was touching, moving and inspiring, awesome! What a hoot that a poem can have many lives. It came to me and helped me... then speaking it again it goes out and touches others. That's soooo cool! I guess, what's not to love about that! Full circle folks... I met Ken at Landmark Education LA. That's a wrap. Cafe Lena here I come =)
I believe it's a relatively well known fact that people tend to be afraid of the unknown. Perhaps because the imagination can fill in any gap or vacuum of information with a worst case scenario? Who knows... speaking for myself, in this moment, this day... I have my first ever public reading of my poetry. I'm speaking my poetry in public for the first time... I've posted the flyer to mark the day in history =) I also pasted it on my Facebook page! =)
I'm rather mellow... I profess to be afraid... I jokingly say that a blizzard today would be awesome... (my state of mind not much changed from my previous CAN wait for Spring sentiments). It's all very interesting and curious, really, that's all. I've practiced enough. Perhaps too much already I grow bored with the content myself. I want it to be fresh today.
Bev my writing/poetry coach has reviewed it with me including the intros and transitions. There will be people there... headliners, more in the spotlight and "famous" to distract any attention from me. It's all very perfect and low key. I just about said... and scarier than shit!
Rather than worse case scenario I'm creating fun and play and best case scenario or at worst... just an experience I can report back that I accomplished while planning my next life. When the topic of mid life poetry reading comes up - Been there, done that!
I am angry at Spring this year. I'm not ready. I'm not interested in the burgeoning, birthing, breakout time. I want more snow and cold and hibernation. I'm not really eager, enthusiastic or particularly happy that it's that time of year again. The intensity of my Spring irritation does come and go. There certainly are moments, with the snow up to my knees, that I have a fleeting image of grass and flip flops. My mind, however, immediately goes to 90+ degree humidity and weeds and mosquitoes. Oh Joy...
I'm just going on the record here. While everyone sings the praises of Spring and can't seem to keep their clothes on... I'm wistful and living in appreciation of snow and bundling up and cozy fires. By the time Spring actually arrives I'm sure I'll be on board with it (what choice do I have)... but in the mean time I'm loving any pre-spring-like, deep winter fling that comes my way.
There are so many irrational fears that run through my head on a moment by moment millisecond basis it's amazing that I am out and walking about at all. I used to be a bit condescending towards a friend who was a germaphobe or others who are afraid of travel or dirt and germs or spiders and snakes... I'm not afraid of natural things... people scare the shit out of me... apparently only because I CARE... the opposite of what I tell myself... that I DON'T care. How fucked up is that?!! If I REALLY didn't care then I wouldn't be so frightened.
I have to give myself some serious kudos that I am able to demonstrate the level of bravery that has gotten me though my life to date. The continued bravery is necessary for the most mundane day to day experiences and like cleaning house, the last layer of shit is the most revealing when it's finally lifted or cleared away.
And like so many other things... I am perfectly in sync and flow. I am ready to know and clear on my boundaries... many of them. I have learned to pause and check in and listen carefully before I respond or react. I couldn't face my internal judge until I was willing to stand up for something. I couldn't stand up for anything until I made some choices and took time to tune into my internal stations.
Now I can fiercely stand and kindly communicate my preferences. I can speak my fears if only to whisper them to myself. Wow that is BRAVE since I'm the harshest censor of all! Well done!
Peeling the onion as a metaphor for life... I'm done with it. It always kinda pissed me off... the never ending-ness of it and today I discovered a replacement that is just as appropriate and much more inspiring. I finished the 12 week course in the Artist's Way and not until the Epilogue does the image on the cover click!
Artist's Way Epilogue - Julia Cameron
"What I conjure now is a mountain of Himalayan proportions with a path winding upward to its height. That path, a spiral path, is how I think of the Artist's Way. As we pursue climbing it, we circle back on the same views, over and over, at slightly different altitudes. 'I've been here before,' we think, hitting a spell of drought. And, in a sense, we have been. The road is never straight. Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing and regrouping.
As artists, our progress is often dogged by rough terrain or storms. A fog may obscure the distance we have covered or the progress we have made toward our goal. While the occasional dazzling vista may grace us, it is really best to proceed a step at a time, focusing on the path beneath our feet as much of the heights still before us. The Artist's Way is a spiritual journey, a pilgrimage home to the self..."
The timeliness of this image is mind blowing! Truly! As I prepare for a poetry reading event I've been reviewing my journals from the 70's 80's and 90's. As usual I've found it disturbing how wise I was and how I seemed to forget lessons and insights so readily; disturbing and borderline depressing, actually. So depressing in fact I had taken solace in a recent On Being segment regarding depression... The Soul In Depression.
I was comforted beyond expression when I read the passage above this morning and understood, from a different perspective (altitude) we will experience the same views over and over and this is fine and normal. Progress, as I understand it does not apply to this pilgrimage. What a relief!
It's useful to discover and recover and identify the past and look at it only so long. The saying goes the past is in the rear view mirror but if you keep staring at it you'll run the car off the road. So... whatever the relationship was I'm choosing a different future.
How to begin? I don't consider myself very adept at developing relationships. I have, however, learned in the last few years a few things. Time is important. Dedicated - uninterrupted time to be with the other and listen and share. This builds intimacy, shared experiences, memories, relate-able events and moments to draw on for future reference.
That's all. That's were to begin. A body date, I'll call it something interesting and fun and set aside the time... not to exercise, specifically... more to come, stay tuned.
I wrote a poem recently the first ever.... where I express some appreciation for my physical being. The Temple.... it's on the poetry page. My body is an amazing "machine"... with more wisdom in the cells in my little finger than any doctor... let's see them grow a finger nail or heal a cut. I appreciate the knowledge and wisdom right under my nose... I'm intimidated by getting to know more about it and communicate with it. Obviously there are billions of dollars of products and services designed to assist me in the pursuit. No thanks... for now. Wow! (see ads below)
I also had a little wake up call and realized that my body has also tortured me and almost killed me. If I hadn't been paying attention, I WOULD BE DEAD... I escaped Melanoma with a couple of surgeries when I was 20 something. If I had listened to the first dermatologist I saw, I would be no longer among the living right now. Right now my knee is being weird and my elbow is pissy. It's more like a relationship of tolerance and annoyance, frustration and cohabitation out of necessity than a partnership or friendship... or love relationship.
Two additional thoughts... I'm NOT COMPLAINING... I could be riddled with some bizarre ailment or disease that consumes my every energy or even a large percentage of my time and money. I respect and honor those among us who have challenges in these areas! I'm just noticing my love hate --- awakening relationship with my physical being.
Perhaps it's an age conversation... it is, after all, very FUCKING impossible to ignore HOT FLASHES... and tender private parts and belly fat. The fact is, aside from standard human maintenance, two surgeries, two broken bones and a diet/exercise binge every 10-15 years I never even gave my body a second thought. Sex was the only really pleasurable experience... I've never been into any type of consistent exercise program... (once in NYC for 6 months).
I'm open to creating a daily dialog. Meditation does make that easier to play with. And apparently muscles quickly go down hill after 50 if you don't fucking exercise... Eating and the amount of food and the things I like to eat are certainly also more at issue and changing. Anyhow... just noticing and curious where my inner guide will go from here. A rock solid loving relationship or the ongoing mutual toleration... time will tell. I am pretty sure I'm not on track to be a yoga guru... just sayin'.
I'm not recommending either of the systems/products below... just pointing them out as mentioned in the intro paragraph. It's a thing... so I'm just basically behind the eight ball and still totally not unique at all... just sayin'...
The only time I've ever had to appear in court is regarding a traffic ticket. And except for an unfortunate incident with an expired license when I was 18, even those court experiences were voluntary. Allow me to take this moment to stress how incredibly grateful I am that this is the case (in point) in my life. I, of course, have intentionally avoided any incidents that would require a court appearance of any kind... at any cost... but I also acknowledge that there is some luck and fate and fucking kismet/karma involved as well. So officially, for the records... thank you Universe and I'm knocking on wood as I say this.
I have a friend who is a family attorney. She also chooses to go to court. It's her job. Wow... just wow...
I had an opportunity to observe a hearing...? not sure if that's the word... an appearance? in family court in Ballston Spa NY. The outcome was a settlement. I found the process interesting... it reminded me of the extensive contract negotiations I participated in with NYC/Board of Education and School Link Tech in my last corporate project. There's a bit of paper with lots of words... my project contract was easily 100 times longer and more detailed than the situation yesterday... but either way... there is paper with words describing acceptable behaviors of humans and delivery of goods and services. There are timelines and schedules laid out in detail and contingencies in the event that life intervenes (shit happens) and things don't fall out as expected and it's no ones' "fault." There are even some penalties described in the event of "breech"... All very run of the mill really, business as usual...
Except... the parties involved yesterday needed the lawyers to even finalize the details of the words on paper. The parties were not mutually agreeable enough to be reasonable.... (all that nasty water under many nasty bridges, seriously nasty shit flowing). There was also a judge involved to make it official and enforceable. I didn't have to deal with that with business contracts. Finally there was a lot of emotion involved and the direct welfare of children. While my business contracts had a daily impact on children, thousands of them, it was lunch or breakfast time at school... not who they went home to after school or helped them with their homework or tucked them in at night.
So this is just where I'm at right here in this moment in time... but I walked away grateful that I never married and had children. I have no idea what the divorce rate is currently but I get the feeling that it's not good... and wow people can be real pricks and pistols. Especially, it seems, the ones who used to be passionately and "forever" in love with each other.
Oh, and, I totally admire the people like my friend the family attorney, the judges and guards and court reporters who try there best day in and day out to help stressed out emotional people be reasonable and civil to each other...
So to bring this full circle and explain the image I included today... It's good to keep shit in fucking perspective. I am grateful for an incredibly huge number of things. I'm not a refugee with NOTHING - fleeing for my life from my own government. My best friend didn't die yesterday.... little things. Thanks & Knocking!
Lately I feel as though I'm constantly unpacking and processing and evaluating thoughts and ideas and feelings. I've intentionally decided to reduce my exposure to more stimulation in order to sit with what I already have spinning around. The world at large seems to conspire against my intention. I keep stumbling into rooms full of boxes, old and new, that need to be processed, unpacked and sorted (metaphorically and physically).
I feel as though I have to be on guard and have shields raised constantly to protect my quiet time of contemplation. My plans, my friends, my family, my obligations (real and imagined) my expectations (real and imagined) and all sorts of visual and physical queues interrupt and distract the crap out of me.
Time-warp... Like helping a client to downsize and pack for a move... the stuff of thoughts is scattered throughout the house. I find in the attic things that belong in the basement and while going through the kitchen - toiletries appear. These "mis-placed" items sit in a holding area with a label. In limbo yet identified. Once they rejoin their specific area of mutual interest or use they have to be integrated - duplicates removed, expiration dates considered, overall appearance and condition weighed. All sorts of mental gymnastics ensue. It is complicated and can be hard work if it's not guided by some process and FREE of DISTRACTIONS. It takes courage and the freedom to make mistakes and lots of time to walk away then revisit and reconsider.
I have, I think, the core principles and practices which will allow me to establish a new way of being and living with food and my body and exercise... I think all the ingredients have been found around the house, sorted and labeled. They may even be free of limbo in the basement or attic and are living in the same room of the house. They just need to be unpacked, integrated and prioritized and assessed the last steps before re-packing them neatly for a move. Here's where the metaphor gets complicated compared to life. I AM moving and wondering if I should wait to go through this thought process... but I'm not inclined to wait any longer... so it will - it may change once I've moved. It will be disrupted and re-placed into a new environment.
Perhaps this is just "what's meant to be..." (no surprise). As I process, unpack and pack on this end and live for several months with the decisions and epiphanies. I will have learned a huddle of new distinctions and gained new insights for the "final" unpacking in June.
If you are confused... that's ok, me too, that's why I write it out (over and over). I'll sort and label, process, move and unpack inside this house (my mind) many times before thoughts are ready for the actual final pack and move experience (the "miracle" the switch flipping).
The final "unpacking" is a different animal altogether - it happens to be an entirely new beginning, unknown, magical and off in the future some distance at the moment not really under consideration.... =) HA! That does help clear it up!? =) It's all frighteningly fucking ironic considering what I once did for a living.
From: your true home - the everyday wisdom of thich nhat hanh
Habit energy is pushing us; it pushes us to do things without our being aware. Sometimes we do something without knowing we're doing it. Even when we don't want to do something, we still do it. Sometimes we say, "I didn't want to do it, but it's stronger than me, it pushed me." So that is a seed, a habit energy, which may have come from many generations in the past.
We have inherited a lot. With mindfulness, we can become aware of the habit energy that has been passes down to us. We might see that our parents or grandparents were also very weak in ways similar to us. We can be aware, without judgement, that our negative habits come from these ancestral roots. We can SMILE at our shortcomings, at our habit energy. With awareness, we have a choice: we can act another way. We can end the cycle of suffering right now.
The Miraculous Smile
In our face there are dozens of muscles, and when we're angry or afraid, those muscles hold a lot of tension. But if we know to BREATHE in and be AWARE of them, and BREATHE OUT and SMILE to them, we can help them release the tension. Our face can be completely different after one-in-breath and out-breath. A smile can bring a miracle.
It's probably no accident that these two entries are facing pages in the book. This is perhaps the best advice I've received regarding life in quite some time! My "resistance" isn't a fatal flaw or a death bell it's just habit energy I inherited. Nice! Thank you Universe!
I attended a Northeast Regional AA Service Assembly last weekend... my first big AA conference. It was a three hour drive and I drove and roomed with a woman, Christine, that I met at the monthly District meeting. There were over 1000 people in attendance from 11 states (ME, VT, DE, NH, MA, CT, NY, NJ, RI, MD & PA). It still boggles my mind how many states are crammed in close together... the perspective of a Colorado native.
I was in observation mode. I had no idea what to expect. The program was not available until we arrived. (That was about the only evaluation comment I had - "An agenda online in advance would have been helpful.) I also have to separate out, my experience with Christine, for now and comment on the conference. I want to be alone, now that it's over and I'm home. I really don't enjoy being around so many people at once... even sober (myself and the others). When people ask how it was... (I'm still processing...) interesting is about all I can come up with. So... let's take a look at "interesting" and go from there.
1. engaging or exciting and holding the attention or curiosity.
2. arousing a feeling of interest
The definition of interest goes on and on... all good things. The word is actually a PERFECT match to my feelings, (minus any negative implied cultural association). I was going to delete the "example sentences" to save room... silly me! the examples are helpful and I changed them to match my situation.
1. the feeling of a person whose attention, concern, or curiosity is particularly engaged by something: She has a great interest in the workings of AA.
2. something that concerns, involves, draws the attention of, or arouses the curiosity of a person: Her interests are sobriety and growth through participation in AA.
3. power of exciting such concern, involvement, etc.; quality of being interesting: AA issues of great interest.
4. concern; importance: experiences of a higher power are a matter of primary interest.
5. a business, cause, or the like in which a person has a share, concern, responsibility, etc.
6. a share, right, or title in the ownership of property, in a commercial or financial undertaking, or the like: He bought half an interest in the store.
7. a participation in or concern for a cause, advantage, responsibility, etc.
8. a number or group of persons, or a party, financially interested in the same business, industry, or enterprise: the banking interest
To be continued...
I just posted a journal entry from March 2001... 17 years ago. It's worth reading, I guess, if you want perspective on what I'm going to write today. It's not complicated... I am basically frustrated and seem to be stuck in a loop. The drug of choice, the blocking tool changes or has changed in the last 4 years from alcohol to cigarettes and food to only food. Reading the entry for that date and a few after that... I wrote myself...
"Addiction is what you do to feel safe."
I still don't feel safe, apparently. Or, being a bit more kind to myself. I'm in fucking recovery and working on feeling safer and safer every day. I don't think I'm afraid to be happy. Maybe I am afraid to express my potential... it scares me because it's uncomfortable and unfamilar. Unknown!
Clarity has such an odd way of presenting itself. Rather bit by bit and puzzle piece followed by a piece from a different puzzle entirely. Fabulous really. The one consistent thing is change and the unexpected unpredictable nature of it all I suppose.
I came to notice recently how utterly god damn pissed off I was - at myself - for blatantly and repeatedly ignoring every plan that I devised to manage my eating. Day after day new plan... blow it... new plan... nope blunder... a twist to yet another new plan... BIG fumble, Cresent Gate (a run in with a package of cresent rolls, salami and pepper jack... Yum!).
The anger came later, upon weigh in time and reflection and with significant indigent frustrated pissed off-ness. Fuck you! Really! You have no respect!! What the fuck?! Why bother!? I am not nice to myself, true, but I also totally disrespect myself over and over. Jeez!
This reminds me... dejavu-ness... of trying to stop drinking and quit smoking. There were repeated eerie moments of virtual amnesia, yes, also familiar. No thought let alone argument or discussion. Day after day, plan after plan the same thing happened around the same time of day... the witching hour... 3pm. Once the plan was compromised all bets were off. How many times just in the last six months have I been oh so certain that I had finally figured it out? Apparent breakthrough after epiphany and still not working.
The Artist's way describes the situation as creative blocks. Week 10 - Dangers of the Trail. Shit! She describes my relationship to food exactly. But I never really thought of it as an expression of fear... avoidance... resistance, perhaps, sabotage for sure. I don't have the time or energy to go through the whole logical sequence right now. I'm not sure I care or that it matters really. It feels like just another pseudo milestone. I wont' know until I know for a couple of days strung together. Right now I have a new view... a new appreciation of faith in free falling. The anxiety and out of control-ness is fuel...
"As we become aware of our blocking devices... the blocks will no longer work effectively. Over time, we will try - perhaps slowly at first and erratically to RIDE OUT THE ANXIETY and see WHERE WE EMERGE. Anxiety is fuel...
"Anger is fuel. Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger points the way not just the finger..."
"The object of all this blocking is to alleviate FEAR. We turn to our drug of choice to block our creativity whenever we experience the anxiety of our inner emptiness. It is always FEAR - often disguised but ALWAYS there...
She doesn't say it but I know that I need to BREATHE along with my SURRENDER and PAUSE to fucking WONDER! Take a moment to consider my silent, sneaky, motives or fears or whatever the fuck is going on. AGAIN... STILL... Perhaps I will experience this scenario that she describes in the book:
Try: using the anxiety!
Feel: I just did it! I didn't block! I used the anxiety and moved ahead! OMG, I am excited!
That would be awesome... I'm creating using the anger and anxiety and mindlessness to move me forward. Good luck! Thanks! =)
I'm submitting some of my poetry for consideration for an upcoming poetry month event. I need to write a 2-3 minute "bit" about why I write poetry. So here we go.
I started out saying to myself... because... I "need" to. When I started to break that down by looking up the definition of need more useful words presented: necessity, requisite, urgent, requirement... still not quite hitting the proverbial nail... I do crave and long for something from poetry. I realized it's the ability to express a way of self declaration and intimate vulnerable way to reveal myself. This concise communication of my thoughts, experiences and feelings has always just flowed forth. There is an element of growth and processing and learning as well. Elements of my experience are solidified, truths revealed as well as the awareness of mysteries ongoing. Tools and perspectives are made available to me through my own self expression and review. There is an archival aspect as well. That the seeds may be thrown up and recorded so that they may be noticed and identified and planted years later. I am constantly surprised by the relevance I find re-reading things hours, days or years even decades later.
So I write to express, to reveal, to grow and to record. Always this pursuit has been for myself by myself and never shared. Only recently have I chosen to be more vulnerable by making it available to the world through my website. Now through this event and possibly through an open mike night... I'm living the dream. Why not share it!
People who know me have probably been waiting for this day to come. The day that Laurie Anne McCauley finally fucking figures out that life IS HARD! I just finished a Courage & Renewal Cohort retreat. I'm sitting in the library at the Bishop Booth Conference Center in Burlington, VT all alone. I stayed an extra night precisely to write and process what may be the most meaningful recent breakthrough. So settle in... I'm in a beautiful place and not in a hurry with a lot to sort through.
I have experienced things as easy that others have undyingly described as hard. Quitting smoking is the example I'll use. I rankle when people say it. Especially people who never smoked or quit smoking. "That's so,.,, HARD... Wasn't that the HARDEST thing ever?" and on and on. It pisses me off actually, (which should be a nod that there's something there for me to examine further.) My experience of not smoking is EASY... there is no desire to smoke,,, there is no temptation... no longing... no internal battle. The obsession has lifted. The process of quitting was annoying and required a lot of creativity, persistence and perseverance.... but that doesn't register as HARD... just tenacious endurance and necessity.
So maybe in my definition of Hard, I'm grasping at pins or smoke or something.,, oh straws, I'm grasping at straws... (that's a weird saying for Grant & Martha.) Anyway, you get the picture. It's fucked up and apparently I have been resisting anything that seems hard and just not doing it... Shit! Hello!?!
I can usually tweak my perspective, point of view, attitude and head space to convince myself that things are not "hard" but if it really is hard I simply avoid it. I don't think that's surrendering so guess what...? I'm surrendering my avoidance of things I perceive as hard. Or scary for that matter... but let's stick with hard for now. (See how I want to make it more and harder so I can avoid it!! I'll save scary surrender for another day.) I am REALLY attached to things being easy. I just realized I am really PROUD of the fact that things are easy for me, especially if others think it's hard. If it's not easy then it's not meant to happen or be or it's completely going to remove me from the "flow." Talk about convincing... I have no idea where it came from or how it protects me or why but I am adamantly secured to the concept of Ease and Grace in all things always. You can find blog posts about the untruth of "No Pain No Gain" and other rants about how unfair it is that the suffering is directly proportional to the gains realized. The fact that we are in a paradoxical, relative reality... I'm still fighting it!! Silly but true.
The situation with food and eating and adjusting my "in the moment" attitude is fucking hard, dammit! There's nothing easy about it. The fact that I have been wanting and waiting for it to be easy is, apparently, part of the fuel that fires it's continuation. There is no obsession to be lifted in this dilemma. There is a huge shift and complete 180 in thinking about time and logevity and food and self care. Things I have never really considered before without judgement or rules or fear or embarrassment or expectations.... without loads and piles and mountains of fucking baggage I didn't even know was there.
Here's the source of the breakthrough.... I have for my life written poetry, my entire life. It has been easy. So far there has been nothing hard about writing poetry. Anything that appeared as hard I promptly and completely evaded and deflected. It is and was always about and for me and only me. A form of self expression that I seldom shared or even felt the inclination to share. I also realize now that sharing risked vulnerability and judgement and all kinds of nasty possible feelings so it was easier to just keep it to myself. I also could harbor delusions of grandeur and live in certainty that all my poems would absolutely be discovered, monumental and wise once I am dead. Once again much easier to live in the fantasy world than actually expose myself to the light of day and see the truth may not be what I imagined. Excellent plan!! It's worked for me for decades! Yeah!
The breakthrough.... I'm getting there! Reading other poets just started a year ago when I started coming to the Courage and Renewal retreats. The last time I read poetry other than mine was when I was very young. It provided much need clarity, perspective and inspired me to write and that was enough. Now I'm noticing the positive, enlightening impact that poetry still has on me and I wonder if there is something in my poetry that others may benefit from. I know I have talent... raw talent... and here's the rub... honing the rawness is HARD! I perceive it as WORK... (new word alert...) to acuminate the natural ability I have to put forth time and effort and think hard and listen to people who may know more than I do... I have to be vulnerable and brave and kind to myself. SHIT!! And I have to practice over and over... another core belief that needs to shift... repetitive practice, repetitive anything is boring and boring is Hard and Hard is to be avoided at all costs. Here it is... the universe presented a teacher for me for poetry. When the student is ready and all that jive... and I had the courage to ask for help. And I had the courage to accept that there may be "hard work" involved AND... AND that that is OK!
The breakthrough is so fucking simple... I'm just growing up. That's all! This involves work and collaboration and reconciling my fantasies and my feelings and my being with the world I'm living in and the people around me. Not loosing but finding myself whole in that reality and figuring out what the fuck I want to do when I grow up! Damn!
So everything is OK.... even when it's not OK and it is apparently true that HARD is also OK. Surrendering or getting over or around or under my resistance to "HARD" is just the next step. Onward & upward... Ho!
So much to say so much procrastination blocking me. I just read through Week 8 of the Artist's Way and decided to "just do it" and post today.
I have nothing in particular but loads in general to share. I'm sitting at Kru coffee wasting time until I go to an eye doctor's appointment in 1/2 hour. I stopped in here when it first opened and didn't care for the coffee. I still don't, apparently it hasn't gotten more tasty overtime. I am glad to see that the place is busy and it is only 2 minutes (literally) from my appointment.
I've experienced a time of funk... that would make a great posting name... (so I changed it! NICE>>>) the "days of funk" "funkified and treading life..." many variations pop to the surface... ha ha... I'm not sure the cause of the funkification... but it has slowly passed and I am returning to some sense of normal optimism and gratitude. I found that even my stand by mediation practice is powerless in the face of funkdom. Meditation actually made it worse because of the disappointment that it didn't work to actually free me from it. I had to adjust my expectations from freedom or enlightened probing to endurance and perseverance.... that SUCKED!!
Apparently time and possibly valtrex are the only known sources of relief. The full blood blue eclipse moon is making it's appearance tonight... wonder if that had something to do with it? Who fucking knows.
Any who. I have decided that now the stomach virus, holiday frenetics and house buying highs are mellowing out or passed I am floundering for specific purpose and homesick for structure and routine. I can do something about that... my sleeping routine has returned to something resembling "normal" and I could see myself attending the morning AA meeting again regularly.
I discovered at a meeting today that a surprising number of my favorite and most enduringly useful quotes can be found in the text of step 10 in the 12 and 12.
Isn't there some age old saying that there is safety in numbers? I would disagree with that on a gut level. I much prefer to be alone or perhaps with one other person. This does beg the question of what is "safety" and when do you feel safe.
Here is the definition....
adjective, safer, safest.
1. secure from liability to harm, injury, danger, or risk: a safe place.
2. free from hurt, injury, danger, or risk: to arrive safe and sound.
3. involving little or no risk of mishap, error, etc.: a safe estimate.
4. dependable or trustworthy: a safe guide.
5. careful to avoid danger or controversy: a safe player; a safe play.
I actually think that the synonyms are more telling and thought provoking.
intact guarded out of danger
What shall I create this day to amuse and delight?
I decided back in November 2015 to make my poetry available and journal online. I'm not exactly sure what "blogging" means but I am quite sure this is an online journal. Feel free to read on with an aire of open minded curiosity. At no time do I intend to offend, judge or pretend to know anything really, I'm just an observer and explorer, as we all are. Feel free to "boldly go" through my observations and perhaps it will spark or inspire. Comments are off because I don't want to be worried about political correctness when I'm writing. I'm not thinking about "you." I'm just writing because it feels "right". Feel free to enjoy or surf on.
Fibber McGee's closet!