Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sink Holes

My apologies for not writing lately, May has proved to be a tough month, and just as I thought I was through it, I was hit with a double whammy. Arrghhhh! Such as it is, and part of it is my own fault for letting myself get so overwhelmed that I don’t think straight. 

I feel I’m pussy-footing around; afraid that something else will go wrong. That’s not a good place. I’m feeling good at the moment, but the way things have been lately, I don’t trust the good feeling.

It’s a bit of a set-back after all the work I’ve been doing with manifesting and all. “Bit” is too kind; it’s more like being slammed to the ground then stomped on. The road lately has had big sink holes and I don’t see them until I’ve fallen in. I thought I was beyond that.

I want to believe in Wayne Dyer. I want to believe in the ability to manifest. I wanted to prove my past wrong.

But the universe likes to throw curve balls with a “let’s see how you’ve learned all those lessons you’ve bragged about.” Yep, I got caught in the trap. I didn’t pay attention and fell on my face again.

I’ve never been the type to visualize goals and have them come true. I’ve always found goal-setting to be a disappointment; it just doesn’t work for me. There have been many times when I’ve put an intent out there, but if I dwell on it, it never comes true. It seems I just have to throw the wishes out there and whatever one come true, is a welcome, joyful surprise.

Am I giving up on Dyer and manifesting? I don’t want to. Some of what he preached is true and I totally believe. Maybe I just haven’t worked everything out yet. Everyone says to take baby steps and I do, but like a baby, I am easily distracted by a pretty bauble and I wander off the path, and as usual, I got distracted by work, home renovation, and other things.

Maybe it IS just because Mercury is in retrograde that this has been a crappy month. And not that all has been crappy, just the bad happens to overshadow the good at the moment and leaves me feeling like an old, wet, dirty dish rag wrung out and left to rot. Hey, May is supposed to be a pretty, happy month.

The extra work during the month of May, the Summer Guide, is done and I managed to clean up stragglers in work and straighten out things. Now I can get back to normal… if ever I can be normal. I look forward to June with hope. 

I bought lots of bright, colorful flowers the other day to reward myself for getting through May. Of course, now I have to figure out what to do with them. They bring such joy. I have to decide which to put in containers and which will line my yet-to-be-built walkway to the front door. 

Crawling out of the latest sink hole, I pause to brush myself off. Perhaps in time, I will understand what I went through. I’m already getting clues. I let the focus of work overshadow joy and I got so overwhelmed that I forgot how much I love my work. I forgot that everything does work out and I tried to force things to move faster. I didn’t take meditative breaks and my mind short circuited.

Now, I remember to breathe. I realize that I made the work a lot harder than it needed to be. I took lots of notes for next year. I will do it better! 

And yes, I will also get back to the self-work and the exploration of my wandering mind.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Brief Exploration of Grief

I start my morning pages and the subject of grief permeates my thoughts. Yes, it’s Mother’s Day, and I miss my mum so much, but that’s not what today’s subject is about – not totally.

This is also a continuation of yesterday’s “Chasing the High.” Questions arise. What is the opposite of that high? Is it grief? Grief over what? I let my mind sink into the topic. What makes people unhappy? And when they are unhappy most of the time and the deep-down unhappiness outweighs the good times, what then? Does it turn into grief and the grief turns into frustration and anger and then people need to medicate to feel good?

It does seem like this is a trend and what makes it harder, and the worst, is that most people can’t talk about it. Oh, they might gripe and groan over a situation, but they seldom let themselves admit fully how they feel. They let off steam, but bottle up the true turmoil until there is an explosion or they break down and turn to other ways to numb the pain.

 They can’t talk about it because they can’t really identify what it is. And that’s because it’s emotional; it’s that stuff we bury inside, we hide, and while there are similarities in us, emotions can be very individual.  

Where does the grief come from? Fear is the major base of negativity. What do we fear? That we won’t get chosen for the team? That others won’t like us? That the thing we want most, we can never have? The list can go on and on, some items could turn up on everyone’s list, however, the disappointments pile up. Disappointment on disappointment and we strive harder after that proverbial carrot.

Even those who seem popular suffer the same fears. Celebrities will occasionally talk about stage fright, but for the most part, everyone will try to put on a “public face” for the outside world. They bottle up their fears and frustrations and after time, those feeling will either erupt in an angry outburst or they will fester, turn sour, and become grief for all the things they could never have, never accomplish, never become. Inside becomes one big pit of despair with occasional moments or a high depending on each person’s life.

Again, I feel I am just touching the outside edges of the situation. Emotions are so interwoven with the fabric of life. It’s what makes us human and it’s what makes it so hard to understand. We, as humans, are also interwoven and yet, we are individuals. We are not cookie cutter (to use the popular term).  

So what does this mean? The challenge can seem insurmountable. I know I am developing my own way of dealing with issues. I listen to people’s stories. I tell my own stories. There is a connectedness within this fabric of life and I believe the answers lie there. Not one single answer, but perhaps more the tools we need to help us be whole and balanced. 

I truly believe that the more we can talk, the more we heal, and in the talking and healing, we are not only healing ourselves, but we are helping others heal, too. This doesn’t mean we can go and talk to just anyone. We need to find those we feel safe with to talk about issues. 
I don’t know why I know what I do, but these concepts have been building in me for a long time. Maybe it’s because I’ve been studying life for a long time. I’m just going about it in an untraditional method – because I no longer trust the commercialized, conventional ways (which is another entirely different subject).

And again, I’m just touching on topics. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around the entire issue. Perhaps this is stuff that can only be taken in bits and pieces. I’m learning. I remember a conversation, read something, or see something and my mind mulls on it and I have to interpret it into my language. This might be a key. Something is said and I don’t have to do it exactly as the next person, but I can take the concept and make it fit who I am.

Think about it. What do you grieve and what have you done to heal it?

Saturday, May 7, 2016

It’s Calling

There is an ache in my soul I cannot name. It gnaws on my innards trying to claw its way out. I have no name for this.

I dig a deeper hole. I dig faster. Wait, these are not all my treasures… are they? I try to pick one up. The roots extend into the earth like the runners of the blackberry bush. I pull harder. Thorns dig into my palms. I drop the piece and it rolls into the deeper hole. Crap, what does this mean?

I get through my day and slide downhill. Sometimes I feel so whiny and needy. It’s part of the aloneness perhaps. I know it’s important to keep busy, but I also feel the need to explore these feelings… because it’s not just about me. What I deal with extends beyond me. This exact moment may be about me and for me, but it’s more than me. Somehow I know this. I just can’t get it out and I’m afraid no one will understand. 

More and more I’m recognizing the need to talk, and not just for me, for others, too. These feelings tease me pull me, like it knows exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Only I’m too thick to get it. Only that’s not exactly true, either. Oh, there’s a reason I’ve never liked riddles.

The piece slips farther into the hole as I reach for it. I can just barely put my finger on it. The words are on the tip of my tongue. I stretch my arm until it feels like it’s going to pull out of joint. The piece slides out of reach. 

I talk. I beg. I cajole. “Come here. Let me see you. Let me touch you. We can help each other.” Silence.

I guess not this day.

Chasing the High

I watched an “American Masters” program last night on Janis Joplin. I knew some of her story as she is a rock and roll legend; one of those 60s icons, but I don’t know much about her personally.

I was surprised to see that some of her childhood, especially as it pertained to school, was similar to mine. I know that despair of never feeling liked, of being ridiculed by classmates, being an outcast, never being accepted, and of never feeling pretty. 

In some aspects, she was stronger than I and had more courage. She could sing and that, at least, gave her an in with some. (I could sing, too, but never had the confidence to do anything about it.) She went off to her fame… and eventual death at a young age.

Janis’ story stirred me to know more and is line with these studies I’m doing about the thinking of the mind. She used a metaphor to Dick Cavett (I think that’s who it was) during an interview of mule carts with the carrot dangling in front of the animals to keep them moving. She likened women to the mules – always striving to reach (something). 

I woke up this morning thinking about that metaphor; that always trying to reach a high (whatever that high would be for someone). It reminded me of a comment I heard from a good friend. She said she is always looking for the high you get when you are first madly in love with someone. How many others are searching for a similar type of high? And how high is high?

I call this a super-high; one that is occasional, fleeting, or may last for awhile, but then it’s gone. And what happens when that high breaks like a bubble. How far does one fall? Do you crash and burn or do you don on the mule coat and continue chasing that proverbial carrot? 

Am I searching for some kind of a high myself? I don’t think so. Yes, I want to be happy and yes, I do have an occasional high, but I don’t know that I’ve really ever experienced one of those super-highs. Or maybe it was that the subsequent crash and burn killed any desire to go through that again. I like to think my life is more on an even-keel. Yes, I have some highs and I have many lows, but they are seldom extreme. 

I also believe I have some kind of self-preservation built inside. That something inside tells me that the super-highs are not true happiness or not a long-term happiness. Are super-highs happiness found outside the self? For instance, believing that someone else can make us happy or if we have such and such we will be happy. It’s like the super-highs are also a drug and can be addictive.

And so, I’m curious. I want to know what people are thinking in their quest for the super-high and the consequences that come with it. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to get that high. A part of me is appalled at how someone could do that, while another part of me totally understands. And I want to understand.

What are we willing to do in our quest for happiness? I suppose it depends on the individual. It depends on what we think will make us happy. While I do get happiness from others, I know I can’t rely on that physical “fix.” I have to find the things within that fills me with happiness. Sometimes it is very simple like watching the birds. And of course, I get a lot of happiness with my writing. It’s helping me understand life and, as I keep saying, it’s like going on an adventure.

The quest for happiness – is this what it’s about?

My next trip to the library will be for a biography on Janis Joplin.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mining the Inner Artifacts

This morning I’m continuing yesterday’s thread on self-archeology. Yesterday saw me digging up ancient carvings in my inner well; those old aspects and labels of myself that I buried for many years. Those issues occasionally rear an ugly head to stir my emotions and remind me of my insecurities. Is there any truth to them? 

I pulled a couple relics from the muck. As I line them up on the shelf, I consider what names they have; what labels I have/had. I start to clean off the dirt. Does this label fit me now? Did it ever really work for me or was it something that I got stuck with and is something that never felt true (I only felt it was true because that’s what others said or I believed). 

I thought about the physical downsizing I did these past couple of years and especially last year when I bought a much smaller house. Going through items I’ve had in my possession for a long time was not easy (yes, there’s still more to go through). Do I hang onto something just because I’ve had it for years? Do I keep it because it’s been in the family or it was given to me by someone special to me? How many things can I save if they are not usable for me now?

As I work with the relic analogy this morning, I am reminded how digging these old half-carved images out of my inner well is similar to the physical downsizing of my house. What image-label am I holding onto like a family heirloom because a family member gave me that label when I was young? What purpose is it serving if that label is not who I am? What about the relic-label that I buried because I was ashamed of it? What purpose does that serve? 

Think about all those relics I’ve been burying for years. They sink in the mud and are further hidden by more half-carved stones. Some rot, some fall apart, and some distort with age. Do they serve a purpose for me now or do they just clutter up my being and hinder my growth?

These recent years were creating who I am/want to be. But maybe I’m not creating something new or maybe I don’t need to create something new. What if all I need to do is to clean out the old relics and get rid of ones that do not suit me and are not me? What if, in digging these out and seeing actually what they are, I can let them go if they are not who I am? What if, in the cleaning out of all the junk and clutter, I am freed up to be truly me – the person I’ve always been on the inside, but couldn’t access because of all the crap I’ve buried?

I feel much freer living in a physical house that is less cluttered. Imagine how I could mentally feel if my inner me is less cluttered?

It’s time to get the cleaning rags out to see which relics are still good and which ones I can put to the curb.

Below is a poem I wrote many years ago. It goes to show, there was a part of me already working on this… but I stopped for awhile. Time to get out those cleaning tools again.

Cleaning Day in the Well

On the inside of my soul lies a darkened place
and stuck in an unused corner like burnt cheese
 is … something… possibly sinister…
I can’t tell for sure

It’s been covered over so many times 
that I’ve forgotten much of what I buried 
and I don’t know what has oozed 
into the hidden recesses of my being
 to rot and grow hard

But I have this handy dandy scraper now, 
a plastic little thing that won’t scar the sides 
(came with a George Foreman grill 
my ex gave me years ago and I no longer use)

So down there I go 
with my handy dandy scraper and cleaning rags 
I pick and scrub with care 
wipe away the grime and the dust and the char
to reveal… a mirror!

With gentle strokes, I wipe the surface clean then, 
with a silent bang
 light reflects in the shine and I am no longer in the dark
I am bathed in glorious sunlight and all is revealed

--Sasha Wolfe

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Changing Images

Half-carved stone sculptures lie buried within, some bigger than others. I periodically dig in the muck and pull the cloth off one to continue the work. After all these years, they are still chunks of stone although the hint of the original shape has become more refined. After all these years, I’m still defining who I am. After all these years, I am defining who I am and not by someone else’s standards. 

I take a small pick and chip away one more piece. However, before I can start chiseling detail, I am distracted by a more important project. Over sixty years and I’m still a work in process as I slowly sculpt my ultimate masterpiece one small chink at a time.

This was the image that came to me as I am working on my latest journey into the self. I see my issues as half-formed stone sculptures. But wait! The stone will turn to polished marble when done. Oh, that’s an image for me, ha ha – not! I am not polished stone. I may be slowly carving more detail, but I will never be “polished.” 

That’s not a self put-down. It’s who I am. I am not an elegant, refined lady. I am the solid, grounded, well-rounded, well-meaning friend. I AM a rock; like the rough stones I pick up and save because I see beauty in the stone. 

I am the jagged edges of amethyst, the crevices that gather dust and sand. I am the holes in pumice and, at time, I have the clarity of a clear quartz crystal. I am the healing of citrine and the grounding of obsidian. I have the love of life and nature of rose quartz and, like granite I’m made up of many things.

But let’s go back to the stone sculptures. Maybe they are marble inside or alabaster or maybe I am just a hunk of New Hampshire granite. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the work; the art of carving. Perhaps it’s time to name these chunks of unfinished stone.

I was doing more reading last night on shame and guilt. I am learning there’s a definite difference between the two. Brene Brown defines shame as something we feel and guilt as something we’ve done. I’m to the point where it’s time to start looking closer at this and deciding which might be shame or which is guilt. Bringing these issues to the light will help them release where they will no longer have hold on me.

It’s a huge subject and I’m looking at my life differently than I have previously. It’s taking some changing of old concepts and it’s also opening doors which have been slammed shut; which some are so buried that I have to get in there with a shovel to dig it out just to get to the door. And that brought me to those half-carved stone sculpture images that I found buried in the muck.

Oh, and here continues that saga of how I feel I am on a treasure hunt on this journey to understanding the self. I’m an archeologist into myself and those stone half-carvings are the finding of ancient treasure. If I can hold it up to the light and learn its curves and holds…

Oh, oh, oh – revelation! I started today’s writing with the images of having to carve individual sculptures, but that’s not exactly true. The only true image I am carving is ME! Those stones I find in the muck are more like buried ancient relics. These relics buried within are allowing me to discover the true me. I refuse to be defined by society, stereotypes, and the media. 

Revealing those relics is like finding the right carving tool to better define me; define me by my standards, through my story, where I can stand up with confidence and shout, “This is who I am!” And know it for the truth.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

To Be ME, I Can’t Live Up To Others’ Expectations

I am continuing my self-work on shame. I have just barely scratched the surface. Shame is the skeleton-in-the-closet, the thing no one wants to discuss. It can be embarrassing for the person talking about it and for the one listening. But if it isn’t talked about and brought to the light, it remains shame. I intend to change that. After all, what do I really have to be ashamed about?

Brene Brown’s book “I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Wasn’t)” is helping me access and understand some of the issues. I realize that most of my life has been a battle to live up to what was expected, wanted, and perceived of me. There is the constant inner battle because many those beliefs were not who I felt I was inside. And, for some reason, I believed that everyone else knew better – which meant, I was wrong, am wrong.

This morning I am contemplating my shame triggers; the things said to me, what I have read, what I’ve been taught, what the media has pounded into me, what I learned to believe – everything that has ever made me feel not worthy. If I can list these things, then I can look at them and let them go.

(Here is my analogy of the inner well where stuff has been buried for years. Sometimes it’s necessary to stir around in the muck. Bringing issues to the light will allow them to release.)

How have I felt shame because I think I don’t live up to what others think of me? That’s what a lot of it is about. What others think of me. That wanting to be accepted and thinking I’ve failed because I’ve not been the person I THINK they want me to be. 

Think about what this statement says: I feel shame because I THINK I don’t live up to what I think others THINK I should be. Is that a true statement? 

The biggest issue about this subject is because people are afraid to talk about it. Oh, we might make a comment in passing, but it’s quickly brushed off. I’m determined to wend my way through this maze of the journey of my self. So often I find when I do take the courage to admit to a so-believed failure, I discover that others also feel the same. We are not alone. We have all experienced some kind of not being good enough.

So, will I start my list? Maybe not today, but just talking about it has me thinking. It’ll come. This is already making a huge step in helping me be OK and satisfied with who I am. And, as always, I hope that my discussions will help others, too.

Thank you.