Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fortune Cookies be Damned

School has started again and so have long days, long commutes and a messy house. This semester I would like to set a goal, to allow myself to have a messy house without it being a reflection of me personally. I am taking five classes and commuting an hour and twenty minutes, each way. The work load is astronomical, and I still expect myself to be able to handle life on the outside perfectly. Maybe the Wonderwoman complex has taken over my life, without the outfit (the thighs aren't there yet). Maybe I enjoy setting myself up, so that in the end I can say, "Yes, I just can't juggle," or "I just can't do this without a partner," or, "This is what happens when you wait to go to school." Excuses stacked up in a neat pile in the back of my brain that allow me an out if I don't do as well as I want. So it will not be really my fault if I fail. But who is talking about failure except the scared girl in the background, who really doesn't know that she can really do this on her own. I want to know that it will all be ok, that I will get my degree and get a great writing job, or sell a book. I want the future to be laid out in front of me. But the future cannot be seen, even fortune cookies say things now like, "Wisdom is the key to a better sex life," and "You are competent, brave and hairy." It comes down to faith, which is something that I would like to cultivate. Now is my chance. When I get down to 11$ in my checking account and I have 4 papers due and no gas, will I really be able to know that I will be taken care of by my God, or will I just use that as excuse #425.6 to give up and apply at Dunkin Donuts. Who knows, I cannot tell the future quite yet, but maybe if I crack open just one more cookie I will know.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ragweed 0, Goldenrod 1

Allergy season is upon us and we begin to point the finger at the culprit, that dastardly Goldenrod. But is it really the culprit, or is it the fall guy for a sneakier, less showy plant that releases its allergens every year at the same time that the golden flowers burst forth in splendor. The villain Ragweed strikes again, and takes none of the blame. Today I am cranky. I did not want to run this morning, or write, all I wanted to do was sleep and eat. I could blame it on not enough sleep, or Pretty Morning Sunshine, or the lack of daylight in the morning. Any of those could be the culprit, but sometimes I need to look deeper. What is my Ragweed? Why am a little off kilter today? Possibly because I haven't connected with God the past few days. My meditation practice gets shoved aside on the weekends, the writing doesn't get done with altered sleep hours. My schedule is altered, then it gets altered again. Maybe my Ragweed is a lack of consistency in my weekly life, constant shifts that have no sense of grounding. I think that I need to make sure that as I weave back and forth between schedules I have a core practice that doesn't alter because of added time at the dog park or country fairs. My morning prayer and meditation practice allows me to ease into the day, creating a smooth transition from night to morning that I don't have between week and weekend, and school and summer. Because I will be the first to ignore what is really going on for the showy excuse. Time to alter the score, Ragweed 1, Goldenrod 1.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Deep Gratitude

I have many thoughts swirling around in my head on the subject of gratitude. The daily practice of gratitude has saved my life, has lifted me out of the pit of despair and negativity, and placed me on solid ground. There is gratitude though, and there is gratitude, or I will call it, deep gratitude. Gratitude, I practice on a daily basis, writing out my list and remembering how much I really have in my life. Gratitude is reflective, an acknowledgement to God, a thank you for all the gifts we receive on a daily basis if we only notice them. The hummingbird at my feeder, the turkeys crossing the road, my family and health and cozy little home. Deep gratitude is experienced when practicing gratitude and allowing God in, experiencing the full feeling of being truly happy and expressing the emotions. Deep gratitude is active, an exchange of feeling and emotion for gifts received. Type a few things that you are grateful for, food, clothing, shelter, loved ones, a promotion maybe, or a box of chocolate covered cherries. That is gratitude. Now feel your face light up as you think of a loved one you are truly thankful for. Thank God over and over for this person, allowing love to build up inside and bubble over in joy. That is deep gratitude. We are all put here on this beautiful planet to live joy filled lives. If we do not notice all that surrounds us that is beautiful, and exactly as it should be, we will not find peace and happiness. Because the gifts of this world far outnumber the sorrows. We just have to be vigilant and keep our eyes peeled for those gifts. Much joy and happiness to you as you venture forth on this day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stuck in a Box? Just Open the Flap

Everyone must have heard the phrase, "think outside the box." I have a card that I framed written by Edward Monkton, titled, The Butterfly of Freedom. It is a picture of a box filled with butterflies with one flying on the outside. It reads:
"Why do you fly outside the box?"
"I fly outside the box because I can."
"But we KNOW the box. We are SAFE inside the box."
"That my friend, is why I leave it. For you may be SAFE... but I AM FREE!"
How exactly do you think outside the box? Because we are told it is a good thing, but never told how to do it. For years I did stay within a box, staying married and in jobs that didn't fulfill me, but making ends meet, making a living, and surviving in the "real" world. It gets scary when you move outside the box, it is unknown. When I left my husband I had no clue how I would support myself. When I left my job I had no clue how I would support myself. When I enrolled in school I had no clue how I would juggle it all. I still have no clue. The difference today though, is that I have a connection with a God of my understanding. Thinking outside the box takes practice and courage. It takes qualities that I lack at times, but what I lack, my spiritual connection makes up for. It took me at least ten years of living on my own to figure out that I could buy sugar cereal. I grew up on Cheerios and Golden Grahams, always craving Lucky Charms. When I was 28, One day in the grocery store I purchased a box of Lucky Charms. I had crawled out of my first box. Starting small helps. I painted my toenails five shades of purple the other day. I never knew that was an option, because I was stuck in a version of how things are done. Breaking out of that was a mini spiritual awakening. If I was never aware of pedicure options, can you imagine all of the possibilities out there, just waiting for me to discover? God is so much larger that Cheerios and five red toes. God can also be more that making 75$ writing an article for the newspaper. God can be more that staying in an unhappy marriage or job. Scary stuff, but with a little nail polish I think I just might be able to save the world, or at least make a little dent.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A James Taylor Tradition

Every year local folk singer James Taylor plays in his hometown at Tanglewood, the home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His shows are always sold out, bringing throngs of people to picnic on the lawn, and listen to music. I have gone to most of his shows, and it has become a sort of tradition for me, or is it a ritual. Picnic blankets are set up, along with citronella candles, bottles of wine, and array of food. Some folks put up buffet tables and families gather together in their little corner of the lawn to spend an evening. This year I purchased tickets in the shed, the indoor space, in case of rain. Usually we would picnic for the first half of the concert and watch inside once the sun goes down and cooler weather descends. I can track my growth, spiritual and otherwise through my memories of these very shows. Age fifteen I am walked into the concert by my boyfriend who directs traffic. We wander the maze on his break and I watch with girlfriends. Age 16, I decide to change my appearance right before a first date with a very cute boy. I decide to go brown instead of blond. It turns out green. We smoke cigarettes and drink Budweiser beer. Age 17, I fill a soda bottle with straight vodka and get really drunk. I lose the car and my boyfriend dumps me. Not a good show. Age 18, I forget, age 21, I bring my 2 year old and husband. We drink wine and have a picnic. Fast forward. The last three years, I bring diet soda, a full picnic, bread with cheese, strawberries and dessert. My boyfriend and I relax into the show, drink our soft drinks, and year after year, grow closer. I can never see how much I have grown until I compare myself against who I used to be. This year's incredible show with Sheryl Crow, I remember. I found the car within moments of entering the parking lot. Next year, James Taylor, hopefully with the same man, beautiful clear night, picnic and music. Thank God I grew up.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Please Don't Should on Me

I have a pair of Siberian huskies, great dogs, but a little naughty at times. One of my angels, we shall call her Jane, to protect her privacy, was very annoying to another dog the other day at play group. She wanted the dog to play, the dog didn't want to, so she decided to torture him until he did, howling incessantly in his face. I tried to stop her. Minutes of frustration later, and unsuccessful attempts at capture, the other dog took a time out. The next day a gentleman said to me, "You really should have had better control of your dog." Ten words and my day spiraled downward. I overreacted, got embarrassed, felt like a failure of a dog owner, and almost left the group and not returned. Out of the ten words said, the one that did the most damage was the word "should." I am sure we are all aware of things we should have done in the past. I am reminded everyday that I should have stayed single, should have gone to college right out of high school, should have left this job then, or taken that road. The thing is, I didn't, and there is nothing I can do to change what happened in the past. All I can change is the present. If that dog owner had come up to me and said, "Hey I see you had a hard time controlling your dog, maybe next time just give a call and I will help you out," things would have been different. Maybe the word is so volatile because I was married to someone who constantly told me how I should have done things differently, or maybe, just maybe, I do it to myself. That is why I reacted strongly to the gentleman, who was really trying to help. I am the one who holds herself up to high expectations. I am the one who shoulds myself to the point where one more utterance of the word throws me for a loop. I am the one who chooses to feel like crap when I pick on myself for making a mistake. I am the one with the complex. Today I am slowly asking for spirit to release the anger that is stuck to those ten words spoken. That irritation is not good for me. He helped to point out an area in my life that I need to work on. I should have more control over my dogs, but I don't. Maybe I can just ask for help next time. Lesson learned? Maybe, or maybe I should just chill out and enjoy the beautiful day.