Friday, July 31, 2009
I had a few hours last night in which I sat by a fire, very close to it, and actually put my toe in for a second. I found out that I would be responsible for some debt my name was attached to, that had been being paid by the other party. Drama injection coming right up, at least 3cc's of the stuff please. I handled it quite well I believe, only a mild hangover today. I did not feel anger, I actually felt numb. My first response was to head to my God box and place a slip of paper inside with the problem spelled out. I then turned to fear. God hadn't answered my prayer in twelve whole seconds, twelve, seconds. The fear came out in sobs, then I turned to injustice. Everyone is out to get me, he just wants to screw up my life, etc etc etc. I should have probably dressed up in full Shakespearean costume for that performance, although only in my head, it was still drama at its most flamboyant. What I needed though was to feel those emotions, the sense of injustice, the drama of it all, because, like all intense feeling, it passed. It passed through because I didn't reach for the ice cream, or alcohol to stuff it back down inside to then turn into a major resentment. Because it is prime resentment material, it could blow into a bonfire. I might actually start to mix metaphors, while hating half of the Eastern coast for doing me wrong. Today, after a full nights rest and a healthy breakfast and chat with God, I can see that while in fear, I forgot how much I actually have. I have purple sandals. Life doesn't get much better than that. I believe that gratitude snuck in last night while I was asleep. God answered my prayer, it just took longer than twelve seconds, but that answer was a sense of serenity amidst a stressful situation. The old belief that has no purpose; everyone is out to get me, is replaced with a new belief, that I am a whole person, and my life is filled with abundance and love. All I need to do is allow myself to open my hands and receive, minus the injection of drama.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I think I need a remedial life skills class. I went from living in my parents' house to living with a roommate, to my husband of many years. I am now living on my own, out in the big world and sometimes find myself lacking in many skills necessary to living independently. I know how to manage a household as a couple, I watched my parents do this, and while married shared the load of living in a household. Today though I am responsible for the whole shebang, including garbage, bills, mowing, and dishes. The details seem endless and start to pile on top of me while I sleep, along with layers of animal fur. I forgot to call the doctor again to make an appointment for my son. Oops, ran out of butter, and the mac and cheese is all cooked. The registry doesn't inform you anymore that you need to renew your registration every two years? Details, details, details. I have a vision of living my life, everything falling into place like a Monet, yet I forget that I have to learn to use a pencil and draw a straight line first. I need a book titled, "The Art of Living Independently," because this is just not working. Maybe today I will start with a line, take out the garbage and just let everything else go, except for the ticket I need to pay before they snatch my registration away. Oh and butter might make the mac and cheese taste better than rubber. Maybe I'll write that book, because I sure do need it.
Monday, July 27, 2009
There are just some days when I cannot seem to remember how fabulous my life is and I wake up itching for a fight. Today was one of those days. I had to leave the house I was staying at earlier than usual, which meant that I had to wake up earlier than usual. I ended up running late, and upon entering my door found a ceramic jewelry box smashed on the floor, earrings strewn throughout my house. My cats had invented a new game, one that I was not ever planning on playing with them. I had stumbled upon some extra work this week, so my daily routine; meal, running, writing, and meditation had been disrupted, and I am feeling the difference. I went out into the day with my fists in the air, ready to taste blood, not at all like me, an eggplant eating vegetarian gal who tries not to step on the ants or run over frogs crossing the road. Cars would pass me while I was finally running this evening, going well over the speed limit, and my anger would surge. I looked like a maniac, a sweat covered, muttering, red - faced maniac. What is my part in this day? How had I contributed to the madness? An anonymous writer once said, "We shall want to hold ourselves to the course of admitting the things we had done, meanwhile forgiving the wrongs done us, real or fancied." Most of the wrongs done to me today were fancied. I could have stayed at home last night instead of a friend's house, allowing for added sleep. I could have refused the extra work. I could have made sure to eat enough and hydrate before my run, lessening the irritability that comes from not enough glucose in the bloodstream. I could have put all of my possessions in plastic containers, as it is not the first time my cats, mostly young cats, have decided to redecorate. And I am writing now. Today I forgot my gratitude and craved the energy that comes with a good ole resentment, broiled to perfection and served with fries. I guess its back to tofu.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I recently decided, with the help of a very cool friend, to run my first marathon. I have been running sporadically since 2004. I go through phases where I will run my route when it is sleeting or 90 degrees, and when I just cannot get the motivation to stand. I have set this goal though and hopefully, October 10, I will run 26 miles. Since making this decision I have had to up my mileage, and took my first long run on Friday. I had my trusty water pack and sports gel, and was armed with lots of music. And I am pleased to say that I made it, almost 11 miles of road covered, mostly flat and I learned an incredible amount from those 2 hours. First, that I have muscles in my body that I did not know existed. Second, that my lungs have healed from years of smoking a pack a day. Third, that there are so many details that I miss in my day to day existence. I experienced a different perspective while running on the road, instead of driving down it at 50 mph; neighbors that have horses, a house for sale that has a beautiful building behind it, and the different way that people mow their lawns. I contemplated the mowing patterns, vertical, horizontal or diagonal, wondering if it had anything to do with the people themselves or just a fluke. I saw the property lines in grass, one neighbor mowing to a point, the other a week behind. I appreciated the perspective I gained of a world that is so much more than just a blur viewed out the windshield. I am hoping to keep this sense of appreciation for detail as I go into the next two months of training. If nothing else happens I can say that this girl, who almost failed gym class, is giving it a shot. Hello tiny ankle muscles, nice to meet you.
Friday, July 24, 2009
My friend laughed last night at a humorous remark I made. He really laughed, not just a fake one to appease me. I love it when people truly laugh. There is a huge difference. In true laughter we let our guard down for just that brief moment and experience joy. I know it sounds mushy, but his eyes light up and his whole face opens when he laughs. When we truly allow ourselves to laugh we let go of a need to control ourselves and our surroundings. I am not so sure that us human folk like to give up control. Look around you, everywhere you will see humans harnessing and controlling the natural environment. We build dams to control water, harness electricity, blow up mountains to build roads, and genetically modify our crops and animals. There are very few people that truly know who I am. I have a mask that I wear in a job, my customer service mask, I have a face I put on when I am at school or with family, or different friends. Rarely do I just open up and say, "Here, this is who I am, I am displeased and anxious right now so leave me alone." I smile and say thank you. Now we need to have manners, and we need to alter our personalities to some point to deal with life, but I think we also have to strike a balance, unclench, lighten up and experience pure joy. Children have it down, watch them. They are in their full glory. They will burst out into gales of laughter if something is funny, and stay quiet at something that is not. An adult will give a polite little laugh at the funny and not so funny. My cats will experience the pure joy and abandon of chasing a flying insect through the house at 2:30 am. I guess maybe we could learn a lot from children and animals about the joy that is all around us, every day. This morning I woke up to songbirds, belting out a tune, just because they were awake and alive and it was morning. Maybe I should try that tomorrow when my alarm goes off, then have a good laugh and appreciate the fact that I didn't die in the middle of the night. Maybe, just maybe I'll try it. Or maybe I'll sleep in.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Songbirds first graced our presence in the Miocene age, 25 million years ago, many millions of years before homo sapiens. Every morning when I sit down to write, I hear them singing. Each day holds a new composition, and I have taken to calling them songbird symphonies. They can be broken into movements as new voices start to sing, and the rhythm and speed varies. The concert ends as my teacup becomes empty, and I leave for my day filled with peace. It is amazing how just the sound of birds can help me to ease into my day. A friend of mine was telling me the story of how she had to comfort her daughter as the little girl watched trees being cut down on an adjoining property for a development. The little girl had learned in school that trees provide oxygen and take in carbon dioxide, our waste product. She had seen a pair of deer standing there with no place to go and she started to cry. I imagined how many homes were destroyed as the trees were chopped; songbird, squirrel, and insect. How many nests ended up going through the shaver? As I sit here in my home and listen to the songbird symphonies I realise just how lucky I am to have access to this beautiful music in the morning. Looking back in geological time I see that we haven't really been here that long, and that the Earth has changed drastically in the 4.6 billion years it has been around. We were not here first, and we probably won't be here last. I'll create the music now.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I consider myself a technology neophyte. Yes I have been using email for years, but my cell phone is a recent acquisition, a mere three years ago, and I have just discovered Facebook, blogging and Twitter. Unexplored territory still abounds. There is a phone on the market that allows the user to track their hikes, bikes, or runs, the mileage and terrain, and save the route to Google. The communications industry appears to be booming. It seems that we are all desperate to stay connected with each other. I have people following me on Twitter that I do not even know, and I have posted there exactly once. I discover that when I am home alone I tend to check my email numerous times a day, both school and home. That need to connect with someone can sometimes be a little obsessive. Of course I have an opinion on this subject. As a culture we seem to be so busy that there isn't any time left over to really connect with friends, family, and the natural world. If I came to you from the 1800's, I would probably be living with extended family. We would converse face to face, on a daily basis, maybe as we rocked while working on needlepoint. Today, I do not see your face, I text message a note, email, or leave a message on your voice mail. A real person to person connection is not reached very often. And so we use what we have in a desperate attempt to connect in a world that hardly allows for it. But then again we all have access to many more people than we did before we had transportation and a weekly trip to the market and church was our social life. Maybe that is the gift in this communication age, the ability to connect with thousands instead of 10. Or maybe it is the curse.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Sorry, that was a joke. I have four cats. I love my cats. That being said, I must say that they have taught me numerous valuable lessons. Did you know that it is not cool to have possessions anywhere near a flat surface? That includes shelves, tables, desks and counters. Maybe it messes up the feng shui of the house, as mine are constantly rearranging my living space. Maybe I have bad taste, I did think that the ceramic statue of the Buddha looked nice on my writing desk, but alas, it is now in a drawer. It no longer has hands or feet, and a big chunk of his head broke off after my angels made their opinion known. I also now know that meditation is best done in chaos. I cannot complain. For the most part they are quiet all night, unless there are insects milling about. They do like to party when I sit down and close my eyes and try to go to a peaceful space and focus on my breath. Maybe they are placing me on the fast track to enlightenment, if I can stay still while a game of catch is going on at 5:30 am, then I can handle anything. Life is supposed to be fun. Just play in an empty box or bat a milk cap around and you will see just how good it can be. I guess today I need to lighten up, play a little more, lay off the catnip, watch the birds, and take a nap. All that advice for a can of cat food, not bad.
Monday, July 20, 2009
For some reason, this morning I was remembering an incident that took place 15 years ago, and a resentment that has been taking up space in my head and not paying rent. One evening I was waitressing at Red Lobster, and had a table of six. One young man at the table had a Williams College sweatshirt on. At some point during the meal I remarked that Williams was one of my school picks. I was in my early twenties and just getting back on track after a 3 year derailment. The mother at the table remarked that I probably couldn't afford to go there. That one statement, made just as an aside without malice, has stayed with me for years. I seethed with anger after she said it, how dare she say that, just because I was a waitress did not mean that I wasn't smart enough or savvy enough to get into a great school. The thing is, and it just dawned on me this morning, reliving it, was that some part of me must have believed it. There was a part of me that needed someone to make it alright that I had not yet achieved a goal I had set. It did take me many more years before I transferred from my local community college, and maybe she did me a favor. There is a piece of me that sometimes just wants to say, see, I did it, you were so wrong. That piece kept me in school long enough to transfer. That woman has taken up space in my head for fifteen years. But now I am evicting her, because I do believe that I can get into a great school, I did last year, and the school I am in is a much better match. I am, however dating someone who graduated from Williams. I think the track has cleared.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Sometimes driving through a quaint tourist town in the middle of the summer can try even the most patient of people. I would think that even the Dali Lama would grow tense if he drove through my hometown in July. Today I ask, what would he do? This afternoon as anger burbles to the top, I am desperately trying to conjure up the peace and connection I felt just yesterday as I floated on a pond in a kayak with my dad. The only loud sound there was a plop, when a kingfisher dropped into the water for a bite to eat. Today I rush around getting tiny errands done, little significant things like buying food, that seem to take so much time, and I long for the peace and clack of my computer keys. I did not remember that if I can find a shared connection or bond with all the folks that I grumble at, I will cease to grumble and feel better. I will actually cut them some slack. I often see people who share a common interest acknowledging each other, motor cyclists, postal workers, and yes, I have even waved at fellow Toyota Yaris drivers. I see runners and bikers who pass by each other on their daily trip, wave and say hello. Twelve step members sometimes find themselves friends with people who they would have never mixed with had they not had a common life-threatening disease. Political groups or environmental groups, their numbers bursting with different personalities, bond over a shared purpose. I guess I even have something in common with the person who just stopped in the middle of the parking lot without warning, we both evolved from a bacteria cell almost 3 billion years ago. Maybe that is the only connection that I can conjure up today for the parking lot extraordinaire. I kind of like thinking of them as bacteria.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Why do moths fly toward light and caterpillars stretch toward darkness? Is it that when we mature we tend to look toward the presence of something rather than its absence? And what happens in between, when the caterpillar decides that it is time to break free of its confines? My claustrophobic caterpillar has been getting antsy off and on for a while. There are many more days that I do look at the light side of life, compared with just a year, or a month, or even a day ago. It seems that the more I start eating my way out of my cocoon and self imposed isolation, the more comfortable I feel in the light of day. For now though my kitten is bounding through the house, climbing the window frames, and falling on bookshelves chasing the many moths assembled outside of my window, trying to get to the light of the lamps, and away from the black of a cloudy summer evening. Instead of marveling at his zest for life and full attention to the present moment I have chosen to grumble at the books that have now fallen back onto the floor. I guess I need to go back to my chrysalis and wait for maturity, or just watch my fearless hunters catch the big game.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I think that our culture primes us to default at unhappy/miserable/depressed/screwed up. Without continued unhappiness our economy might possibly tank. Who would buy Prozac or sports cars or zillions of dollars worth of weight loss/anti aging potions? If our default was serenity and happiness, why would we need to shop? Besides the obvious, because it's fun. Lately I have been noticing that people get uncomfortable when things are really good. I know I get that way. We say, "I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop," or "It looks like it will rain again today," or "What a Pollyanna." These are ways that we sit in the ooziness of depression. It is then OK to fill up on Ben and Jerry or draw attention to ourselves by relating our latest woes. Happy people who have great lives just don't have people saying to them, "What can I do to make your life easier?" Happy people are shunned. There is nothing wrong with them, they are not partaking in the economy, and they do not need our love and attention. At this very moment my life is fabulous. I am at my laptop writing, which I love to do, my cats are strategically placed around me, my plants are still alive, and yes, I have an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's in the freezer (Haagen Daaz will suffice.) If I were to call up people right now and say, "Hello, I am feeling fantastic," they might think I have gone insane. Well I am fantastic today, and I am on my way to outrageous serenity. I still need a new pair of shoes, but not because my life lacks for anything, but because they are shoes. Come on.
Monday, July 13, 2009
I downloaded some new music onto my iPod this morning before my run, and noticed that there was a change in my motivation. I made it up the hills just a little bit faster and had a little more spunk as I traversed the AT. This morning's Running Sutra was that music has such a profound impact on my life. My mile time definitely decreased today, even after a sleepy, groggy, start to the day. Maybe some of it was the endorphin level I was experiencing, endorphins that were almost as tasty as the brownie I ate before hand. Tia DeNora conducted a study that was published in 1999 on the effects of music on individuals as well as how we use music to alter our moods. This past Saturday evening I attended a Bebe Newerth concert at The Mahaiwe. The songs that she sang were all in story format. I perked up and listened to the words as well as the music used to portray emotions that went along with the action. At one point she slipped into a rendition of the Beatles, "Blackbird," a song that for some reason grabs my heartstrings and yanks. I always tear up when the song is played. A version of "Garden of Love," sung by a choir has me sobbing on the floor, quite an embarrassment to those that attempt to take me out into public. Now I just need that magical music that will help me memorise DNA replication for my quiz tonight. Maybe, "Duplicate" by White Town?
Thursday, July 9, 2009
This morning I was contemplating the difference between isolation and solitude. Last night's biology class helped to shed some light on the former. We were studying cancer cells and their life cycle. One rogue cell would plant itself down for a nice rest and decide to multiply. At first the cells stay in one place, just hanging out. There comes a time though when they start sneaking into different hangout spots, spreading throughout the body. Isolation, for me, acts similarly. I have one thought, usually made from my pity pot (still covered in jewels) that just hangs out for a bit. But left alone it decides to seep throughout my body, sneaking into my thoughts until I believe that no one likes me, everybody hates me and why don't I have any friends. Isolation is sneaky, it moves quietly until it takes over. Isolation keeps me from the truth. Solitude brings me closer to it. There is a difference. Solitude brings me closer to conscious contact with God. Isolation cuts off contact and cuts away the healthy parts of my mind. Solitude allows for silence, for peace, and for conversation with Spirit. I feel the difference today as I sit in my yard, the blue heron has just flown overhead. The only sounds I hear are the brook trickling in the back, the mosquito flying past, the rustle of the oak leaves as a breeze comes. In solitude God is in the sounds, the trees, the grass and even the mosquito. Today I choose solitude instead of isolation. I may not choose the biology class over Milton, but the sun is shining, the clouds are puffy and the grass is tickling my feet.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Living in New England I have grown accustomed to frequent weather "issues." Snow, ice, wind and rain are all just what we deal with in the Berkshires. I will take those over earthquakes and tornadoes any day. At the beginning of June I came up with a brilliant goal. I would try to be completely positive about one thing, and it happened to be the weather. The topic of weather always comes up when speaking with strangers, in line at the grocery store, the guy pumping gas next to you at the gas station, and the telemarketer looking to butter you up. "Looks like rain." "Can you stand this heat?" "I heard six inches." My goal preceded a June that saw almost no sun. For eighty percent of the month, drops fell from the sky or threatened to. I have a picture on my cell phone of a patch of white (hail/snow) set against a background of lush green grass, taken in mid June. I do not remember any month as rainy in my home region. Attitudes were declining, and we are a hearty bunch of people. What's a foot of snow? Not enough to keep us home. But by the end of June my goal was not met. I had abandoned it. I was at the point where positivity could just go back to its hole. There is a light at the end of the tunnel however, or at least a partly sunny light. I have seen the sun over the last few days. Today I am not taking it for granted, because it could soon disappear. Like a flower I open up and soak in every minute of sunlight that makes its way through the cloud cover. Every moment is precious. I have watched people become giddy when they see its rays for 30 seconds. Maybe we have learned to appreciate it more after these days of dark. I haven't heard anyone complain about the heat or humidity, I have seen them express gratitude for every moment of sunlight given. I have learned that sometimes the goals that I make that seem to be the easiest are sometimes the most difficult to achieve. Nothing is guaranteed. Maybe this month I have learned a bit of humility as well. No, I cannot do absolutely everything I set my mind to the first time I attempt, but just as the sun peaks out from behind the storm clouds for moments at a time, I can be grateful for all of the goals I have reached, and keep trying to reach the ones I have not. It is now July, today's forecast is partly sunny, with a chance of thunderstorms. I am heading outside now to open my face to the sun, to soak in its beautiful rays, because two minutes from now it could be gone.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Most of the time I am able to skip dessert, well some of the time maybe. Sometimes I just cannot resist that something sweet at the end of the meal. I have already nourished my body, but need that sweet shot to add a little zing to the meal. But what ends up happening, is the sugar rushes into my blood, and my body becomes overwhelmed, unable to process the energy it did not need to begin with. I end up exhausted after the initial rush. They say that life is like a bowl full of cherries. Well I like mine chocolate covered. For the most part, my life is that bowl of cherries, sweet, ripe and juicy. I am on a fabulous journey, filled with sweet friends and just a hint of juicy drama. But every so often I overindulge. I gorge myself on fear. Most mornings I wake up and give thanks for all of the cool presents I receive. Today, however, I was paralyzed by the fear that I will not make it, and that God, who has not dropped me yet, will somehow trip over a pebble and drop me flat on my face. Everything I had planned for the day did not materialise, and what did was a ticket for not having my registration in the car. I forgot to send in the check, oops. Financial insecurity gripped me and started to squeeze, the abundance that surrounds me started to dull. Right now I am acknowledging that fear as an unnecessary sugar rush. It gives me energy, yet leaves me depleted at the end of the day. The calories are empty, it does nothing to nourish my body or spirit. It adds unnecessary drama to the day, a day that was perfect if I look back on it without a self induced sugar coma. My ticket would have been much higher had the officer actually been able to access the Internet from his car. If my morning appointment hadn't been cancelled, I would still be driving around in an unregistered car, oblivious. If it hadn't stormed this evening, I wouldn't have been able to sit and write. Everything is in perfect order. I just need to remember today that no matter what my mind says to me, I do not have to overindulge in fear today. Take one bite, savor it for a few minutes and give the rest of it to God. She can handle the sugar buzz.
Monday, July 6, 2009
I have heard many friends say that fear stands for either; fuck everything and run, or face everything and recover. For some reason I was pondering the word fear on my run today. My route takes me down a highway and eventually I veer off to a portion of the Appalachian Trail. For some strange reason I can run on the road, no problem, even when you can see the driver applying makeup or changing the radio station and coming just a tad too close for comfort. But when I head down the trail, immediately thoughts of saber toothed tigers and grizzly bears invade the serenity of the woods. Each twig snapping is not a squirrel, but a rabid fox, that will take me down with its bloodied fangs. I miss the lush green that shifts to wetlands within a quarter mile, because my brain is on overdrive. I pant to the top of the hill to the road and semi trucks that somehow seem safer than the dark of the forest. I wanted to create a new acronym for fear, and the only positive one that I came up with was, Find Every Abundance Radiantly. Now I do not know if that makes any sense to you, but it does for me. I was in a most beautiful part of the trail, the path was soft with pine needles, I crossed over a brook filled with cattails, and ran through moss covered rocks and ivy. I did not see the abundance that surrounded me, on all sides. I chose to feel fear, fear of mauling by extinct species at that. Today, for the rest of the day I choose to find each and every abundance radiantly. If not radiant then what?
Friday, July 3, 2009
Someone mentioned the word obstacle this morning and it got me to thinking. Looking back at the obstacles I have faced over the last few years, I find that the each bump has forced me to go in a different direction. That direction cut my travel time down, kind of like hitting a detour that isn't longer than your actual route (I know that's stretching it a bit). Two years ago I was desperately seeking new employment. I applied for numerous jobs that I possessed the skills to be successful at, yet they weren't places where I would find joy. I was in the running for a different position with my current employer, but was passed over. I was depressed, and started to lose faith in my abilities. Thank God I did not find a job at that time, because I would have never applied at the college I am now attending, taking courses that make me smile, and sometimes even skip. It would have taken me longer to get to the place I am today. I am a full time student, and next semester I will be studying children's literature, poetry, philosophy, Italian and short story writing. Compare that to scheduling volunteers and organising fundraisers. I am glad I hit that boulder in the middle of the road. I am taking a road less traveled, but the view is spectacular.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
This morning I was wondering just how I could have a lasting relationship with a nondenominational God. Most folk have a church they go to, for prayer, and celebration. I choose not to be part of organised religion. In most of these practices I would not be allowed to serve God, because I happen to be lacking a Y chromosome. I do want, however, a lasting relationship with God. So I am creating my own religion, or more so, my own personal relationship with a high deity. As this is a relationship, I first look to my earthly relationships to know how to start. When I am in a living arrangement with a partner, I wake up and say Good Morning to the person sleeping next to me. Today I choose to say Good Morning to God. As I thank this hypothetical person for cooking me a beautiful feast of French toast and soy bacon, I therefore thank God for my breakfast. I call up hypothetical partner throughout the day, "Hey," I'll say, "how is your day?" I will keep in contact with this partner throughout my day, checking in at various points, asking for help with different duties, and letting this person "see" me, the good parts and the ugly parts. I will practice honesty with this person. These little practices with my hypothetical mate can be used to form a lasting partnership with a higher power. Hypothetical Person, Higher Power, both relationships need to grow, and both need an energy expenditure from me. I have to do the work in order to get the French toast.