Archive for March, 2009

Learning to talk

This past weekend I participated in the next communication seminar. (The first one was last month.) It is truly a fascinating experience and I’m learning a lot. This time I even confronted the person who annoyed me last time — simply told her how I felt about a certain issue, without being defensive or aggressive. Turns out, she was surprised and had no idea. Later she thanked me for bringing it up. I don’t feel like going into details this morning. Still feel slightly overwhelmed from the intense and sometimes stormy waves of insight. I wrote a poem this morning, so I’ll share that instead.

Learning to talk

Learning to talk, I’ve done it twice.
Once to be honest, once to be nice.
Now I can feel where I’m at, where you are
Now it is real, whether near or so far.
The touch of a finger, the look in your eyes
A mutual exchange and we realize.
The warmth from your hand shields the light in my heart
We connect and protect and we each know our part.
To put into words, I must understand
What is it that I feel, want, need and demand.
To hear what you say, I need more than two ears,
But a heart, eyes and mind to discern hopes and fears.

The skies of your mind, they are open to me,
the sun’s light of your thoughts, it shines on me
I am I, you are you, and together we’re we,
We feel, listen and question, and then we can see.

Is it one picture, or a variation of two
As long as we meet and agree on what’s true
That reality suffices and settles the deal
We examine, discover and begin to heal.
Take time to reflect, let clear the murky waters
All the particles of fear experience taught us.

Open your mind to confidence and courage
The bouts of fate will cease to discourage
You become part of the process, taking steps one by one,
You stay in motion, as each task is done.

The skies of your mind, they are open to me,
the sun’s light of your thoughts, it shines on me
I am I, you are you, and together we’re we,
We feel, listen and question, and then we can see.


March 30, 2009 at 10:54 am Leave a comment

Crisis anyone?

In a sense, it has been the calm before the storm. I have been collecting my energy, assessing my resources, and now am in the midst of a big change. It is fairly easy to go along from day to day as long as things stay the same. In the past, the strategy was: cope and complain.

After a season of soul-searching and reflection, the time has come. This weekend I officially start the search for my own apartment. The timing couldn’t be worse. Finances on a global level are somewhat precarious, and it trickles all the way down to me. But then, timing has never been one of my strengths. Why start now?

Just kidding! Now is the time, thus the timing is right — regardless of appearances. During the past few days, I have consulted the Mayan Calendar to know if the timing is propitious. It is. The themes have been about birth through fire, letting go of all that doesn’t belong to me. I’ve been encouraged to open my heart like a flower to the sun and let it help me grow.

With a focus on unconditional love, it is a time for illumination, and to join the dance of light. While reading “The Temple of the Subway Goddess” I often smile and think: Perfect timing! This is just the novel I needed! I’m reading it slowly, enjoying the sound of the words, the style of writing, the energy, and the thoughts and feelings that it evokes within me. Literature has always been a saving grace to my existence.

It was a long, agonizing talk, but I remained calm, shed few tears, and focussed on staying grounded and firm. It worked. I won’t go into details, but want to share this to encourage others, which is why I’ll tell you how I am now. Inside everything is churning. I am excited, impatient, and a little scared, but I know this is the path I am destined to take.

I must be patient, as even major change can only occur in steps — if it is to be done well, and that is my goal. There is a certain sense of responsibility that we all get through this as well as we possibly can — my children, my husband and myself.

Yesterday I stood in the kitchen nearly in tears. I felt so alone. All of my friends are so far away, I told myself. Who can I talk to? Then I decided to reach out here — locally. I called one friend. She didn’t answer. I called another and asked what she was doing at the moment. She said the friend I’d just called was on her way to pick her up and they were going to go out for a cup of coffee, because she was climbing the walls. I laughed and asked if I could join them to commiserate. It was wonderful! I’m not ready to talk about all of this just yet, but it did good to go out, be with friends, and see how they are doing. Another friend joined us at the café and it was a pleasant time-out from daily stuff, worries and fear.

The one friend is in the process of separating from her husband as well, so she does know about my situation. That is a comfort, that we can share that. We’ve been confiding in each other over the past few months, and helping each other take the necessary steps — as well as sharing information, giving feedback and encouragement.

A blog keeps coming to mind that someone wrote a while ago about birth through fire. Fire can destroy a forest, but afterwards life returns and new things grow, now that they have space. That comforts me. It is not easy, but I keep telling myself I have to stand it. This increased tension will eventually go away, and afterwards leave me in a better state than I’ve been. Perhaps in a better state than I’ve ever been!

So at the moment, support is very important. And trust in my intuition and what my heart tells me. I pray, meditate and do my best to take care of myself — emotionally and physically. This added stress requires that I get enough rest, feed myself well, and do all that I can to mobilize my energy and stay in good shape.

It could be tempting to overeat or drink too much alcohol, but that would jeopardize my goal. Since that goal is clear, I want nothing to stand in the way or screw things up. No more excuses. It was tempting in the past to stay in this situation. Materially, I had it made. However, that isn’t enough and I am convinced that if I maintain this situation out of fear of the unknown, it will destroy me.

Thus, I throw care to the wind, breathe deeply, and trust in the universe. It’s one thing to expound upon it, and quite another to live by it. It has taken a long time, but I am ready. The necessary tools and strength are there. There’s no turning back!

March 26, 2009 at 11:30 am Leave a comment

One Year Old

I’ve been so busy, that I only now noticed that I started this blog one year ago in February! So, somewhat belated, I would like to thank all of my readers for their support, comments, and emails. Thank you for shared confidences, for your trust, and for your encouragement. I’ve had my up and down moments during the course of the year and greatly appreciated the feedback along the way.

March 24, 2009 at 10:05 am Leave a comment

The Temple of the Subway Goddess

That is the name of the latest book I am reading. I just started it today and here’s a wonderful quote from page 15: “Dreams, visions, and magic were not mirages, but were the means by which one survived and met life’s basic needs day to day.” That strikes a chord. Lately I feel exactly that way: my dreams and visions are what have kept me alive. And they still keep me going.

I read that this morning after a night of very little sleep. Last night I worked the night shift. There was a storm and a banging window woke me up at 1 am. At 2 am one of the residents woke me up because she’d had a nightmare and couldn’t sleep. I went back to her room with her and did a mini-fantasy trip (relaxation and imagining herself on a meadow on a sunny day, where she finds a tree, sits down, leans against it and falls asleep — she was out in less than 5 minutes!). Then someone’s alarm clock went off at 4.30 am and he didn’t turn it off. I managed to weave the beeping sound into my dream for what seemed an eternity, then finally got up and shut it off.

Though lacking sleep, I decided to follow the original plan and go to the gym on my way home — and start reading my new book. It is “a novel of sisterhood, the quest for a modern woman’s sacred spirit, and urban renewal, circa 5000 BCE” — and just what I’m in the mood for! The author, Carolyn Lee Boyd, offers it as a simple novel, but also invites the reader to dive in and use it as a tool for her own personal development. Of course I have chosen the latter alternative. Thus I’m taking my time reading it — enjoying the writing, evoked thoughts and insights, and using it as a source of encouragement along my path. I think it was perfect timing!

Oh, by the way, if any of you are interested in the book…check it out at Goddess in a Teapot. You can buy a real book or download it for free. I’m old-fashioned and prefer the feel of a book in my hands. I have a thing about turning pages and feeling the paper between my fingers. Oh, by the way, the author is a friend of mine, but that’s not why I’m recommending the book. There’s a better reason: I think it’s good!

March 24, 2009 at 9:59 am Leave a comment

The way you are

This past weekend I was in the city where I lived for 18 years. It’s on the other side of this country. I played a concert there — the first half of my cross-country two-gig tour. (The other half will be this weekend at a local place.) Since I hadn’t been back to the city for a while, I scheduled to see several friends. There was a lot of catching up to do.

This time I only had a few hours’ free time on Sunday afternoon. After brunch with two friends, I walked around (alone) for a while, went to a museum and after that wandered some more — ending up at the little café we used to go to. That place always used to bring out serious discussions. It was nice to simply wander and let memories come and go.

But rather than rambling, let me return to brunch. One of my friends confessed that she realized she had adapted herself way too much to her husband over the years, and felt that she had lost herself. Just recently she has been reclaiming her life and self. She goes to the movies, to the theater, goes jogging. I commented that she looked much better than she did when I saw her last time — a year ago.

This type of confidence isn’t shocking, as my experience was similar. What surprised me was the person who did the talking. I always thought they had a near-perfect relationship with so much in common! No. It turns out, she even changed her line of study from Fine Art to Anthropology, just to fit in with his more “scientific” way of life. She turned 50 last year and is doing better than ever!

A young work colleague (23) recently told me that she had broken up with her boyfriend. He criticized her all the time, blamed her for things that went wrong in the relationship, put down her friends and family, expected her to fit right in with his friends and spend time with his family, and she realized he wanted her to move in with him just to not be alone — and harped the whole time about his ex-wife. Until recently. A few weeks ago, he said: “She’s not so bad after all!” That’s just not what a girlfriend wants to hear!

Listening to her describe the situation, I hesitated, but then said that there were remarkably many parallels to my early relationship with my husband. I don’t know if it helps to pass such experience on, as it seems we all have to go through these things and make our own discoveries, but I shared some of my insights and said she could be glad to get out now. If their relationship is based on him being more important than she, and on her taking on the role of therapist to help him get over his wife, I warned her that such a foundation is hard to change. After over 20 years I can vouch for that! We created a lopsided basis and didn’t manage to get it together after all this time.

I reassured her that she is fine just the way she is. There is someone out there who is just right for her. There is absolutely no need or reason to suffer as she does, to adjust herself to him in such a way that she betrays herself. Absolutely not.

If you are in a similar situation, give it some thought. I’m not saying you should run away this minute. Or at all. I simply want to say that some habits are hard to change. And the difficulties I mentioned will not go away with time. You have to actively work on them. Or leave. That is my opinion.

Listen to your heart. It knows what to do.

And what song fits this topic? Of course! Just the way you are, from Billy Joel.


March 18, 2009 at 8:55 am 2 comments

Pulling the wool over my eyes

I’ve been away from the States for so long. I think that is an expression, but now that I wrote it, I’m not so sure. However, I’m sure you’ll know what I mean very soon. Do you ever — right in the middle of whatever is happening — pretend it’s not? Oh, it’s not really this bad. Oh, he doesn’t mean it that way. Oh, things will get better. Oh, it could be worse. In my case, I recently realized, it had a lot to do with not truly believing in what I want for my life.

It’s a habit of mine to settle for what is. That isn’t necessarily bad, as some things we cannot change. Here we go again! Back to the Serenity Prayer! I’d say I spent a good part of my life focussing on the first sentence: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” After talking about it, dreaming about it, wishing, hoping, crying, despairing, I am ready to graduate to the next sentence: “[Grant me] the courage to change the things I can.”

That is what I have been mulling over recently, which is why I have been so quiet. I have come to some good (subjectively judged, of course!) realizations and am developing a game plan. Perhaps I am an idealist, but I am convinced that if I deal with change in a good way — with love and wishing the best for all involved — that it will indeed turn out for the best.

Once again I am focussing on one step at a time. I am also thinking things through rather than impulsively jumping in. The difference is, I’m not thinking things through to leave everything as it is. I’m thinking things through to actively make big changes. Things are turning around. First they have to turn around in my head. As they do that, I feel the changed attitude taking hold. I am convinced that when it comes time to go through the motions, they will come naturally, because the big change already occurred in my head. This is different from the old pattern of tolerating until things become intolerable and then exploding. I don’t recommend that approach.

I will spare you exact details and particulars, but want to share what is important for me now. I focus on examining the situation clearly. I observe what happens and how I feel in various interactions. I stand back and observe the big picture, with all of the interactions and stress factors. A solution has presented itself. Rather than seeking the big solution to change the world all at once, I am focussing on an interim solution, which would work well for me and for the others.

Right now I am focussing on clarifying goals and accepting the decisions I have made for myself. Integrating them into my consciousness and heart, letting go of my guilt feelings and accepting that I am indeed entitled to live my life. The way it was destined. I have been on a major detour, but the right road is in sight. I’m just navigating the last few tricky turns to get back on it.

At times, it just doesn’t seem possible that I could have come so far and yet still have so far to go. But whether I believe it or not, that’s how it is. There are still challenges and opportunities for growth that I avoided up until now. I am lazy and prefer a comfortable life, so I was willing to make some extreme concessions. Only now do I realize just how extreme. If I’d realized it sooner, I would have made changes sooner. It takes what it takes, that’s all I can say.

It is a comfort to know that I am breaking through baggage that has been passed on for a few generations, so it’s no wonder it has taken a while. Some habits and behavior patterns are so well disguised that they appear normal to us. I’m gathering up my energy for the big spring cleaning in my heart, home and life. If I see myself as a tree, I’m on the brink of spring. The inner juices are getting ready to flow. The branches need examining and pruning, to enhance growth once spring comes on full force. There isn’t much time, but I remain calm and directed.

To go off on a tangent, I remember in the early days of recovery when I would go to therapy and be totally hyper. I was elated because I hadn’t puked for a few days, a week, or whatever, and thought that everything was just wonderful. The therapist commented that I was floating. I was not grounded on the earth. I was holding my breath in excitement, hoping that nothing would go wrong to shatter the new-found fragile recovery.

Today my recovery is not about holding my breath. It’s about daily stuff, with the regular ups and downs that go along with it. Being a harmony-oriented person, it can be quite a challenge to deal with that stuff — even now. I still want “happily ever after” and that’s just not the way life is. Life is a great work of art, a big picture, and it has all kinds of stuff in it — some pretty, some ugly. In the end, it will be a masterpiece, but today I don’t see it all. That’s okay.

Here’s a song from Judy Collins that my mother recorded onto a 30-minute cassette over and over and over again. That was somewhere around 1970. Back then it drove me crazy. But it’s a beautiful song. I guess I had to grow into it.

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
When every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From win and lose, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Schemes and dreams and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

March 11, 2009 at 9:16 am 2 comments

A time to be quiet

I’ve been quiet lately, because I’m sorting things out and figuring out what to do. On the brighter side… my daughter screamed and yelled at me because I wouldn’t drive her somewhere this evening. I said, “No, I am not responsible for you going out on the weekend. And it seems like every weekend there is an emergency so I have to drive you to the train station. You can walk.”

I suggested she stay home and we watch a movie together. “Not with you! I’ll barricade myself in my room before I spend the evening with you!” I made popcorn and settled in front of the TV. Ten minutes later, she was on the couch next to me. We ended up watching a movie, and then playing cards together. It turned out to be a nice evening. Just the two of us, as my husband is away and my son was out with friends. And so, my 16-year-old learned that sometimes it’s not the end of the world to stay home with her mother on a Saturday night.

March 7, 2009 at 11:29 pm Leave a comment

What's on my mind