Life and writing are akin to me at times. I struggle to get a letter on the page and taking a deep breath is difficult at times. If I don’t try, the page remains blank, empty of the stories hidden within me. And if I don’t take that deep inhale, my breathing is shallow, my chest tight, holding all the doubts and fears within.
I take the big breath, inhaling up the side of the imaginery square in my head. Then comes the slow exhalation across the top, inhaling down the side of the square and exhaling across the bottom. I do this again, a little slower until I feel my self relaxing and expanding into the universe. I am saved again.
Sheba and I are trudging along to our own pace through the desert of our winter. There are so many ups and downs. There are many twists and turns. Life leaps and catches us unaware at the most inconvenient times. But then, when is it convenient? We have to buckle up, or is it buckle down – to grin and bear it. I can feel myself baring my teeth into a sneer. Best just to smile, nod and carry on.
We are both doing remarkably well considering. I have put both of us on a diet. It’s difficult to make this journey with heavy hips and thighs. A little less weight and a little more heart would be good. I have added some Omega-3 fatty acids to give us more courage. I hope it doesn’t make us burp and give us stinky breath. Wish us luck. We have a long way to go.
There are many stories in the desert. Won’t you take a seat and have a listen?
I come from a culture rich in superstition and ancestory whorship. We honour and worship the deities and ancestors by laying out food and burning paper money on special occasions. Red is the colour of luck and prosperity. I learn most of this and all things Chinese from my mother. She is a great storyteller.
A few days ago Sheba and I stopped in for a visit with her on our walk. I shared Sheba’s anxiety attacks with her. I was wise enough not to tell her that Sheba probably absorbed them from me. She in turn told me of an episode when she was a little girl in China. She was sent out to fetch her brother for supper. It was dusk. She came across a crippled man. His appearance and the strange way he walked gave her a great fright. She ran home crying, I’m so scared! I’m so scared!
She fell quite ill with fright and could not recover. The family searched for remedies and learned that she has to get it from the man who made her ill. It was said that if she ate a certain kind of cookie the man had bit into, she would recover. My relatives went to the man but he would not cooperate. He did not understand that my mother was just a child and easily frightened. She was gravely ill. There was no disrespect. Still he was angry and not moved until he was admonished by his wife.
He followed my relatives back to their house. They gave him the cookie. He bit into it and then gave it to my mother. She ate it and was able to recover. My uncle, my mother’s older brother said she had great chi to have survived.
Her advice for Sheba is to give her something to wear to anchor her – to give her heart. So now Sheba is sporting a purple magnetic necklace I found in my jewellry box. She is less nervous but still on guard, looking over her shoulders while she eats. And someone has to stand by her while she is eating out of her bowl. It’s not like her at all. She loves to eat and needed no coaxing or guarding before. I hope she snaps out of it soon. If she could only talk! It would be a story.
It’s a bit cold here in our desert but we are soothed by its stillness and quietness. Our hearts are gladdened by the brillance of the sun. It beckons Sheba and I out the door and down that yellow brick road. It is not always paved with gold nor lined with friendliness.
We try to take things in stride – brave the chill, the rudeness and mean shouts behind our backs. We try not to respond in kind. But I did hold up evidence that we are responsible dog and dog owner. We pick up after ourselves. So what is your problem that you bang on your window and send your kids out to scream at us?
No matter. My temperature did not rise. I did not come undone. And there was a friendly witness who gave us smiles and Sheba many pats on the head. Jesus came to rescue us in the desert. He helps those who help themselves.
I am buoyed by my new found calmness. The hard work has paid off. I am nearing four weeks of practicing being in my body, in the now, accepting things as they are. My uncertainties and fears have lessened. I tremble no more. I am recovering parts of myself lost along life’s highways and byways. I will be finished the course when I come out of the desert. How sweet it is – NOW.
The road to well-being and happiness is not an easy one. This is not a rant. It is what I am learning over and over again. Damn! There is no getting there. When you get there, you find that there is no there. It is a continuous journey through hills, valleys, deserts and oases. The terrain is terrifying, glorious and unpredictable. Beware if you tend to use the cruise control.
I’m venturing into the desert again for forty days and nights. This time I’m taking Sheba with me. Together we will explore the barren and arid landscape like Dorothy and Toto. We will find our own yellow brick road through our Land of Oz. Whether or not we will find the Emerald City is not important for us. We want to develope our intelligence, heart and courage. We want to come out the other side healed and unshakeable.
We are on our way. I know there will be many challenges ahead of us. But that is the pull, isn’t it? There is room and time if you want to join us.
Have I been complaining a lot lately? I probably have but it’s been a hard year. When hasn’t it been? This little sabbatical of silence has been good for me. But now I’m having a little difficulty finding my words again. There is a price for everything.
A new year is beginning. The Year of the Goat starts tomorrow. Let me start by clearing out old hurts and wounds. Let me sweep out what no longer serves me today. No sweeping on New Year’s Day. You don’t want to sweep out the good along with the debris. I am very superstitious. I come by it naturally. I am Chinese. I believe in ghosts. I dream of ghosts. I see ghosts.
Did I tell you the demon found me again? He was knocking at my door. I heard the key turned. Click! I went oh-oh. Time to be viligant. I was grateful for the warning. I had time to prepare, arm myself and erect my fortress. Still, it was a tough time. But I have survived to tell about it. I am stronger and wiser for it.
I believe there are inexplicable (to us humans) forces out there. Some of them are beneign and some are not. Perhaps some of it is generated and sent out by people like you and me, unbeknown to ourselves. All I know is I am ‘sensitive’ to their presence. I have to trust myself in that knowledge and not label myself as a little eccentric and crazy.
The demon is gone. I can let go of the vigilance a little and be myself again. I have lost a few words but not chunks of my life. I have weathered the storm well with Sheba’s help. She has taken a few hits for me. Yesterday, she ran screaming from ‘it’ in fright, legs trembling so hard that all of her shook. All I could do was hold and stroke her till she quieted down. I hope that it is over for both of us. I need to make sure I have pulled our drawbridge up and our dragon is on alert.
Chinese New Year is coming on February 19th. It’s the year of the goat. I’m thinking of my roots, where I come from. I have travelled away far and a long time from my homeland. It resides still in my heart.
I’m remembering our house in the village. It was built with money my grandfather sent from Gold Mountain. It was two storied with a cupula on top. I loved climbing up the stairs and emerging from it to play on the roof. It was where I saw my ghosts. My mother told me they were our ancestors and no need to be afraid.
I have memories of chasing chickens around the courtyard. Our house was big, being a Gold Mountain house. We lived in one half and my grandfather’s brother’s family lived in the other half. We were a household of women and children. The men were over- seas working and sending money home. The only adult man is the household was my grandfather’s brother. That’s how it was. We sustained and supported each other.
Down the lane was another Gold Mountain house. My grandfather’s other two brothers’ families lived there. Just like us, they were a household of women and children. We were all overseered by my grandfather’s one brother. But in reality, it was the women who took care of him.
Close to Chinese New Year, memories of New Year’s Eve come to me. I am snug in my bed of wooden planks and a wooden block for a pillow. I don’t recall the hardness or the discomfort of such a bed. But being in winter, it was probably lined with a quilt. In my mind’s eye, I see the flames as the women tended the fire through the night to cook the pastries for the celebration. I feel such contentment and security. That memory is such a blessing to have. It nourishes me through all of life.
So here’s an early toast to the year of the goat. Gong Hee Fat Choy!
I love the word possibilities. It’s the hope that opens my heart’s door to let in laughter, love and forgiveness. It holds a promise that a leaf is forthcoming and a bud will bloom. Possibilities push back discouragement, frustration and a downtrodden spirit. They teach me patience – to hang in there. Rome was not built in a day. The road to Anywhere is not an easy one.
Presto! happens only in magic, an optical illusion like time-lapsed photography. We cannot make results happen like that. The presto and voila come much slower. Life doesn’t happen just pushing ENTER or DELETE. Dang, hey? Anything worthwhile takes effort and time. It’s the daily grind. It always take longer than you figure and like. But what is the hurry? Is your life full of emergencies you have to tend to?
Be patient, my dear. Stay calm and enjoy the moments as they come. Everything has its time. The leaves will emerge, the bud will burst into magnificent blooms. You will be awed by the richness and beauty of what life can offer. Take time to live each day to the fullest and believe in possibilities. Be grateful to the Universe.
I’m into the second week of an eight week formal meditation practice in Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Full Catastrophe Living. So far so good but it is not easy. It should be no surprise to me. It is easy to tell Sheba to sit but she doesn’t stay. I haven’t really insisted upon it either. I give up too easily, so as soon as my back is turned, she is up and away. Like mistress, like dog.
Being the mistress, I’m having more success with staying – at least my body is. My mind darts here, there and everywhere. My body wants to bolt, too. I stay. My pulse races. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. I breathe and let go, remembering to accept what is at the moment. I see the poster in front of me. “Live Each Day to the Fullest”. The words soothe me and I breathe again. I feel my heart calming, the beats slower. I read the line “Live Each Day to the Fullest” again. That is what I want.
I had not known that it is so difficult to stay in the body. My mind wants to be somewhere else all the time. I give thanks to whatever that has led me to this process of discovery. The power lies within my body and spirit. It is not out there in Somewhere Else.
It’s Wednesday and I’m ready for Friday Fictioneers and our stories of 100 words. We’re hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields of Addicted to Purple. Here’s my 100 words for the picture prompt. I hope you will enjoy them. These are hard times and we need a little wizardry and lots of rainbows in our lives.
Dorothy wondered what had happened. Last thing she remembered was feeding the chickens for Aunt Em. Uncle Henry was cleaning the barn.
She gazed around, her mouth opened, her eyes round in wonder. She saw the rainbow. She was dazed and amazed. She remembered being swept up by a big wind.
She felt something squirm in her arms. Toto! Oh thank God! At least she was not alone in this strange place. She put the little black dog down. They have to find their way back home.
She saw the yellow brick road. With Toto following, she headed towards it.
It’s a beautiful sunny day – calm and cool, but not too cool. I wish I was calm and cool but I am not. Those little gremlins are nibbling at my heels, disturbing my peace. Sheba is making her little whining noises at the same time. Comfort me! Feed me! I rub her ears and tell her it’s a bit early. I give in. Otherwise, I would have no peace.
Perhaps today is not a good day to declutter. But then, would there be such a day? I’ve been waiting for years now. It hasn’t shown up so I took a deep breath and started.
I’m a clutter bug, not a true blue hoarder. But then, maybe I am or could easily become one. I better get a move on! I am not plunging head long into the dig and clearing of stuff. I don’t have the energy or presence of mind so I am treading softly and carefully doing the easy stuff. I’m having a tough time parting with stuff, even the easy stuff. I haven’t practice sorting and detaching at all. It is really the ideas and memories they hold and not the things themselves.
The gremlins are getting more stimulated now. I feel their agitation in my head. I breathe in and out, seeing and feeling myself in the warm water of the swimming pool. My arms rise and fall with each stroke. I’m flipping my legs softly like a mermaid’s tail. I can do it! I gather the dried roses from the basket, breaking off the blooms from the stem. I will enjoy their colours for one more day. Tomorrow they will be recycled back into earth. No need to hang on and gather dust forever. There’s more waiting in the wings.
It’s tough letting go of forever. I’m feeling the gremlins and fear of letting go. After all, it is the goal of this blog – to dig deep through the fear and letting it go. Another deep breath and I’m down in the basement. I have dug through the basket of laundered clothes, untouched in at least 3 years. It feels as if a bogey man was hiding there, ready to pounce out at me.
No bogey man. I found only myself, the one who forgot to take care of herself for awhile – and some clothes I didn’t put away. They are in bags now, ready for donation to Value Village. Is it melodramatic to say that it was TOUGH and I feel a bit shaky? Well, it is and I am. It’s definitely time for another cup of tea and maybe a chocolate chip cookie or two.