TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREE

Tomorrow is Canada’s birthday. There will be a lot of celebrating and singing of this native land, the true north strong and free. I see in my mind’s eye how we stand tall, straight and on guard as we sing our national athem. Even though the maple leaf is our emblem, it is the magestic spruce trees I see standing tall on guard.

It’s a reminder for me to stand on my own guard, take responsibility for the things that I do and say. My life is my own. It is my own garden to tend. I know all its terrain, how much watering and fertilizing it needs. It’s my job to weed and till the soil. Come harvest, I can take pleasure to share my bounty if I can. Sometimes you put more in than you get back. It’s how life is. There are no equalized payments.

It is late in the evening. I am listening to the swish slosh of the dishwater. My mind is a bit unsettled. No point in trying to get a good night’s sleep just yet. It won’t work. It’s good to be here tapping rhythmically, relaxing my body and my mind and coaxing my brain into alpha waves. I hate to struggle. I’ve been struggling too much. It’s time to change my pattern. I’m letting go of things I can’t change. I’m letting go of things that are not mine.

I think I’m getting sleepy. Wishing all a happy Canada Day for tomorrow. Good night and good sleep.

WELCOME TO MY WORLD

So, I’ve let out my morning angst and shed my morning tears. I must feel and acknowledge my feelings of disappointments and sadness. I must give voice to what is in my heart. To deny myself and suppress all that is in me does me harm. I’ve lived too long in a world of taboos where you feel all the unspoken tensions. It’s like being in a vacuum. Can you hear the sound of one hand clapping? Do not disturb the shit. Now that the shit has hit the fan, let me get on with life. So welcome to my world.

Welcome to my world
Won’t you come on in?
Miracles, I guess
Still happen now and then
Step into my heart
Leave your cares behind
Welcome to my world
Built with you in mind
Knock and the door will open
Seek and you will find
Ask and you’ll be given
The key to this world of mine
I’ll be waiting here
With my arms unfurled
Waiting just for you
Welcome to my world
Waiting just for you
Welcome to my world

Yes, I still believe in miracles. It’s been a tough spring. Yet, the seeds got seeded and the seedlings got planted. They are all thriving despite our strange and erratic weather of hot, cold, dry and drenching rain. It gives me hope that we, as a planet will survive and thrive. I still believe in love. Despite the tsumanis we create ourselves, we will have our lifejackets on and learn to navigate the rough waters.

SITTING IN THE EVENING OF THE DAY

Sitting still with myself is a tough task. I am not comfortable with myself. Are you, with yourself? It’s like facing a panel of judges, answering questions, facing up to truths. Yes, let me out of here! I squirm and wiggle. Finally I sit. Okay, I’m ready. I can be still. I can face reality. Let me have the cold facts.

How silly I am. I know the truths already. They’re unspoken, unacknowledged, just beneath the skin. Not saying them outloud does not diminished their roar, their need to be heard and tended to. Why are we am I so afraid of truths? Now my mask is off. I am not so afraid anymore. Just a bit. Being afraid brought more suffering along that of fear. I don’t want that. Get out. Stop it.

A moment of victory, conquering fear and anxiety. I just have to string the moments together to have an hour, a day, a week to a life of living bravely in the moment.


Sitting with myself is harder than I thought. I had to leave for a few days in the heat. The seat was hotter than I can tolerant. It’s cooler today and so am I. I am exhausted by it all. I am fresher in the morning. There’s things to do. No time for sitting or contemplation. By late afternoon I am on the downward spiral. I struggle to feel bubbly. I struggle for energy to do my art challenges. I know from experience that if I start, the struggle is resolved. That’s what I do. I stand up. I move. I do.

It is after 9 pm. I’ve made and ate supper. The dishes are done. The garbage out. I’ve thinned the carrots and filled one raised bed with water on the way back from taking the garbage out. That’s how I get things done when doing is difficult. It is one little thing followed by one little thing. It’s moving one foot in front of the other.

If I sound a little melancholy, it is because I am. It is the evening of the day. I sit and tap out my words and feelings. I am not sure if they are true. What I know for sure is life is miraclous and unpredictable. It always has been but I’m truly recognizing it now. I’m learning not to question the whys and wherefores, the ones without answers. I am a little more comfortable with myself now. I am appreciating the peace and the silence my tapping has bought me. It is time to say goodnight.

 

THE HEAT IS ON


There are no easies especially on sizzling hot days. My AC doesn’t work. Turning it on only killed the furnace fan. And no AC. How does that make life better, eh? So here I am chilling on the deck, trying to tap wildly. Sheba is sleeping at my feet. I’m a little cramped, no room to stretch my legs. Oh well, I’ll have another little sushi roll. They’re mighty tasty. I only meant to have a couple. But I might eat the frigging tray.

It is midnight. I should go to bed. The day is always full. The heat makes it difficult to move fast. It’s not till now that I find time to sit and be with myself. So one more sushi and I will head off. I am getting sleepy. I will come back in the morning.


I didn’t quite make it back here this morning. Sheba decided to sleep outside on her hollowed hallowed ground last night. She wouldn’t budge. I left her there knowing she will want to come in once I’m sleeping. Sure enough, she barked me awake at 1:30 am. I had a difficult time getting back to sleep. I got up at 6 am. I’m a little sleep deprived today.

We’re hanging out on the deck again. It’s 9:30 pm. I did get my AC and the furnace fan working again. That is after a few hours and a couple of hundred dollars. It’s worth the cost keeping us two old broads cool and collected. It also gave me a sense of empowerment – fixing problems instead of not. I’ve learned by now that problems never go away on their own. A little pain in the beginning is better than a bunch more down the road. I would have felt better if I had more sleep. My energy was spent in the morning walking Sheba. Then tending the garden while it was still relatively cool.

So life is not exactly a piece of cake. It never has been for me. Probably not for you either. I’ve never been comfortable with these pains in the ass. I’ve never been able to sit still with them. If you don’t know me, I don’t suffer well in silence. I don’t holler. I voice and try to get to the bottom of things, rationalize and FIX. It hasn’t done me much good at all. I end up being angry, feeling victimized and guilty for everything all the same.

I think I’ve finally come to my senses. I’m finally hearing Dr. Phil, Oprah or whoever that said: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. I have HEARD. I’ve always claimed that I am comfortable in my own skin. I don’t think I really am. Why else would I try to get out of it all the time? Why do I feel victimized? Why do I feel guilty? Am I not worthy to be treated with consideration? Why am I so angry at myself all the time?

So dear hearts, it is time for me to step off this wheel of insanity. I’m stepping back into my own skin. I will learn to sit and stay in it like Sheba. I will try to keep quiet and not ask stupid questions that have no answers. Slap me if I ask another why. Tell me to shut up if I try to give you advice. Kick me if you have to. I’m going out of the advice and fixing business. The door is closed.

 

ON DEPRESSION, THERAPY AND MEDICATION

It’s no secret that I have trouble with being cheery sometimes. It feels like that most days but I know that is not true. There are people who think I AM a happy and cheerful person. Who am I to argue the point? The times that I have sought counselling, there’s always forms to fill asking about your feelings.  After I have completed such forms, I’ve always wondered, What am I doing here? Because at the end, I come to the conclusion that I’m always hopeful. When I mentioned it to the counsellor of the moment, he/she said: Well, that’s good!

The last time I sought professional help, the psychologist was impressed with me. He found me quite ‘fascinating’. It was more like myself counselling myself and he was the audience. In the end, he was not very helpful except as someone to listen to my venting. I clearly understood my problems. Solutions are hard to come by. How could I expect a stranger to solve them for me? He was no Peter Pan nor Tinker Bell. He had no magic wand or fairy dust.

Still when difficult time arise, I  want someone to give me an easy out. Checking through a list of professionals, I fired off an inquiry of cost. I was not surprised to get an answer of $120 per session. Since I am no longer working, I have no insurance. I would have to shoulder the cost myself. From past experience I decided that it would not be beneficial. It would not be a one session deal. It would be an expensive glorified “I feel sorry for myself crying my blues” party. I could talk to my family physician but he is always encouraging me to go on antidepressants. I am not a fan of them since they stirred up my lichen planus.

I’ve discovered this space is calming. It gives me breathing room. After I’ve tapped out my angst, I feel better. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I do tap out joy now and again. I find hope and inspiration and sometimes even solutions. Doing anything that interrupts my thoughts, that can give me a different slant on things can make me feel better. Even going down the stairs to the basement makes a difference – a different space, a different outlook. Everything I can do builds me up.

 

SUMMER TIME BLUES

I’m just passed my least favourite part of the day – lunch and its aftermath. I don’t know why that is. Today is the worst. I haven’t fully recovered from my cold. I still have that occasional hard to shake cough, echoing head and the weak in the legs fatigue. I’ve been to the doctor 4 times this month though not all were related to my cold. The garden is begging some TLC. I’ve been poking at it, not even managing to weed my 2 rows of peas along the fence. They’re getting choked out by self-seeded cilantro and weeds. They’re also crying for water though it had rained the other day.

It’s been this kind of a summer. I’m feeling its blues. How could I not? I could be the poster woman for the all year round depressive. No, I’m not ashamed or afraid to talk about it. Maybe I should be  but what’s there to be afraid or ashamed of? I’m acknowledging my feelings and seeking solutions. I’m trying to engage my left brain and right brain in a dialogue with each other. Two halves can make a whole. Two heads are better than one. More is better. I’m trying to console myself. Self love. Talk about euphemism! I’m on a roll.

I think the after lunch dirty dishes, pots and pans are symbols of the mess of life to me. When I look at the whole enchilada scattered on the counters, I just want to close my eyes. My God, how in the hell can I put everything right again? I feel whipped with fatigue and helplessness. There’s nothing to do except sigh and move however I can and at whatever speed I can.

I am always delight in fooling my feelings. I take pleasure in showing them up. I can do more even though they sit on me and try to pull me down in the deep dark hole. Sometimes it seem like I’m moving like a robot. Mechanical is ok. I keep moving until things are done. The dishes, pots and pans are washed. The mess in the fridge calls out to me. I can hear it even with the door closed. That’s the thing. I know it’s there even when I can’t see it. I’ve learned I can rest better when I answer its call. It’s not difficult after all.

I know it’s summer and it’s holiday time. I think I’m suppose to be happy, carefree and having a whole lot of fun. But I was never that kind of a girl. I’m not that kind of a woman. Growing up as a child of immigrant parents in a small town, summer was never what I called ‘fun’. It was lonely. School was over and it seems the whole town was away on holidays except for us. That was my perception at the time.

That is my perception today, too. Everybody is on holidays and having fun, except me. The difference now is I know IT IS NOT TRUE. It’s just my blues vocal of the moment. Tomorrow I could be singing a different tune.

 

THE GIRL I WANT TO BE

This morning I sat with Melli O’Brien and Jack Kornfield for the Mindfulness Summit’s session on how to integrate spiritual life with everyday life. It’s good to review and revisit the sessions from October 2015. When things are going well, I tend to forget and drop my practice of being in the moment along with my qigong routine. It’s when I’m in distress, I grope my way back. I have done this time and time again. I am sure I am not alone.

It took some effort to quiet my mind to sit, watch and listen. Like Anne Lamott says: My mind is like a bad neighbourhood. I try not to go there alone. Oh, I wish I had written that! She talks like I feel. It’s great that someone else has the same feelings. I don’t feel so alone in my ‘badness’. It’s a conundrum why I feel this way. The only explanation is I am vocal about my feelings and opinions. It’s what is advocated – be open, be honest. Yet when you are I am, I get feelings of disapproval. Maybe I’m just thin skinned. I cannot help being who I am – open and honest. I do know the word tact. I was well brought up.

It is ridiculous that I feel this insecurity in this stage of my life. Why am I still seeking approval from anyone? Am I not grown? Am I not responsible? Am I not independent? Of course, I am to all of the above. What I am seeking now is freedom from this feeling of ‘badness’, of not being enough of this and that, of being at fault for everything. I am seeking peace of mind and NOT  approval.

I am sitting in mindfulness. I close my eyes and try to picture the girl I want to be. Peace and contentment came over me. I do not really see a girl. I felt her. I felt her goodness, kindness and generosity. I am not a bad girl at all. Please do not transfer your feelings onto me. Give me a break.

I AM THE REASON

It’s my therapy hour. I’ve come to tap myself well. I’m pleased to say that my cough has eased alot. I had a decent night of sleep, though I did have to get up and sleep on the couch for a spell. I made myself relax and stay in bed till almost 7 am. I had lost the art of sleep and rest for awhile. There was too much energy bouncing off walls. I had great difficulty harnessing it and bringing myself back to centre.

I’ve returned to my mindfulness practice. It’s not easy. First I had to gain a level of calmness to be receptive. I had spent the month of October, 2015 with the Mindfulness Summit. I bought the whole program and still has access to it. It was the best thing I had done for myself. So this morningI found myself sitting again with Melli Obrien and her guest, Paul Gilbert.

Professor Paul Gilbert’s presentation on the Importance of Self Compassion alone is worth the cost. His explanation on our brain gave me the insight on how we are all wired. It helped to stop my blaming and trashing myself. It is not my fault. I didn’t choose the brain I was given. Having an understanding of my brain wiring helps me to make wiser choices and how to work with the brain I was given. Every insight makes life a little easier. He has written a book on The Compassionate Mind. It has some good and bad reviews. I have ordered it from the library and will judge for myself.

This road is rocky and tricky, especially when I have a tricky brain. But aren’t all roads full of potholes? What I know for sure is I shouldn’t keep falling into the same damn hole. The least I can do is go down a different street with different holes. I could learn something new and develop new pathways in my brain. Life is hard. It is hard to get up, dress up and show up every morning. But I am  enough reason to do so – every single morning.

 

LIZARD BRAIN CHATTER

Summer time and the living hasn’t been easy. I’m doing my best not to fret about my disappointments, disillusionments and all the other dis—s. The mind is not so easy to control, especially mine. It’s skipping and hopping all over. Even the practice of mindfulness cannot calm it down. So I brought it here – to the page. It has to pay attention, watch the letters march across the page, trying to make words, sentences and thoughts. The rhythm of my tapping fingers soothes its dendrites. Now they’re opened to the business of receiving and sending.

So what am I going to do with my summer? It yawns before me like Stephen Hawking’s  black hole. I hope there is escape out of mine. Now that my cold is finally leaving my body, I do see a tiny glimmer of light. Is it bright enough to sustain me for the summer? Perhaps it is just my lizard brain talking. I don’t have to listen to it. It’s just talk as they say.

Talk is not always good for the soul. It can eat a hole in you like the Big Bang. It can start as a tiny point, expanding rapidly through a hot explosion. I rather NOT do this. It’s time to let go of things that do not work. Let me try harder in other more constructive ways. I close my eyes. I see a lush green summer stretch before me. I hear laughter. I see order rise out of chaos. I’ve put a STOP to the chatter in my head, a HALT to negativity. There’s PEACE in my thoughts, LOVING KINDNESS  in my heart.

 

 

MANY A TEAR HAS TO FALL

So I slept on the couch again last night. Easier to prop my head up on the arm rest and a pillow. I did get enough sleep though interrupted by a few coughing episodes. I have stopped using the Zenhale puffer. My cough is less severe, manageable. I did expect that the Zenhale would stop it altogether. Silly me! Nothing is simple and easy.  There are no instant cures.

Meanwhile, my blood pressure is up. It was 190/90 at the doctor’s office the other day. I blamed it to the stress of finding a parking spot and the anticipation of the examine. But it could very well be the inhaler, too. I will try to be patient, lessen my stressors and let time and nature take its course. It is the best healer.

The weather is rocky and stormy. It woke me last night. I heard the wind and saw the filtered street light through the venetians. Then I heard the raindrops on the deck roof. The song started in my head.

Many a tear has to fall
But it’s all, in the game
All in the wonderful game
That we know as love

You have words with him
And your future’s looking dim
But these things
Your heart can rise above
Once in a while he won’t call
But it’s all, in the game
Soon he’ll be there at your side
With a sweet bouquet
And he’ll kiss your lips
And caress your waiting finger tips
And your heart will fly away

Life feels like a game sometimes. I am an unwilling player at the table. I don’t know the rules. I don’t know the dialogue but I can read body language. So like all unwilling players, I am sitting it out, watching. Why won’t THEY  explain how the game is played? Why won’t they speak in a language I can understand? It would give everyone an even playing field.
Ah, but life is never fair. No one wants to reveal their upper hand. It makes me sad but I have no tears to shed. I am happy not to be in the game.