TOWARDS WINTER SOLSTICE

December 15th. Winter solstice is just a week away. I had good intentions of being here regularly but I’ve only shown up twice. Bad on me! Intentions don’t mean beans when they’re not kept. But I am here now. My moods still can turn on a dime. The difference now is I know the exact instant they do. I pull out my tools and do an inquiry. I’ve read enough of Byron Katie’s The Work. I know to ask the 4 questions:

  • Is it true?
  • Can you absolutely know that it is true?
  • How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
  • Who would you be without that thought?

Then there’s Tara Brach’s RAIN. It stands for:

  • Recognize what is happening.
  • Allow the experience to be there, just as it is.
  • Investigate with interest and care.
  • Nurture with self-compassion.

Recognition of the moment gives me an opportunity to pause and to take note. I don’t have to react and behave in old patterns. I can choose how it is that I want to behave, therefore changing the way I feel. I tell myself that because this is new, I might not feel comfortable or good immediately or even soon. It will take time to gel. I tell myself it is a new adventure, a new skill like learning how to cross country ski, ride a bike, to swim, to make sourdough….

Going toward the shortest day of the year is a grand adventure this year. I’m thinking of the darkness as a warm nest wherein we can rest and sleep. Then we can emerge on the other side, rejuvenated and ready to face the lengthening days as we progress towards spring and all that it promises.

THOSE DIFFICULT THINGS

The difficult things are so hard to do. I hem and haw, twiddle and twaddle, scroll here and there. I do everything except the things that I need to do. I scratch my head and wonder why that is. I think it is the way with most people – that is most people like myself whose first instinct is avoidance. I try hard not to get to the root of the problem. That would be another delaying tactic. Instead, I sit myself before my keyboard to start a conversation.

I have got a few difficult things out of the way. I am not a complete failure. I tolerated the discomfort of not wanting to do and did some paperwork, put it in an addressed and stamped envelope. It is now in a Canada Post box. My prescription medications are picked up but not put away. Sheba is fed. She is waiting for her walk. Other than that, there is nothing urgent. I can put away that uncomfortable ‘I should do’ feeling. I should hitch Sheba up and go for that walk. Fresh air would do us good though I’m not looking forward to walking in wet slushing snow.

It is evening now. The walk over and done with. Somehow things do get done. My tomato seedlings are all transplanted. A few chili peppers got seeded as well as a new variety of tomato called Sunshine Sauce. I had time for a 20 minute Epsom salt soak in the tub before supper. I’m pecking away on the keyboard, trying for a few precious thoughts. A few thoughts/things are better than none. My eyelids are heavy, my mood sober. Better close up shop till the morrow.


It is now a few morrows later. I am not really in the mood to finish this post but I will. I do not want to waste my already spent efforts. What I have learned is that spot between a hard place and a rock has some give. I just have to give up the thought and not be stuck in it. I’ve been repeating the phrase, If I don’t have that thought, how would I feel? over and over these last while. It’s something I’ve learned from Byron Katie. I ask myself that question when I’m distraught and in distress. Somehow it works. It disrupts my stuck despairing, distressing thoughts. A little calm seeps in and I’m okay again.

It is another morning. The sun is shining. I’m here tapping out a few more words. Sometimes the world Facebook gives me what is needed. This morning it is words from Anne Lamott on How We Endure and Find Meaning in a Crazy World.

“No matter what happens to us — to our children, to our town, to our world — we feel it is still a gift to be human and to have a human life, as long as we ignore the commercials how and advertisements and the static that the world beams at us, and understand that we and our children are going to get knocked around, sometimes so cruelly that it will take our breath away. Life can be wild, hard and sweet, but it can also be wild, hard and cruel.

The bad news is that after the suffering, we wait at the empty tomb for a while, the body of our beloved gone, grieving an unsurvivable loss.

It’s a terrible system. But the good news is that then there is new life. Wildflowers bloom again… They’re both such surprises. Wildflowers stop you in your hiking tracks. You want to savor the colors and scents, let them breathe you in, let yourself be amazed. And bulbs that grow in the cold rocky dirt remind us that no one is lost.”

METAMORPHOSIS

I’ve gotten up, dressed up and here I am with my cup of tea. My fingers are not cooperating. They’re a little stiff. I open and close my hands. Not too bad. They’ve been worse. But I can see that there will be no magic today. It will be hard work. It was like that yesterday with my desk. I had to work at it to sort and clear. It’s not perfect but I have some space with no dust.  My cleared dining table from yesterday is still clear. A miracle.

I will take what magic that comes my way. Yesterday I was contemplating about the mystery of my body and chemistry. This morning, A Year of Inquiry showed up on my Facebook page. Talk about synchronicity! It’s based on the works of Byron Katie. I’m a self help junkie. If I don’t help myself, who will? I don’t wait to be rescued. I like to learn and do my own research. The live and online workshops are a little pricey for me at $2,000 – $3,000. Eeek! No doubt they will be worth it as it is a year long. But I think making my own inquiry is more valuable. I’ve been listening to other people on how to be for too long.

These 4 questions from The Works are good starting points. I will see how it goes.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

It is intriguing to think about who I would/could be without all my possibly erroneous thoughts. I could be a whole new person. I could have a whole new life. Would I want that? What would it hurt. I have an inquiring mind. I am retired. It would give me a job. It would be a worthwhile effort. I can feel the excitement even through my sleepiness.

Yes, I still have it – sleepiness. I did get my 8 hours in. I’m still keen on fooling my body out of it. I did my ‘must do’ things in the morning. Now it is after lunch. The dishes are soaking. My eyes are drooping. I must get them out of the way. Soon it will be Sheba’s supper time and her walk. I’m glad we’ve had this time here. I’ll be back tomorrow. In the meantime, I will keep plugging away at my desk and other stuff. Maybe I will be rewarded with a bit of magic again.

THE GREAT SALINE SOLUTION

Summer is overrated. That’s what I think. Sometimes I feel mean spirited, like Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother. Am I, though? Is it true? Is it really true? That’s the question Byron Katie would ask. Am I mean spirited and wicked or am I just expressing how I am feeling about summer? Am I putting a monkey wrench into others’ summers? Then what about those people who hate winter?

Framed by those questions, I am not Lady Tremaine. I’m not out to spoil another’s summer. I am not feeling super duper cartwheeling happy at the moment. I am experiencing a pollen attack the last few days. My ribs are sore from coughing. My throat, constricted, itching and ready to cough my stomach contents out. My tongue feels burnt from sucking Fisherman’s Lozenges. What are they made of? I cannot blame myself for feeling miserable. I don’t lay my miseries on anyone but I’m guessing I’m not pleasant company.

I’m watching all those winged maple and poplar seeds flying through the air in great gusts. I haven’t seen such  big infestations as this year. They look like swarms of bees or other flying insects. They could be geese flying south but it’s the wrong time of the year. Nothing is the same anymore. Were they ever? I better tell myself to suck it up, buttercup. Better get use to it. The world has never been as it is now. It is truly amazing times we are living in. That is what Caroline Myss keeps saying. She is my guru.

Not to make myself a complete sour puss, I am feeling somewhat better. I started gargling with warm salty water since yesterday. My throat is not so tight. My cough can turn over now. The great saline solution! No wonder salt was such an important commodity in India back in the days when  Ghandi led their independence movement against the British. The saline solution is valuable today, too. As an intraveous solution, I see that it’s cheap to make. According to a 1993 source it fluctuates between 44 cents to a $1. But to buy is another thing. $85 for 500 mls. and $42.00 for a liter. Nothing about medical supplies costs makes sense.

That, as they say, is par for the course. Nothing much is making sense to me now. I’ll have to wait till my head clears. Maybe by then my throat would have lost its grip. I can talk then instead of croak. I better get some rest. My sleep has been interrupted by intermittent coughing fits in the night. Grrrr!

IN MY LIFE

I’m in my apres- lunch malaise. It is after 3 pm. No time to tarry as they say. I’m in this space, tapping the keyboard, talking with my fingers, singing my songs. I hear Killing Me Softly with His Song in my head. I’ll try not to use killing words. I’m not about pain and despair. I hate suffering. I rather walk on the sunny side of the street. And you know what? I missed the solar eclipse today. I was in total sunshine. There was not not even a hint of a shadow. That’s new for me. Sometimes all I feel are clouds.

I’m trying to know myself in my life – to detach myself and really observe my place in the world and in my life. It is difficult to take out the personal feelings, all the me, myself and I, and look at myself as somebody else. Who am I? How am I? What are my values? How do I behave. How do I treat other people? Am I as honourable, fair, loving as I thought of myself? It’s a hard exercise to do. I think it’s well worth the effort. It would test my true grit.

Byron Katie’s The Work  has been a great resource for me. I ask myself these four questions about any given situation:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

Learning to be has been a very slow process. Life surely is a journey and not a destination. When you get there, you find that there is no there. What I can say is that I am becoming a more content person with less anger, turmoil and depression. I hesitate to use the word happy because what is happy? What I know for sure is I love learning and changing. I love pursuing excellence.

 

DOING THE WORK

It is the afternoon slump period. I’m trying to push through it with my tap, tapping at the keyboard. One load of laundry done this morning and drying outside. Another load is in the washer. Lunch is consumed and dishes done. It’s really not so hard. It’s establishing new routines and habits. I want to push through my lethargy and procrastination, adding one more thing each day so that doing becomes easeful.

I’m feeling that unease already, wanting to stop and get a cup of tea. It’s a delaying/procrastinating tactic and it works every time. At least I recognize it for what it is. Be back in a few minutes. Getting up will be good as I am feeling stuck and sleepy.

I am back. I do come back and trying again. While I was gone, I’ve brought in some of the laundry and have made my tea. I see myself doing these things. I see my thoughts as I move from here to there and back. I am learning to observe myself and my feelings as objectively as I can. Why do I feel __ , Why did I do __, Why can’t I ____,I ask myself these questions. I don’t like some of the answers. I ask anyways. Perhaps I’m finally doing The Work Of Byron Katie.  I’ve been gathering self-help information for decades. At last I’m doing the work.

Standing back away from myself, being an objective observer and asking the questions may be the way to being a better person. That is my goal – pursuing excellence in being.  I will put up with my discomforts and to come to this space. I’m finding the quiet and listening here encouraging. It creates a stillness in me and I hear the whispers of wisdom in the air. I could not hear them before. There was too much noise and unrest in my head. I am OK. I do not have to minimize myself, apologize or hide in the dark. I am big enough to stand in my own right/light.

FILLUPS AND TURNAROUNDS – Day 66 and 67 in a year of….

Day 66 and 67, September 27, 2016 @8:48 am

I’m attempting to do the great turnaround this morning – doing the ‘work’ of Byron Katie.  I’m asking questions, seeking their validity and seeing if there is another way of seeing.  I am not happy in this moment of seeing the world half empty.  It is the morning after the great debate of last night between Hiliary Clinton and Donald Trump.  The world I held my breath, waiting to hear how the Donald will speak.  I am sad to see a world where such a person can become a presidential candidate.

img_7781I’m coming to this space a little earlier, to change and shake off this feeling. The world hasn’t changed that much overnight.  It is the way I’m seeing/feeling.  One affects the other. One invokes different visions of the glass half full or empty. Can I do a switch around?  And which one is true?  I’m having a problem with truths.  I tend to be black and white, literal and no gives.  But I see the literal/absolute way brings me no happiness.  I’m swaying, changing like the autumn leaves.  I’m dropping/letting go the things that don’t serve me.  They’re dropping slowly like teardrops.  Afterall, change does hurt.  It’s not a shame to cry.

Have you cried today?  Is your world half empty or full?  I am going to fill up now.

INQUIRY – Day 17 in a year of……

Day 17, August 8, 2016 @4:17

IMG_7017The rain is making me sleepy and all I want to do is nap, nap, nap.  Motivation is low. Routine and habit brought me back to this space.  I have to sit and sip my tea before words and ideas can form.  Maybe a snack will help, too.  When all else fails, snack!  I have to tell you my bean casserole turned out okay.  But oven time was over 1 1/2 hours instead of 25 minutes. Next time, if I’m using fresh beans from the garden, I will parboil them first.

I have been listening to Byron Katie the last two days. I am familiar with her work but I always come away with learning something new each time.  You always hear and see with new ears and eyes each time.  Never dismiss or roll your eyes when someone is repeating his/her story.  There’s always nuances, important ones that might change your life.

DWCN2274I love the 4 questions that she asks.

  1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

The work may be difficult to grasp, but now I do see it is a beautiful process.  My perceptions have shifted, my mind expanding and my heart opening a little more.  Are the thoughts in my head real?  What is reality – the past, the future, or only now?  Lots to ponder.  If you are interested, you can visit her link here.

TELL ANOTHER STORY

I take my first sip of tea.  Sheba barks at a passerby.  It’s Monday.  It’s a cool 3 degrees Celsius sunlit morning.  Gold and orange leaves drift down my elm trees and roll across the sidewalk.  I think of the song The Autumn Leaves.  I am feeling mellow and relaxed, none of yesterday’s angst.

I have to ask myself of yesterday, Was that true?  Or did I let myself get roller coasted by the false feeling of the moment?  I have to be more conscious and question myself the next time it happens.  In the throes of my angst, I feel such self-loathing, mean spirited and anger.  Is that who I am.  What if it isn’t true?

This morning I consciously choose to turn it around.  It isn’t true.  What would I be without those thoughts about myself?  I am not that person. That is when the sun came out and opened the door to my heart.  I feel such relief.  Thanks be to Byron Katie and her teachings!

alice-little-doorI can tell another story for I am THE writer of my life.  I have the control of the keyboard and the words.  The page is clean, ready for me.  What WILL Alice do today?  Will she swim out of her puddle of tears?  Will she follow the white rabbit or will she choose a path of her own?  Will she continue to shrink and grow, shrink and grow haphazardly?  Or will she put her foot down and say NO MORE ?  I will be am who I am.  I am Alice of the normal size.

Can you tell I have a fascination with Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll?  How can I not be? The charming nonsensical story brings a smile to my face.  Just imagine yourself in a doll house, with one leg up the chimney and an arm out the window.  Picture a gathering of animals outside underneath the window.  The are trying to mount a ladder against the wall to reach the arm and yank Alice out of the house.  See what I mean?  Are your lips quivering with mirth?

Life need not be so serious and high voltage all the time.  You can easily burn yourself up rah, rah-ing.  Just watch this video.

Tight dresses and stiletto heels can be hazardous to your health.  You can trip and fall.  I hate even imagining the how of the fall and where those earrings would catch.  Not that I am knocking Lisa Nichols.  Life coaches and motivational speakers have important roles. Sometimes we need a rah or two to push us off our butts.  I admire people like her and Tony Robbins.  They have such electric personalities.  They can get you moving, but will you be able to sustain it after the show is over?

I go for the slow motion of tumbling down Alice’s rabbit hole.  It’s a needed rest from my seriousness.  What is slow and fast can be deceiving.  Sometimes I am faster than I think. I have a friend who signs off with “Don’t move faster than your Guardian Angel can fly” after every email.  It’s good advice.

I like to say in the words of Gracie Heavy Hand from the Dead Dog Cafe :

“Stay calm.  Be brave.  Watch for the sign.”

 

 

 

 

IS IT TRUE?

Photo on 2014-07-21 at 2.29 PMYesterday, I discovered exercise was the best medicine for my nervous jumping heart.  I was grateful for the loud music next door that pushed me onto my bike.  It was nice my SO (Significant Other) accompanied me.  We headed off to the library.

I kept my nervousness to myself.  No point voicing it, giving it strength.  I inhaled and exhaled.  I pedalled, pumping my legs up and down.  I saw them as pistons firing smoothly, moving the blood through my heart chambers, then out to the rest of my body.  I was safe.

We are at the library.  I find 2 books by my favourite kick-ass author, Janet Evanovich, Notorious Nineteen and Smokin’ Seventeen.  The titles alone give off more energy than spinach.  Look out, Popeye!  Wait, I’m not done yet.  Here is Olivia Chow’s memoir, My Journey waiting for me.  I hope she will win the mayorship of Toronto.  That Rob Ford need to be ousted.  You must know who he is.  He has been talked about on all the late shows in the U.S.A. – Kimmel, Letterman, Jon Stewart….

I found Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement in the next aisle.  I discovered her through the movie, The Joy Luck Club.  Reading her memoir, The Opposite of Fate, was like finding myself.  I recognized myself in her, my mother in her mother Daisy.  The lives of Chinese immigrants in America had the same familiar ringtone – even Olivia Chow’s.  I felt that Amy and Olivia were like my sisters.

I found one more book I could not resist – Byron Katie’s I Need Your Love – Is That True? I know, I know.  I wasn’t going to read any more self-help books for awhile but who could resist a topic like love.  And she asked a good question, Is it true?

photo curtesy of Rod McLaren
photo curtesy of Rod McLaren

Now I am done.  We load my treasures in my SO’s cargo bike and head for home.  I am relaxed, breathing in and out, pedalling easy and steady, not rushing, not worrying, not anxious.  My heart is in its place.  It’s pumping rhythmically in even strokes.  It’s singing that everything is fine.  And it is true.