So far, so good. I’m still here. It is only day 3 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge after all. I’ll try to keep it short and simple. There’s more likelihood of keeping the reader here. There’s more chances of me showing up again and again. I was exhausted trying to navigate on this new page yesterday. I like to play by the rules. I like reading the 2 postings above mine. I like the randomness, the chance of meeting a new blogger, different type of writing. I also like to revisit old friends and those who visit me. It’s a fine balance of finding time and energy to do all that.
It’s a fine exercise – assessing my energy levels and my priorities. I’m always pulled every which way. I’ve never given much time in thinking through. I let guilt and sense of obligation dictate what I do. I’m just awakening to the sense of ‘me’ now. What am I all about? I’m taking time to stand back, to be that fly on the wall, to try to see myself in action objectively. Have you done the exercise?
I’m seeing my slate wiped clean today, all my obligations fulfilled. This is another first day of the rest of my life. It is a beautiful though cloudy October day. No frost overnight. There’s still strawberries coming, though ripening ever so slow. My raised beds of greens are still thriving. And our greenhouse is half finished. It is not as big as we had wanted. But small is better. I harvested 2 ice cream pails of Concord grapes yesterday. Guess what I’ll be doing today? I’ve found an excellent site for dealing with them. Hopefully I’ll have some pies, sorbet or jam soon.
It’s the morning after my 9 day online spiritual retreat with Caroline Myss. As with most morning afters, I’m feeling like Peggy Lee singing, Is That All There Is? My problem is I have this lazy bone. I like the learning . I wish it could go on forever. I love soaking up all the knowledge. Living it is another matter. I have this feeling of avoidance, dread, putting up roadblocks. I think I hate change and creating the domino effect. Make one wrong move and the whole thing comes undone. I hate uncertainty and taking chances. I love safety even though it’s stifling at times.
Learning, researching, gathering information, whatever I choose to call it, gives legitimacy to procrastination. It reduces my guilt of none doing. I wonder why I feel I have this guilt. Why must I be doing something ‘useful’ or ‘creative’ all the time? Why is enjoying idleness such a sin? That’s something to think about. But I’ve cleared out all my busyness during this 9 day period. I’m taking time resting in the in between notes, letting the information and ideas sit and percolate. More wisdom may arise. I’m more apt to hear it when it comes if I’m quiet within.
I am enjoying the idleness today. There is that feeling of ‘I should have’ in the back of my mind. I should have but I’m too tired. I should have but there’s a feeling that I don’t want to go there. I should have but I dread doing that. I’m learning to live with and accepting these feelings. Sometimes they are not real. They do no harm. I can sit with them. I can stand the rest as well as the guilt.
The jukebox is playing in my head again. It’s been playing Burton Cumming’s Stand Tall all day. I wonder if it’s a message for me. Hmmm.
I‘m trying. I have been standing tall all my life and alone. Well, since I could stand on my own. So when would that be – a year old? It’s a long time anyways. There’s this story that all the old aunties used to tell me when I was growing up in China. The story was that my father had thrown me out onto the steps in a fit of temper when I was 2 years. That was shortly before he left for Canada. It was 6 years before my mother and I were reunited with him in Hong Kong.
Sometimes I wonder if I felt any sense of abandonment hearing this story. Did it have a big impact my life or the development of my character? The old aunties and my own paternal grandmother had remarked on my ‘bad’ temperament over the years. They said no man would have me because of that and the scar on my arm. I certainly have felt and suffered my guilt for lack of ‘good qualities’ most of my life. I attributed that to being female. Now I wonder about those stories.
I am tired of all those feelings wherever they came from. I’m grown up now. I provide for myself. I’ve held down a responsible job for many years. I pay taxes and my own bills. I demand nothing from anyone. I’ve taken full responsibility for my life. That’s all I’m responsible for. There’s no need for me to keep those feelings. I can stand tall and let them all fall.
One day post Canada Day is a good time to declare my own independence, my autonomy from those stories told by old aunties and my self inflicted suffering. It’s time to tell myself new stories.
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.
It’s 2:55 pm and I’ve just sat down. 5 minutes before Sheba’s supper hour, 5 minutes to have a bit of fun with disciplining and waiting. She does a sit and down beautifully. I give her praise and talk. She’s bobs up like a Jack-in-the box. I thought it best if we just do and down and stay with no talk. We did a companiable look into each other’s eyes until the eating hour. Then it’s tossing and squeaking that damn chicken with her before I can have some peace and tapping time.
Life is full, complex and perplexing. I look forward to my Saturday morning swim all week. When the time came, I was torn wanting to stay at home with my tea and book instead of heading out in almost complete darkness. Getting into the water is not very appealing on a dark winter’s morning. Neither choice is bad. I made up my mind that I was not going to feel guilty whichever one I decided on. I was not going to suffer the guilt. Because what would be the point of that?
Being that I swim only once a week on Saturdays and that it was the best possible time decided for me. I stopped thinking, packed my bag and went out the door. Everything is easier when you stop going back and forth. It doesn’t matter which choice. Just choose one and enjoy. Many times this past week, I’ve caught myself agonizing over small decisions. Then I fret the guilts following such decisions. When the truth is It Really Doesn’t Matter. The world is not going to collapse because I did/said one thing instead of another. The only one to suffer would be me.
I’ve suffered through many such moments of stupidity. They have spoiled good times. They have distracted me to no ends with useless intruding thoughts and guilt. Oh, why did I say that? Why did I do that? I shouldn’t have. I could’ve. The litany of self admonishment ran endlessly through my head. They would have rendered me deaf and sightless to whatever was going around me. In other words, I would be lost to the world.
I console myself for having recognized my behaviour. Now I can try to change some of that. It won’t be easy, I know, but now that the light bulb is lit, I can’t hide in the dark. I wouldn’t want to. I can slowly inch towards the light. No one need to know that I trash myself over and over. I don’t need to announce my shortcomings. There’s no need to toot my horn either. I will not gnash my teeth at my failures or gloat over successes.
The day is coming to an end. I need to give it a rest. Some days are better than others. Some words are better than others. Tomorrow is another day.
I believe that when we are hit with an ‘aha’ moment we should give it due respect and pay attention.
The other day my mother phoned. Could I make a doctor’s appointment for her. My father had tried a couple of times but got a recording that says that you have to do it online. I found it peculiar since not everyone, especially seniors have computers or have the know hows. I phoned and the recording does say you have the option of making appointments online but if you press 0 or just hang on, you can speak to the receptionist.
I felt a bubble of irritation starting up at my father. How could he not understand that since he got the online part? In the same moment, I saw the flashing STOP sign in my head, telling me that this is how my father has been for many, many years. Though he came to Canada as a young man in his early 20’s, he does not know the English language well at all. He had made no provision for my mother to learn.
Sometimes I think he knows more than he lets on. But he rather have somebody else do all these things so he doesn’t. I have been the interpreter, making and taking them to appointments since I was about 9 years old. It has made me feel responsible for their health, happiness and total being. No one can be responsible for somebody else’s all. I have felt guilt and anger.
What are the chances that he would change now at 83? None. So why waste my energy getting angry and then feel like a very bad person/daughter? I squashed that ugly bubble and made the appointment. I told my mother how they can get through to the receptionist the next time. I’m feeling grateful that he is still able to drive and be independent otherwise. I am grateful that there are Chinese physicians here so that they can see their doctor on their own most of the time. I am grateful that I can help my parents to be as independent as they are able to.
I am fortunate that I finally recognize that there are the things I can’t change. I can now stop fretting, stressing, fuming, insisting that yes, things can change. Some things cannot. I can stop getting, being and staying in anger. Having seen the light/stop sign, I can ease up, let go a bit and move on. There will be, of course, days when I will fall back on old ways. I will get righteous and indignant, insisting that other person change and behave the way I want. I hope those occasions will come less and less. Let there be patience and love.
I came upon a website called 30days30dares.com the other day. I thought I would like to do a dare a day, but maybe not for 30 days. The dare issued out by Fakeku Fatumise appealed to me. He dared me to breathe into my bigness and bring it out into the world.
Well, I am Chinese, the first born and a born again Catholic. That should say something to you. I am forever immersed in guilt and duty, and of course, perfection. Even though I try my best not to fall into their clutches, down I would fall again and again. I have no bigness and my heart feels small and tight. And my mind chatters ceaselessly into my ear – about how lacking I am, how small I am.
And so I sit and close my eyes. I relax my shoulders. I take a deep breath in and breathe slowly out through this small opening in my chest. I feel the opening widening, my chest expanding. I’m rising out and above myself. I see myself as this small human being who never thought of herself as being an individual with her own breath. How could that be, a person with no breath of her own?
Well, she never lived for herself. She was unconscious. She was bound by duty and guilt. Long ago in one conscious moment, she was aware that she would rather be unhappy herself than make another so. But somehow we have this innate sense of survival and she could not quite forfeit that right. It was a good thing, she was told by an expert. Since then, she’s daring to breathe, but sometimes she forgets and falls down, down, down the winding staircase of life.
But I can pick myself up, dust myself off. I try not to beat myself up too much. I try not to obsess too much. I breathe. My heart is getting bigger and I see it is towards myself that I am being small. I am unkind and ungenerous towards the one that really matters to me. Without a me, I cannot do for others.
I DARE me to breathe into my bigness and treat myself with loving kindness. The rest will follow.