THE GRACE OF ENDURANCE

Difficult times can bring out the best in people but in cases like myself, it brings out the worse. I’m full of anger and resentment. I would like to be in a demolition derby. I would like to crash and destroy anything and everything that comes into my path. I thought it would be best it I release that energy here. My vehicle is the keyboard, my weapons only words.

According to my muse, Caroline Myss, words are powerful. I shall pay heed and not search and destroy. I shall try not to burn all the bridges behind me. This is my crossing the Rubicon moment. I breathe, raise my sword and tap, tap, tap on the keyboard. “Alea iacta est”! The die is cast. What is said cannot be unsaid. What is done cannot be undone. What has lived cannot be unlived. But regrets and disappointments I have many. My soul cries in agony over them.

But what is suffering without a voice? Whoever made that rule that we must do it in silence? And how do we know we will be rewarded in heaven for doing so? Who will know and give us comfort if we don’t show and tell? The world is amuck, wouldn’t you agree. We are all in lockdown. We did it to ourselves. We are behaving like the animals that we are – panicing and hoarding toilet paper over the coronavirus pandemic. Then we need politicians to warn us not to take advantage of vulnerable and senior citizens in these times. Then there’s the opposite side where people are not taking the coronavirus thing seriously. They are still gathering in large groups. I guess they haven’t heard of what happened in Wuhan, Italy or Spain. How do we really know it’s for real? Maybe it’s just a movie on TV. Maybe we’re all on Netflix in the movie Contagion.

I think I’m suffering what is called depression. I’m sounding like Alex Trebek on Jeopardy.  No,I’m not depressed. I’m really just stressed and mad as hell. I’m venting my anger in a place where it will cause the least damage. And I’m as sad as can be. The tears are dammed behind my throat. I’m letting things hang out now. I’m not trying to be positive. I’m not sugar coating myself. I am not myself. I cannot pretend to be Wonder Woman anymore with her golden lasso. I cannot fix anything.

Do not worry over the state of my mental health. I am venting, releasing steam. I do not want to blow a gasket. This is my safety valve. I know we are now all in this space together. This is just the beginning and not the end. I am not in fear or distress over the COVID -19 pandemic at this moment. Rather I am in my own private fear and anxiety over my mother’s ordeal with shingles – her pain, vision and enduring the side effects of her medications. It is as if we are still connected by the umbilical cord. I feel all her sufferings.

Things started innocent enough on Feb. 8th. You get the diagnosis. You get the treatment. But it is not that simple. One thing leads to another. Pain persists through out relieved somewhat by meds. Now it is March 26th and eye complication.  Another week of her antivirals 3times/day to endure before she can cut down to smaller dose once/day for another month. The good news is she has recovered most of her vision in her eye.

I’m calling out for prayers to help her endure and tolerate another week of her medications. I’m asking for prayers for myself to be strong and endure to help her through this. Maybe after this, I can afford to panic over the pandemic. Praying for all of us. May we be safe. May we be strong. May we have compassion and love for each other.

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

And the winds continue to blow. I feel its howl in my bones. I’m caught back in the space of restless anxiety. Have you ever been there? It’s not a restful place. I’m here tapping on my keyboard on this 25th day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I hope the rhymthic tapping can soothe and smooth me. If nothing else, I will have a blog post. I am a little displeased with myself for having fallen into this nervous trap – again. I feel like Alice plunging down the rabbit hole. But it is really not my fault. It is my brain and nervous system. I am built this way. I can’t help it.

I breathe and think loving kindness towards myself. May I be safe. May I be calm. May I be peaceful. May I be loved. I imagine the wind whispering all these to me. I picture a kind smile on its face. I feel the wind wrapping me in its warm embrace. I am stroked and loved. I am safe. I can let go of the tightness in my limbs. I can let go of my breath. I will not fall. I feel the sun coming out to smile down on me.

All is well. The world is as it should be. There is nothing I can/need to change except what is within me. When I change, everything changes also. I am that pebble thrown in the ocean. Gee, I have more power than I realize. What a Eureka moment! I am not immobilized by my fear. I am moving my fingers across the keyboard. The fear is a catalyst for opening my senses to new ways of seeing, feeling and thinking. I will survive this after all. Hallelujah, Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

So now it is evening. I have survived another day. And none the worse for wear, I might add. I got lost again, led astray by Mrs. Google Maps. Lost is my usual state of being. I drove around and around. I was a  little frazzled and late for my appointment. People are kind. Women are not good with directions. I am not good with directions. Nobody was mad. We all had a chuckle. Life is mellow again.

 

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.

 

 

IT’S NOT MY FAULT

I don’t know where I am going or how to get there. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve gone to hell in a handbasket. So where is God? Life is hard and I’m suffering. Why isn’t he here when I most need him. I haven’t asked very often. And please don’t lecture me about him carrying me when there’s only one set of footprints. Okay, I’m going to calm down and be a little more positive. I’ve shown up, haven’t I? I’m sitting here doing my tap dance.

I’m doing the best I can, trying to find the words, the solutions. Breathing in and out, getting into the relaxation mode. Yesterday I found my way back to the Mindfulness Summit and the episode on the importance of self compassion with Paul Gilbert. It’s a very worthwhile episode for someone like myself. I tend to ruminate a lot and beat myself up regularly. What I learned is that we are all built like that. It’s our nature given to us. It’s not our choosing. It’s the brain we were given. It’s NOT our fault.

I love that it’s not my fault, the way I am. It’s my tricky brain. So what can I do about it? Professor Gilbert is a good teacher, offering explanations and solutions. Sometimes I feel like screaming and jumping out of my skin. It’s most helpful in those times to remember that there’s ways to use the mind to calm the body (meditation) and ways to use the body to calm the mind (exercise). So thank you, Professor Gilbert. May I feel safe and loved. May I be happy.

BE MY VALENTINE

IMG_4300Happy Valentines Day!  There’s nothing like the feeling of falling head over heels in love the very first time – with myself.  It comes quietly in the early morning darkness over my cup of tea.  It is my favourite time of day in this month of the heart.  I sit with my tea, Sharon Salzberg and all my sisters on Instagram, feeling the love and connection. What better day to practice compassion and nourishment than on this day and month of the heart.  It all starts with the self.

The title of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic pops into my head.  Why am I always looking out to others for answers?  I breathed and looked within.  Why can’t I be my own magic?  I went further within to where I had been, feeling and experiencing it all.  It’s as if my whole life flashed before my eyes.  I was/am always going out of myself, being there for everyone, assuming all faults and responsibility. I saw my want to fix everything for everyone, wanting to take on the suffering even if it’s not my own.  I was never home for myself.

IMG_4302My Big Magic came this morning slowly and quietly with the breath and sip of tea.  It is in the knowing and accepting that I am not perfect nor all that powerful. Not everything is my fault.  I can’t fix everything.  I don’t need to fix myself.  I just have to be my own valentine.

 

A YEAR TO: LEARN

smokingLoving oneself is perhaps the hardest thing to do/learn.  It’s taken me these many unconscious eons and this one conscious year to see how abusive I’ve been to myself. Now I can see clearly how I/all of us can fall into that vicious pattern.  Like it or not we are not unique unto ourselves.  We are wired the same.

Until we are awakened to that moment, we/I will keep falling into the same hole that Portia Nelson speaks of in her poem, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk.

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

I can’t really tell you how many times I have fallen into the same hole.  I am unaware of how bruised or battered I became till that aha moment when someone switched on the light.  It seems so easy now that I am on the other side of the street.  It is not so when I was in the quagmire with no firm foothold.

IMG_2371Learning comes slowly for me.  I’ve been stuck in the same place for the last year. Sometimes you have to hit me with a 2×4.  Falling into the same deep hole also works! The lesson is lasting.  I realize that I am not in control of or responsible for everything.  I am not that powerful. Not everything is my fault.  No doubt, I will forget again from time to time. It’s only human nature. But I will not hurt myself more in those times with self-blame. Loving kindness starts with oneself.

DOG WITH A BONE

Sometimes I am like Sheba with a bone.  I hang onto to my ‘bad’ feelings with all my might, not letting go.  That is my perception.  That is how I feel inside.  When you live alone, life is much easier in a sense.  You don’t have to worry about these feelings bubbling through.  You are alone.  You have no witnesses and dogs can’t tattle on you.

There is always two sides to everything.  On the flip side, it is nice to have someone around to make you a cup of tea, to give you a hug, to do all those things you are not capable of in those moments.  He does not have to agree with you on everything or anything.  But acceptance and acknowledgement of  your feelings are necessary.  It is called respect.

I have the misfortune of being surrounded by ‘difficult’ neighbours in the last few years.  I do not feel that I have done anything to attract these people.  I think it is my lot in life to help these unfortunate people.  I am not happy about it , but it is where I am.  I might as well recognize and acknowledge it, unwilling as I am for the role.

It is winter again and we have had a couple of heavy snowfalls.  And my neighbour is happily shoveling ALL the snow off her driveway onto my yard, even after all the times I’ve asked her not to.  The first year she moved in, she was throwing the snow over the fence into my back yard.  What kind of person does that kind of thing?  This year she is saying that she is doing me a favour by watering my grass with her snow!  My grass is crappy, she says.  But I don’t want all the extra snow besides my own in my yard.  The spring melt causes moisture to seep through my foundation and I’ve had to replace rotten floor boards in my basement.

But how do you talk to a person like my neighbour, who insists that the snow will be gone in two days and she is doing me a favour?  It reminds me of times when one of my managers phoned to deny my request for vacation.  After she denies me, she proceeded to tell me that I have so much vacation time and that I need to use some.  But, but…..! And yet I had to take the vacations which I am denied.  Huh?

In the end, I yelled at my neighbour.  I called her a f’ing b___.  That was what she was…a user, putting on the ritz,  the wiggle and the tears when she wants something from you.   I told her that we will no longer be taking out her garbage and bringing it back when she is away.  She can no longer come to borrow things.  I reminded her that I’ve watched her house when she was away.  I had overlooked her past bad behaviour and had embraced her with loving kindness.  And she showed no respect for me.

Helping people does not mean you have to let them bully you.  That has been my mistake.  I do feel people’s pain and that is not always a good thing.  That is another one of my mistakes.  I have allowed people to make me feel that unless I do this or that, then I am not a good person, a kind person, a generous person…And who can do all those things without anger building, simmering and finally exploding?  So perhaps these neighbours are put here to help me recognize that I’ve been a doormat for people to clean their dirty shoes on.  Well, they better get their own doormats from now on.

So I’ve written to the City of Saskatoon to inquire what the bylaws are for snow removal and my rights.  I have attached photos of my neighbour’s driveway and her lawn and my lawn.  I have not asked them to do anything about the situation, just wanting to know my rights for the time being.  I am open and willing to accept positive changes without coercion.  I am willing still to extend loving kindness to this neighbour.  I am willing to let go and forgive.

But I will not be a doormat.