January 4th, Day 4 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, Day 3 of the Positivity Challenge. It has been a challenging day. My positivity assignment was a date watching the sunrise or sunset. No phones. No devices. Just me and mother nature. The sunrise was rather bland as no sun came up. All I saw was the grey of the sky lightened by the white of snow everywhere. I thought I could kill 2 birds with one stone shovelling snow while watching. I was out in nature. Would you call a shovel a device?
The questions from the Unravelling My Year are:
What was the best day in 2021? What happened?
What was the most difficult day in 2021? What happened?
The questions are hard to answer. My 2021 was peaceful and tranquil. That is my thought at this moment. Of course I’m sitting here with a glass of red wine. What I know for sure is there were difficult moments but after they have passed, the difficult part is forgotten. What else I know for sure is I have grown stronger and more resilient with the years. I am a fighter. I do not dwell in darkness. I always fight my way into the light. I have always love winter, the cold and the snow. I love the darkness, too. It is a part of me. Sometimes the worse of times is my best of times. It drives me to create.
The Worse of Times
Doubt often creeps in On fatigue’s uncertain feet, Filling me with fear. And I would have to reach Deep into Faith’s pocket for trust, And remember that often, My worst of times are The best of times.
Unbound joy, a girl and her dog, Walking and running on the river, Each lost in thought and dream, Content, just being with the Universe.
Frozen expanse under blue skies, My footprints in the snow. Overhead a plane soars On its way to Elsewhere. I hear God’s voice calming me, Shhhhhhhh! All is bright, all will be right, In God’s land we abide.
Jumping for joy on the river of life, Naked in our happiness, baring our souls. Leaping and laughing, free spirits in the wind.
What I know for sure is life feel strange and eery these days. Our spring feels cold and wintry one day and hot and summery the next. The nights are still in minus temperatures. We are in the third wave of Covid-19 and variants. The news is not good across our country. In India people are dying in the streets. It’s hard not to feel disheartened, depressed and anxious. I’ve come to accept that I feel things deeply. I’ve become familiar with how my body reacts and have learned how to sit with it all. After all, I’ve been sitting in meditation, listening to the soothing voice of Mark Williams for many years now.
What I know for sure is I can’t do everything. I shouldn’t try but I do sometimes. And I end up being overtired and overwhelmed. Then I get forgetful. I forgot my online class Monday morning. And I forgot to pay a bill. I expect I will be penalized for late payment. What I know for sure is shit happens. I try not to sweat the small stuff. I get up. I move around. I try to do something constructive to break up sweaty thoughts and feelings. These strategies does help to break up bad thoughts and vibes. I try to learn and not repeat my mistakes.
What I know for sure is I’m hard on myself. I’m learning to give myself a break and not overloading what I can handle. It’s okay not to fulfill everything I set out to do at any given time. I have to prioritize and do the important stuff first and not fret over small items. What I know for sure is life is hard. It always has been. We are now on the road less travelled. Are you up for it?
Day 29 of January and the Ultimate Blog Challenge. My cold is not better but it is not worse. I am a bit pissed that I’ve come down with it. I was pleased with myself that I’ve come through a year and a half without one. I was hoping for a 2 year run. I am ever a challenger.
I am staying put again.I’m dropping everything today – the exercise class, my class on Buddhism. No need for me to catch every train pulling out of the station. A part of me is protesting that I shouldn’t be so lazy but it’s only a wee part. The rebel in me says heck with it all. So I’m sitting here, still in my pajamas, tapping out my coughs and sniffles. Oh yes, I stuck my toque on, too. It calms my hair down. I’m looking very much like the tulips, disheveled and falling apart.
I’ve been knocking back my tea. A hot drink is good for soothing the throat and loosening congestion. I’m onto a decaf now. I used to drink coffee all day and night, too when I was working. Having given that up, my body does not like it now, even early in the day. I’m happy with its wisdom. I don’t need to feel the jolt any more. I am jittery enough already and want more mellow. I know the Buddha advocates living in present time. Don’t hang on to the past. There is no past, but I’ve been sifting through memories in old photographs.
Cruising memory lane is not living in the past. I’m doing my archeological dig, the history of me. We study history, don’t we? They still make movies about WWII and the haulocaust. We have museums of art and antifacts. We are the sum total of where and what we have been and through. I used to feel I have no present, therefore, no future. Looking back, I see that I am a person. I had a past and a life. I had people. I did things. My pictures stare back at me. I look like a person of interest. And I am.
Not that I relish having this cold, but I appreciate this interruption. I can sit back/out of my daily routine. It gives me pause to look back down the track of where I have driven my train this month. What have I learned from my tapping on the keyboard? Was I woodpecker in my previous life? What I know for sure is, it is my spiritual practice, my daily prayer. I feel better for being here.
I should listen to my own advice about starting. It’s not that I don’t want to. Sometimes I have to go through the period of being stalled, being hung in limbo, midair, not wanting to commit. Call it what you will. Maybe it’s my ritual of some sort. It’s good to have rest periods. I do feel an obligation not to waste time, to fill every moment of useful doings.
I’ve been caught in the limbo of not doing for days now. Every evening I catch myself saying, I will start in the morning. In the morning I find it is so much easier to sink into tomorrow is another day. It’s not that I’ve been a couch potato. On the contrary I’ve been on the ‘busy routine’ of living every day, doing the famous ‘busy stuff’ that everyone does.
It’s not that I have so many important things to do or to contribute. It’s that I’ve been stuck in the cul-de-sac of lassitude, of not caring, of not having meaning, of not being important, of not being present. Perhaps it is called feeling sorry for myself or being in a depressive mood. My favourite excuse is that summer is not my favourite season. It brings out not so good memories of growing up in small town Saskatchewan. Everyone in town goes away to the lake or wherever on holidays, except the Chinese people who has the cafe. Oh, I remember those hot summer days of watching flies drone against the window screen and looking out at the empty dusty streets.
It’s strange how memories live in the very marrow of me. They are hidden deep inside and seep out on hot summer days. No need to worry about me. It’s just the way I talk/write. It’s healthy to be curious and investigate my feelings. It’s good to lay them down on the page in black and white. These ebb and flow of feelings are part of being alive. Feelings come and go like the tide. It’s like breathing in and out. Some are good and some not so. I’m still learning to accept them all, to sit with them as I must.
I’ve been reading Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You. I’m learning about Bodhichitta, being a warrior and staying in those scary places. It’s helping me to finally relax into life and not take things so seriously. Life is serious but things are not. I’m seeing the light now. Times when I don’t will come again. I have the words now. They could go away tomorrow. It’s all a cyle, the yin and the yan. That’s what I know for sure.
The month and the Ultimate Blog Challenge are almost over. What is it that I have accomplished? And was it what I set out to do? The answer is I don’t know to both. Well, there goes my quest for clarity. My head is as muddled now as is in the beginning. At the same time, I don’t feel a sense of failure. I am living real life one day at a time. Some days are good. Some are not. Some days are a mixture. What I know for sure is everything passes.
This morning I was reading Dr. Larry Dossey’s The Extra-Ordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things. I really enjoyed the section on plants and bugs and how they contribute to our well being. It made me realize how out of touch I am with the natural world. How often do I look up at the sky and really see it? Have I ever hug a tree or even sat under one? Do I pay attention to the creatures that crawl about and fly above? They are mostly in the peripheral of my awareness. I am too much concern with me, myself and I.
Perhaps I should widen my scope and pay attention to the natural world. I felt myself opening and softening up inside as I read the stories of flowers blooming out of season and maggots and leeches healing wounds. I want to be in midst of the green and crawling living things. I want to hold hands and have conversations with them again. I did that once upon a time. Once upon a time I also played on the rooftop of my grandfather’s house in China. I played and talked to ghosts, too. It’s not too late. I can still have all those conversations. All I have to do is open up my mind and heart again.
It is January 31, the last day of the month at last and my last post for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m going to give it my all but not die trying. Nothing is worth dying for except maybe my life. What a paradox, eh? I want to call this post What I Know For Sure but I’ve used it a few times already. Still it is a good very phrase, a good handle to jump off.
What I know for sure is I’m not as powerful as I thought. But I’m stronger than I think. Though I thought I have been examining my life, I’ve been just running away and hiding. I’ve been caught in the busyness of tending to other things, other people. Now I’m standing still, facing the last few acts of my drama on this planet. I open the shutters, the closets and drawers of my mind. Everything is full of dust.
I am not daunted. I am not deterred. I roll up my sleeves and got out my elbow grease. I set aside my thoughts and musings for another time. One small thing at a time. Today is that humidifier. I turned it off, lifted the water tank off its base. I’m greeted by slime and calcium deposits, the sludge of being busy with ‘more important’ stuff. I set everything in the kitchen sink. What a bunch of work! I could be scrolling and watching TV instead.
I stood at the sink, examing it all, the humidifier and my thoughts. Plato’s An unexamined life is not worth living played in my head. I have a built in jukebox. It’s sending me a message. So I rolled up my sleeves again, got out the vinegar and a knife. It did not take long, less than 30 minutes. The surprising thing was I enjoyed the process of cleaning, scraping and scrubbing. In my mind I was cleansing my own inner chambers. Maybe it is true that our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. Clear and clean one, you do the same for the other.
Tomorrow I will tackle the spice drawer. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was full of sugar and everything nice? Not likely. Anyways tomorrow is another day. I can’t handle another word. I’m not made of a thousand words a day. I’m more of a Hallmark greeting card writer. I’m great at one line profundities.
It was Gene Siskel along with his colleague, Roger Ebert who asks the question, What do you know for sure? at the end of each show. I think it’s a good question to ask to start each day. What do I know for sure? It is Saturday morning. The air is fresh. It’s sunny and warm. The yard is lush with green foliage and the blues and purples of blooming petunias. I hear birds singing. I see them fly here and there.
I’m sitting on the deck with Sheba, drinking tea and tapping on the keyboard. I’m thinking about what is true and what is not. I’m thinking about where do I want to go for lunch. I’m thinking of how to be more flamboyant, what is fun and what makes me feel good.
What makes me feel good is getting an immediate ping back from the Universe. I am somewhat of a human laboratory. I am experimenting on the HOWS of pursuing excellence in living. Silence is a good tool. I still my brain from thinking, from forming an opinion, a judgement. Secrets reveal themselves. The answers are there for me to see. I silence my lips and let others speak. I hear everyone’s wisdom. I hear my own heart beat.
There are many things that I cannot control. Let me not waste time there. Let me not moan about what cannot be changed. Let me use my energy in the things I can. I can chart the course of my day, how I feel. I am captain of my ship. I can choose the direction I want to sail. I can choose from my own menu – the appetizer, the main course, dessert, the condiments. I do not have to stay in the storm. I can head for friendly waters and a safe haven.
Life is good. I have choices and options. This is what I know for sure today.
Afternoons are not any easier to show up here. The air is warm. What I really want is to lay down and have a nap. Maybe a cup of tea will help. That is my answer for everything – a cup of tea.
How quickly one’s brain get clouded. That small window of clarity is there for me in the morning when most of the world is still asleep. I can see that message on the wall before the world rushes in. I sit in the silence and the unspoken wisdom. Then I sit in the words of those who have trained and taught the wisdom – Melli O’Brien and Elisha Goldstein.
What I know for sure is that it is never a good or right time for anything. You have to make time for what your heart desires. It is and it isn’t all about me. It is about me in that it is I, who has the choice. It is I who must do the work. I am responsible. It isn’t all about me. The world is a big place. There are many me, me, me out there. We are all different but we are all the same. We are all part of humanity. We all suffer. We all bleed. If I can open my eyes and heart a little more each day, I can let more of the world in. I can suffer less. I can love more. I can, can’t I? What about you? Can you let me in just a little more?
What can I say with certainty today? It is the shortest day with the longest night of the year. It is winter solstice.
That was yesterday. This morning we are still in complete darkness. I was insistently nudged out of bed by Sheba’s wet nose. Just as well. I was wool weed gathering in bed, not sleeping nor tending my garden anyways. I was having a little bit of the moody blues and the simmering of a low grade depression.
That was what I thought – until I read Anne Lamott’s post. Then I realized I was just crazy and normal like everyone else at this time of year. No need to talk to the therapist about it. I read another post and it gave me a little hope that there is good in the world. I’ve been thinking about Christmas and gifting. How can I not? I’m not caught up with the masses and yet I am – in finding the perfect meaningful gift. I’ve found it in the last paragraph of Anne’s post.
“Emily Dickinson said that hope causes the Good to reveal itself. So bring it on. When I bring people hope–cups of tea, poetry and art supplies–then I’m holding hope in my hands, but I can only receive it by giving it away, to you, and to me; to us. Here, have some; it’s on me. Just don’t give up before you get the miracle.”
What I know for sure today, as in all days, is that I always have hope. I remember saying in therapy a long time ago that I am never without hope according to the questionnaire I had to fill. I was wondering why I was there. Did I wandered into the wrong place?
I am finding myself in the same place again. What I know for sure is, it is good to have hope. And it is good to have help, a little guidance, small nudges in the right direction when I have wandered off the path. I am gifting myself for the coming year. I’m preparing myself so that I will be opened to receive more of life. I want to feel more joy and less anger. I want more clarity to the yes(s) and no(s) I will be uttering. I want to be saying in December 2015, It was a very good year. I did the best I could.