Monday, July 6, 2015

Sabbatical - One day at a time

The word sabbatical came from the Jewish idea of the sabbatical year. When the fields were left fallow every seven years. A rest. I also pertains to those who observe the sabbath as a day of rest and worship.  This came to me while sitting on my porch this morning trying to decide whether I had to work today or not.

I have been off the past three days because of the holiday we were closed. Normally I would have worked this weekend and been off today if I so desired. I could work. I can always work I have the kind of job where you have imaginary customers until they sign so you are always working on jobs you may never get.

This makes me have judgements about myself and wonder why some jobs I get and some I don't. When I am spiritually where I want to be I just accept that all I can do is be myself and accept what comes my way. I do my best and so far it has worked out for me.

The idea of a sabbatical seems very appealing. I think today most people associate it with professors taking a sabbatical from teaching for research and travel. The dictionary said paid but it is an old dictionary.  I am not sure how many people get paid sabbaticals these days.

This morning I was questioning the past three days of doing nothing. It wasn't exactly nothing but close to it I did go out to small music jam fest yesterday for a couple of hours. I was close to 90 degrees and 100% humidity so not exactly pleasant. Our sketch group was meeting there to sketch the musicians.

Afterword a couple of us went to Chili's for dinner. The power went out and our order was lost and my food arrived cold two hours later we finished dinner. I took it all in stride and they took my meal off the bill. I felt that going out was a mistake after all.

I wasn't inspired this weekend to do anything. I was going to work on my house but the urge passed and here I am today deciding not to go to the office.

The idea of a sabbatical sounds about right to me. I thought when the idea popped up in my mind that it was interesting that it was every 7 years. I have been here 7 years and it has been seven years since the life I knew ended abruptly.

Just for today (ok it has been 4 days) I am going to do what I want and not worry about the imaginary consequences.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gray - Fear

After reading some of the post today about both marriage equality and  the shooting in South Carolina I feel both encourage and saddened. I think that it is hard for people to accept that the world is becoming more and more gray. Some things changing and some things staying the same.

I imagine that the supreme court decision struck fear into the hearts of many this past week.  I heard someone at work state that this would lead to church losing their tax exempt status if they don't accept gays. I was on the other side of the wall and had to laugh what a leap. It is always about the money isn't it?

The world is becoming more and more interconnected it is getting harder to isolate ourselves with people that think like we do. This scares people that liked the world when everything was black and white and you knew what was right and wrong. Especially the generation before me.

It was clear who the good guys were and everyone rallied around the TV and the 4 stations if you count PBS and were told exactly what we needed to know and life was simpler. Life has never been simple and it was just easier before the information age to pretend it was.

We have to think more than we ever have had to before. Today everything out there is testing what we thought we knew to be true. It requires us to live in the moment and make judgements in our lives on a day to day basis and that constant shifting is stressful and too much for some people.

The truth that life can never be totally safe goes against everything we live for. We just want to be safe and happy and with change it wakes us up sometimes with a hammer like the shootings and the supreme court decision. Showing us that the dream we are living in isn't real.

We have to step out of the world created by our own thinking and see that we live there alone and that other bigger things are happening. We have to accept that other people live in a different worlds than our own.  Sometime those worlds can collide and the result isn't always positive.

I am sad about the shooting and know that such an act was inspired by fear of change. Seeing ones inner truth tested by outer reality can be too much. Denial is in my opinion trumps everything and you can be right all the up until the minute you see you are wrong. Some people can't accept being wrong no matter what the consequences.

I think shootings will always happen. We live in our minds and if the story we tell ourselves is destructive of fixed on blaming someone else for our problems it can end in violence.  By nature I think we want someone to be responsible for how we feel it is easier than taking responsibility for our own lives. Luckily it doesn't normally result in attacking someone physically but this idea can take over our lives and feel us with fear and hate.

I feel lucky that I was raised by parents that believed and equality and love. Christ message was ultimately love one another. They also taught me that you have to be responsible for yourself and you would be accountable for your own decisions.  This along with if you don't do right you will go to hell.  I have chosen to focus on equality and love and dismiss the hell part.

I am happy today to be off in celebration of the 4th. Three days to work on my house and celebrate my mental and emotional freedom.  Hope everyone is celebrating something with someone.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Catching up - Life without G & H

I haven't been able write because I have been trying to catch up on the seven years of neglect in my house.  I cleared out my studio and installed cabinets that have been in my garage since I moved here. I save everything that I have some kind of vision for and generally beat myself up for being a pack rat. I am happy that I can finally make use of them.

I also couldn't write because the g and the h of my keyboard went out. A lot words use g and h so my writing looked like a secret code.  I purchased a wireless keyboard and ordered a keyboard replacement yesterday. 

My life has been on hold for a long time and I still feel guilty sometimes that it took me this long to heal. I thought I was healed a few times along the way but I know now that that wasn't true. I could be fooling myself again.

When I heard the words "give up the search" and felt instant happiness I was perplexed. Why would that make me feel happy.  Since then I have mulled this over in my mind.  I understood about giving up the spiritual search but now I think there is more. There is always more isn't there?

It is the wanting that has stopped.  The wanting for the life I lost and the wanting for my life to be replaced with something better. It is acceptance that what I am and what I have is enough. It is the acceptance that it is okay to not want what I have been told is normal and it is okay that other people do want it. 

Nothing outside ourselves makes us truly happy forever which is the part no one wants to own to. We fill our lives with what seems like bliss from the outside and then find ourselves feeling trapped. We think that we have made a mistake and start looking for something else. 

We are seeking a spiritual path to cope with our lives and what we think has gone wrong. We hope to identify the mistakes or flaws in our character that put us in this situation in the first place and to avoid future suffering. My own path did save my life but nothing can keep us from experiencing pain. We can learn that pain inevitable but not personal. The spriritual path is the path to marturity and acepting that everything can't solved and that somethings just are.

I have lived my life wanting something or someone to let me off the hook. I wanted feel for just one moment safe from all my insecurities. I wanted someone to say "there is nothing wrong with you just relax and everything will be okay".  I still want that but it doesn't exist. It does feel like it exist when you first fall in love and meet your first soul mate but no one has power over the future. 

You have to dig deep to find what makes you feel so insecure and the thoughts that instill terror. The kind of terror that wakes you up in the middle of the night. We avoid facing that fear with everything we have. I have spent a lifetime running from what I believed was the truth about myself.. 

For me the fear was that something was wrong me because I was never satisfied with what seemed to make other people happy. I couldn't conform and when I did it felt worse. This wasn't the core of my suffering the core had to do with not being able to change this about myself. I have never felt I really belonged anywhere. I have had times when I was included and I did feel safe but then I could clearly see that the way I thought about things made me an outsider.

I knew that I wasn't going to pretend to be someone I am not so I felt doomed. Being alone was more proof that this is what my life was going to be like. No magic cure for making me more like the world so it all seemed fatal. Until those word "give up the search" 

It gave me permission to do something I had already done but felt guilty about it. I had to admit I found the truth that I am who I am and there is nothing wrong with that. I could stop feeling that I needed to be fixed and set myself free. 

I am starting to feel good most of the time.  I do get lonely when I have a few days to myself and would like some company but I felt like that many times when I was in a relationship. I do fight boredom because my mind is in constant search of something more stimulating than what is offered with everyday life and chores. 

When I don't take myself or my day too seriously then I am content and even happy sometimes. I can find joy just appreciating who I am with all my imperfections. I can give up the search for a better me and  I can accept that the child in me will always want more. . 


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fathers - Healing

On the subject of  Father's Day. I loved my father and he loved me. I waited a lifetime for him to reach out to me and make me feel like I deserved to be loved, but it never happened. All of my relationships have been affected by the idea that my father didn't love me.  I felt that if I wasn't enough for him then I would never be enough for anyone.

I wasn't worth him taking the time to pursue me ever. After I left home at 16 he let me go and never looked back. Ironically I can be just like that too. I don't pursue but I wait until I am let go and I never look back.

This was just who my father was and it wasn't directed just towards me.  In recovery I got the courage to ask him why he let me go he said "every body's got to do what they got to do."  I knew at that moment that it wasn't about me.  I really wanted it to be.

It really felt worse because I knew I would never get the hole in my heart filled by the man sitting in front of me. I thought I would be forever broken  I thought he was the only hope I had for feeling normal.

It took another two decades (sorry) to get past that moment today I finally know it was this belief that I was broken that actually held me back. I thought had to accept the idea that nothing could be done about my brokenness and learn to live with it.

This was a big lie I told myself and I had plenty of other people telling me I had a perfect right to feel broken and hurt.  My friends and I were all the same it felt good to find others like me and this became my life's focus trying to make the best of my brokenness. Finding ways to find happiness despite the past.

I had to realize that dwelling on what I thought was missing made me miss the life I was actually living.  I was never 100% there because I was always trying to solve the problem of myself and what I was missing. Living with alcoholism helped because it gave me relief from the problem of me and put it on the problem of someone else.

I thought the best I could hope for was to deal with my feelings of the past.  Now I know I can choose to just think of my past as novel I finished reading yesterday. It is done it can't affect me today unless I want let it.  If I give in it might be because I enjoy identifying with the pain and suffering of the past. To me this was a habit I had done so long it was as natural as breathing. I see it now how stuck I was in my thinking.

When I go out in the world today I can be who I choose to be and if I want I can choose not to be that broken person in my head. Sometimes if I am with those that knew me before it is more difficult because they have their story of me and it hard for them to accept that I have changed. They may be holding tightly to their own story and it makes them uncomfortable that I have moved on.

I have lost some people in my life and I have given up others. I just don't fit with those living in the past or those that need someone to take care of.  I am no longer any one's project.

I am grateful for my past today but I am not going to live there. I am also grateful for my father who although he wasn't an emotional giant he did love me and said so even if i didn't believe him. He did give me the ability to fix all kinds of things and a curious mind.

I do agree with one thing my father said "every body's got to do what they got to do."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Death - 10,000 Miles

I watched the movie Fly Away this week and when the song played during the final scene I started bawling. It was a total surprise to me and I wondered what that was all about. The song is by Mary Chapin Carpenter and was really her first big hit.

The song is called 10,000 miles and is basically about someone leaving and promising to return. There was some much sadness in this song. I thought about the pain of losing what you didn't know you could lose. The song states even though I am 10,000 miles away I will return again some day. I say the last part is just wishful thinking.

I did get some sad news at the beginning of the week that has made me focus on loss.  The founder of our Art League passed suddenly from something I assume was medical since there were no details. He was young with a family and will leave a huge void personally and within the art community.

I am on vacation this week working on my house. It has been neglected since I moved here. I have evidently practicing being instead of doing. I am full up on being and plunging head first into doing. This week I cleaned the garage, power washed the porch and painted my deck three times.

While painting the last three days I had a lot of time to think about death and loss. It is something we will all get a chance to experience. With my own faith I don't fear death it can't be any worse than being left behind. The person going on at least gets all the answers but being left behind you are stuck with only questions and grief.

With any significant loss you are taken from a place of thinking you know what tomorrow looks like to total uncertainty. Of course the uncertainty was there all the time the loss puts it center stage. You can either embrace the clarity of the moment or you run like I did.

I just couldn't accept there was no safe place to go. I couldn't accept there was nothing I could do to prevent things from changing. I couldn't be better, I couldn't watch closer for signs of trouble I couldn't even pick a better person to spend my life with.

It is just the way life is and we have to learn to live with it. I have lived in fear of doing something wrong all my life and now I think what a waste of time. I worked hard to do everything right assuming that I would find happiness and safety.

Nothing from the past is hurting me now because I know now it wasn't my fault. Did I play my part? Absolutely, but so what it is just the way life is we do our best with what we have to work with. I can no longer grieve for what might have happened if I had done something different. I have wasted so much time thinking about what I have lost instead of seeing that it doesn't matter. Only what is happening today matters and bracing myself for the future sadness ruins the reality of today.

My mind has been stuck in the loop of the question of why.  My mind loves these unsolvable problems and once it takes hold it takes a miracle to break this loop of problem solving.

A healing has taken place in me that can see this so clearly now. I have been lost in my mind and now I can accept that there is no way to prepare I can just live and deal with what happens next when it gets here. I am free.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sisters - Love and Hate

I spoke to my sister yesterday giving her the belated birthday wish. I thought about it once on Friday and opted to call her when I got to work which was a mistake. Neither of us keep up with those kind of things and rely on non family to celebrate or existence. I use to really want that to change but wanting it and having it are two different things. We both have created different live for ourselves and we both have seemed to accept this.

We are four years apart and during our childhood I was basically a boil on her butt. She was my idol for a long time until I realized she hated me. Maybe hate is a strong word but I don't think it was far off. I ruined her only child life. She was on her way to being a prodigy when I her younger brother showed up. I was suppose to be a boy and got that message pretty early.

The truth was it wasn't far off I hated most girl things while my sister represented all things perfectly precious in our family. She never got dirty and practiced the piano two or more hours each day. She had straight A's all the way through law school. Her only soiled grade was PE in high school and she cried. The number of books she brought home each day equaled the number I checked out from the library for summer reading.

She did a lot things to hurt me when my mother was alive. She told lies about me that got me punished. Once she threw away a small wooden guitar that she made during Vacation Bible School and I retrieved it from the trash. She told my mother I stole it from her room.  I got a whippin for that and obviously I never forgot it.

Being the first born she never had it easy. The piano practicing stemmed from my mother's desire to be a concert pianist. The grades really were just expected and part of the complete package. In her room everything had a specific place and her drawers were labeled. She kept it locked most of the time and she had to use a Bobbie pen to enter each time. This starter after the guitar incident or did I have my own Bobbie pin?

I had groovy beads in my doorway and had convinced my dad to remove my door completely. I think my mother was good with this because she had my sister to beam over. I of course wasn't that into approval mostly because I could never live up to the perfection of my sister. My room was pack to the rafters andmy walls were covered with black light posters. I regular rearranged my five pieces of furniture because I was bored with things always being the same. I did that last weekend.

I would like to say that after my mother died my sister and I grew close but the intensity grew worse hitting a high or low point depending upon your perspective when she was throwing my things down the basement stairs and I said "one more thing goes down those stairs and you will follow."

That was the turning point for us and she stopped trying to pull rank on me. I was young and never understood why she hated me so much. After moms death there was just the three of us and my dad was checked out with grief. He wasn't paying the bills. She assumed head of household and her desire for control escalated to a point that called for war.

We did join together once briefly when my stepmother started her own special ops campaign which made Cinderella's stepmother seem compassionate. That was her last summer home and we have never been close since.

It hasn't been easy for her and after my mothers death she had a breakdown of sorts herself. She lost the desire to be perfect without my mothers expectations. She really went the opposite. I once tried to get in her car and couldn't find the seat. I ended up just sitting on the trash and papers. She doesn't iron and puts her makeup on without a mirror.

Loss changed us all. I remember going into my childhood room one day and raking everything into the trash. The person I had been was gone at ten I was all grown up and needed a change.

I love my sister and she loves me. We have both found our own successes in life and a place in the middle of extremes. She accepts me and my liberal spiritual beliefs and I accept her need to keep me at a distance. She has a lot of fear about the future and is concerned that something terrible is going to happen. She is right but that is true whether we worry or not.

I can see now that she has had her own suffering the same as me.  I couldn't really have compassion for anyone while I was lost in my own hurt. A child's hurt. It is clear to me now and I am seeing the truth of my life for the first time. I have been lost but now I am found.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The last haircut - Freedom - Change

My hairdresser is retiring tomorrow at 75. She has Parkinson's and with surgery she has been able to continue cutting hair until now.  She a strong willed woman who still isn't sure whether it is the right time to retire or not. For the few of us that are still her clients it is time.

So I had my last hair cut this week. I was a little emotional to think she will never again cut my hair. She is an excellent hairdresser with 50 years experience and even with the aging years and the Parkinson's I have no complaints. Maybe just a few.

We are a tough breed those that have survived living with alcoholism and addition. We dig in and never surrender even when we have every right to do so. My friend is tough as nails and I have never heard her complain not even once. When she got the diagnosis ten years ago she said when they told her the news she said "I am happy it isn't cancer."

I won't say it has been all fun and games. Having  brain surgery isn't anything to take too lightly. I have to say I wasn't a great friend at the time. I had lost everything including my mind and was barely making it myself. Before the surgery we did have weekly meditations on my porch after dinner.

Four or five of us would gather around the table and hold hands and sit in silence. This sometimes would last and hour. It would end spontaneously one person coming out of it and then the rest. We were linked so closely at that time everyone seemed to need the support. When we came out of it we would go around the table and talk about what we saw or felt and everyone would comment. The after talks were very healing. I couldn't have made it without those nights.

My friend is a silent sufferer not like me. I don't know if it is because she doesn't want the disease to get top billing or because she doesn't want to bother us with the details. Of course we don't ask it is our way. My friends and I are all the same expecting that if a person needs help they should say so.

Fat chance of that we have too much pride and stubbornness to admit when we need something. Forever autonomous declining all outside contributions. This is why we feel so lonely sometimes because we don't want to depend on other people. The people we have depended on have let us down so we are better off relying on ourselves that trusting another. We are more comfortable being trusted than trusting.

I have learned through the program that you can trust some people. The friends I talk about here I have know 20 plus years and they are all still around. What I do know now is that you have to know who to trust and know that when you get disappointed it isn't about you. Sometimes the other person is dealing with their own crisis and can't live up to your expectations.

Just like me I failed these same friends when I lost myself. They were use to me pulling things together like I did those meditation nights. I always kept things going no matter what happen. I had been the rock but even the rock can be submerged by a big storm.

I am happy to be back now even though I am changed forever.  Everyone has accepted me the way I am even though I am different. When my friend got her diagnosis I went out and bought every book possible on Parkinson's. The other day one of my friends mentioned that to me and then he said " the person that bought those books doesn't exist anymore."  I said "that is true,"

I don't believe in regrets.  I believe you do your best even if it is not good enough for other people or even yourself. It is all you have on any given day. We get into trouble when we set standards for other people and for ourselves and we get hurt when they don't adhere to our standards.

Over the years I have been able to let go an forgive the past by imagining what the other person must have been going through to do the things they did to me. Sadly it was never about me it was about their own demons and I was just part of the fall out. I took those hurts and made them about me and believed I was a problem that needed to be fixed. When I couldn't find a way to fix myself I couldn't accept this and I crashed.

When I recovered it was because I realized this was what I believed. I believed I was a problem and there was no solution. With grace I found this lie I had been told and kept telling myself. I am not a problem to be fixed I am just me living in a world with people just like me just trying to find a way to be happy.

I am free today.  I am free to do what is right for me and to mess things up if that is what happens. I can know that I can't control really anything so I can relax and enjoy the moment and deal with whatever comes my way today without bracing myself for it.