Sunday, October 22, 2017

Watching - Hoodie in the wild

I was sitting outside on my porch collecting myself this morning when I spotted some movement down below.  The movements appeared to be human which would be unusual since all the houses in my neighborhood are high up on a ravine with a small bit of water coming off of the river. We don't really have backyards just trees swamp (with snakes) and water you would have to be a real pioneer to venture down there.

I kept watching and could see movement on the other side.  Definitely human and they were coming closer one had a green hoodie and a large gray plastic assault rifle with a neon orange handle. The second was a foot and a half shorter with no hoodie.  Boys apparently on adventure not realizing I was just above them.  They made there way through the thick marshy area and were in my yard.

The older one spotted the bright red buds of my wild ginger plants and picked one,  He put the seeds in his mouth. I don't think they are edible because if they were the raccoons would have eaten them by now. He was intrigued and pick two or three more and put them in a draw string bag.  Meanwhile his little friend was walking in my neighbors yard and started calling out "Micheal let's go".  I suspect he had spotted me since he wasn't wearing a hoodie and could see better. 

It was nice to see that some kids were still willing to leave the comfort of their couch to venture into the wild. Even if it cost me a few bright red blooms. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Uncertainty - The small things - Courage

My mind has been all over the place since the storm.  It feels like with the recent tragedies one after another that the world is uncertain place.  Life has always been uncertain we just to choose to live in denial so we can get up every morning and pretend nothing bad will happen to us.

We do everything to give ourselves what we hope is an edge over the next guy. We take care of ourselves, eat right prescribe to a vast array of spiritual paths in hopes that this will keep us from suffering like the people we hear about on the news. Maybe our plans or spiritual faith gives us an edge but in my experience few of us get through life without be touched by tragedy.

I am not all doom and gloom because I think the worst part of the scenario is the worrying we do in advance.  The stress of thinking about how to protect ourselves from basically the unknown.  I did that for many years and the things I worried about most didn't happen but sometimes worse things happened stuff our never imagined did.

Can we prevent tragedy?  We can stop living and lock ourselves inside our homes, as long as it isn't a house in a flood zone and watch our lives go by. We can live in constant fear and ruin every minute of every day just waiting for the end of our happiness.  Oh wait it already ended when the worry began.

Nothing stays the same forever. The things we love and the things we hate will pass at some point.  The things we take for granted today may disappear tomorrow.  The only thing we can do is try to notice today the moments we have now.  Soak it all in and not get lost preparing for tomorrow.

We never know what small joys we may never experience again. Recently the Sonic up the street closed suddenly.  They boarded every window and put a big for sale sign in the yard. It made me think of all the times we took my friend with Parkinsons there after dinner to have a hot fudge sundae.  We are always trying to fatten her up at 90 lbs it isn't easily.  She loved it.  I was thinking how that will never happen again.  Oh we will go somewhere else but it still feels like a small loss.

Sure we will adapt but those moments are gone and will not be repeated. We take it all for granted because we have to or the uncertainty would make us nuts. I think we can be at peace regardless of the uncertainty. We can not get too attached to the way we think things will be or should be.

We we can use whatever spiritual path we have chosen to gather ourselves every day to face the day whatever it brings.  We can see the small gifts we are given.  We can accept that we don't know what is in the minds of others and how they might be suffering.  We can extend compassion to the people we meet everyday instead of getting lost in our own mind and we can extend compassion to ourselves when we don't think we measure up.

I have been sentimental and weary this past month but it has made me appreciate what have learned on my own spiritual path.  I do understand loss and hope that everyone affected by these events will find the courage to get up every day and go on. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Storm - Gratitude

We have had a lot going on here in the south and some of us are just starting to feel normal.  I was lucky and didn't have any damage to my property.  The other two people on my team are part of the 6% here that still don't have power here.

My neighborhood isn't even in an evacuation zone even though I am on a river inlet. A huge tree came down on an adjacent street.  It landed on top of a van parked in the driveway. With Mathew last year most of the older more brittle trees fell so I was surprised to see it down.

Two friends were staying with me for the main part of the storm one had been evacuated from a high rise at the beach. All went well and they were able to go home after two days.  I got my power back the second day and we were all back to work by Wednesday.

Our phones and Internet were off and on at work and people have been coming in when they couldn't get us on the phone. One customer stopped by in person to make sure I was able to run their credit card and get their carpet ordered before the storm on Friday.

Life goes on and we are lucky we can adapt to whatever happens to us. For most of us here we are feeling grateful that we were missed. Getting back to work was a blessing. It felt like coming back after you have been out sick for a week. Like I was in a fog.  With no email and Internet it gave us an extra day to come out of the fog.

I am grateful to be working and not dealing with the loss they felt in the Keys and the Islands. Paradise has it's drawbacks but for most of the time it is worth it.  I wonder if after this there will be a northern migration.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Could it be the food? - My sweet tooth

I have always believed that with help you can talk yourself through most emotional problems and that it is your core belief system and personal distorted ideas about things that really hold you back. We are so sure that our thoughts are the truth and rarely do we challenge those beliefs. 

We look for people that agree with us and stick close to them limiting any feedback that might poke holes in our own rigid ideas. This keeps everyone in the same place and feeling self-righteous and dismissing all other possibilities. But what if something else is contributing to the way we think.  Could the food we eat affect the way we think?

I had some recent blood test that indicated that I am borderline diabetic. With that news I went out and bought 3 books on Autoimmune diseases - Hashimoto's disease - diabetes. While reading I came across a chapter about the effects of thyroid disease on the emotions. Almost word for word describing my on thoughts and my lack of interest in things that use to excite me.  Almost and indifference. Could my eating habits and my thyroid be causing this?

There is so much conflicting information about autoimmune diseases as well as diabetes but almost everyone agrees that sugar is the Satan of all foods. I know that no matter what I will not be able to continue to use sugar for escape when life becomes too much.  I remember as a kid going to some extreme lengths to find sugar in my house after my own mother decided we had to give it up.

I had been diagnosed with ADD and the school wanted my parents to put me on Ritalin.  This was the early 70's. I had trouble concentrating and spent a lot time standing in the hall outside my classroom. I was disruptive and they wanted a solution.  Just like me my mother did some research and found that studies showed that eliminating sugar from the diets of children calmed them down.

I remember this time period well because I loved sugar.  Even before this time I would steal my sister's Easy Bake Oven icing mixes and eat them out of the box hiding behind the couch. Chocolate was out too and my mom substituted carob for chocolate and ruined a lot of good recipes.  I decided to spend more time at my friend's house scoping other sources of sugar. Sugar is a physical craving even though just yesterday I heard a doctor on You Tube say otherwise.  

When my mother got cancer the sugar famine at my house ended. My parents were focused on her diet and we spent hours at the hospital drinking as many sodas as we wanted. With my dad in charge we were left to fend for ourselves and we gave a list of what we wanted to whoever was grocery shopping for us. I was eight when this began so you can imagine Coke was at the top of the list.

My mother wasn't in the hospital all of the time but when she was home they were focused on the macrobiotic diet still used by cancer patients today.  My parents weren't hippies, but even before she got sick, we ate mostly vegetables that were organically grown by my dad in the back yard of our suburban home. We were taught that your body is your temple and God expects you to treat it that way.  

I did get my present eating habits from them.  I don't eat processed food and make my meals from scratch. It is no big deal to me since it is all I have ever known.  I even have controlled my sweet tooth except in the worst of times.

When I was reading the paragraph about thyroid disease and thoughts people were having. How some had lost interest in things they loved a generally had an apathy for life it was almost word for word what have thought. During my meltdown I didn't really eat and when I did it was sugar I wasn't sure if I wanted to live so diet wasn't at the top of my list.

Just a side note.  The body processes sugar in the liver the same way it processes alcohol. There is an epidemic of non-alcohol fatty liver disease right even in children. The experts say it is from soda and hidden sugar in processed foods.

The past few weeks I have been contemplating what I am willing to change about my eating habits. Can I totally give up sugar, wheat and dairy.  Not likely in the long run given my history.

I did think that if I never felt apathy for life again would that be enough of a prize to at least consider it. The answer is yes so I am just trying it out - no sugar, dairy or wheat. I have been watching my eating since I got my test results. I already do feel better mentally and physically and I have lost 5lbs.

Overall I eat like my parents taught me to eat even if I use sugar in time of stress or boredom. I never imagined that it could be affecting my thoughts.

Ironically the diet I have chosen seems pretty close to the macrobiotic diet my mother was on except with a little more protein. Mom and dad would be pleased.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

My first beer - The voice in my head - Finding happiness

I am off this weekend and working on various things that peak my interest.  On Monday I hired a friend from the program to trim the one huge tree I own that grows about six feet from my front door. He agreed to do the work on Friday and at one o'clock I hadn't heard from him. I text him and he said he would be there by 3:30 by that time I had to leave to meet a client at the office.

This use to make me nuts this kind of personality but now I just let things flow if his schedule works with mine then it will get done. I text back that as long as he did not need me then he was welcome to come whenever he wanted. We are both in recovery and have worked together before so I know to just let it go.

My theory about recovery, both sides of the table, is that we are all too smart. We have quick minds that work against us most of the time. Our minds constantly need a challenge something to solve something to entertain us.  If we don't have that our minds drift to the negative or create crisis. Once this happens we can focus on fixing the problem or if it can't be fixed we can spiral into asking why we did this and why we are so stupid.  Once this talk starts it can take over an paralyze the body a constant loop of self-hatred and we all look for a way out.

I imagine for the addicted that the substance of choice gave a moment of relief from that voice. Even though I am not addicted to alcohol I remember being 15 years old and having my first beer. As the liquid went down throat I could already feel a sense of relief.

The years between my mothers death and when I left home are still the worst years of my life. I was trapped in an emotional situation that was unbearable in so many ways.  I was too young and could not escape.  I had done everything I knew to make my dad and his wife happy but nothing was enough. I blamed myself because I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. When I drank that first beer all that stress melted away. It was only one beer but I got a taste of freedom from my own mind.

What that teenager didn't know was that it wasn't me it was two immature adults stuck in their own self absorbed world. I thought it was all about me, as most teenagers do, I was sure if only I changed my behavior I could fix the problem.  They would love me and we would all be happy. I had the power.

I took both of these beliefs into my adult world. First I have been immature myself in thinking that everything is about me  The second is that everything is my fault and I have the power to fix it. If something bad happens then it is a result of something I did. This has been the theme of my life. I have been a self-improvement junky because I believe if I change I can keep the next bad thing from happening. What a mind trap.

The 12 steps and every other spiritual quest I have been on helped me to first and foremost identify that I actually have a negative voice inside. The child's voice that still blames me for anything unpleasant that happens. It is that voice that becomes unhappy when I am bored or lonely and lashes out with words that only a child would use. "This is your fault".

I get it now. Oh how I wish I had gotten it sooner but better late than never. The program taught me to tame the voice - make friends with voice. It taught me to be more mature on the outside and take responsibility for my part in every sick situation. What was holding me back was that my core beliefs were a child's belief that everything is my fault. Your parents are unhappy then it is your fault.

This all came up because my tree trimmer is a brooding man. He told me he hasn't been to any meetings for awhile that he has been a recluse. I know he has had problems with depression the same as I have. I also know that him not arriving on time is his rebellious child in him. It doesn't bother me. I talked to him about our child's mind running the show. To not listen to the negative talk I hope it helped.

My own addiction has been trying to find out what is wrong with me so I can fix it. Today I am happy because the voice is quiet. We are free to play and do whatever we want to it is the weekend and we are getting stuff done.  We are all trapped with the child's voice and making peace with it is the only way to find happiness.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Magical powers - Intuition - worst critic

There has been a little lull in the action at work the past couple of weeks. The quiet has generated some fear about my security. I have push that away and decided to take this time to purge old files at both my current position and at home purging files from my closed company.  It feels like "This is Your Life" or "This was Your Life" depending which boxes.

I started with the more recent boxes from the old business which was during the end of the recession. Those jobs were mostly small jobs and for me thy represented some of the worst times in the business.  Since I packed up in one weekend I didn't have time to look at much of anything.  This seems like a familiar theme in my life leaving in a hurry. I had all the bids I gave whether I got the job or not.  The time I wasted on jobs that I knew in my heart would never happen. I needed them to happen to survive or so I thought.

I was new in the business and the times they were desperate and I had to at least try to close anything that came to me.  I am older and wiser these days and instinctively I know when I should pass on a customer even if sometimes I don't.  My intuition is good but sometimes I take a chance even if I know it is a long shot. This way I don't take it personally if it doesn't work out.

When going through these files I only saw my problem customers. The jobs where the people were difficult to begin with and I couldn't magically make them happy.  I skipped over the people that loved what I did for them and ended up with something better than they imagined.  I only saw my own short comings what I could have done differently.

When I am my worst critic it is because I believe if only I had been a little more on my game things would have turned out differently. It always puts the control back on me instead of all parties involved.  At the time I wanted to believe that I had magical powers and could make these people happy if only...this thinking leads me to "I am not enough" a core belief I have fought most of my life.

After the second box I felt I needed help so I turned to an old stand by on YouTube a teacher named Gangaji. The first video she said it  "We will never be enough" stop this endless search for perfection. Life is not about the destination of "being enough" the search for this feeling exhaust us and keeps us from loving the life we have. Seeing was is right with our world. Lost our thoughts instead of what is in front of us. I needed to hear it. My thoughts about myself were making me miserable.

Today I woke up lighter.  This is a pattern I have noticed about myself I take a dip and then I have another awakening and I am ready to move on.  I have learned or re-learned something and now I can stop taking myself so seriously.

I realize again that whatever happens isn't always about me.  I am not the center of the universe. All I can do is be my best self and let other people do the same and if it works out great if it doesn't just move on. The good news is that I only have three boxes left. UGH!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Graves - Tragedy and Denial

I was looking for an old receipt for my shower unit and came across some paperwork of my deceased aunt where she had been sued over the family section of the cemetery. I had forgotten about this but it was a very big deal for her.

My mothers family is from a small town that still has only one light,  After my grandmothers death she decided that the family area of the cemetery should be spruced up. She had a concrete border poured around it and gravel filled it in.  She was really proud of the work and thought that at last she did something for her family.

She received a letter from an attorney stating that she had covered over the graves of another family. A local family that claimed their brother and still born child were buried there. The family still lived there and the matriarch of the family who had dementia became disturbed by the change at the cemetery and wanted it changed back.

My aunts paperwork had a neatly drawn layout showing the graves and the people they believed were in them. I also found records of funeral provided by the funeral home for almost everyone buried there after 1930. Before that it was here say and children were buried on top of other graves which is why we had this dispute..

My aunt her small town in shame.  Her husband left her for another woman the first year she was married.  She was pregnant and after the baby was born she got a divorce and left town leaving her baby with my grandmother. She moved to the closest town and found work waitressing sending money home. An escape from that small town where she was disgraced. She never went back.

Her son died of dysentery at the age of two in the care of my grandmother. My aunt was never the same after that. She stayed in the city working. She meet my uncle a navy pilot. He wore a uniform and drove a red convertible. She had movie star looks and he was in love. They married and she moved about as far north as you can in this country.

Over the years she created a carbon copy of the life she saw on TV right down to the Cape Cod house with the white picket fence. They were not able to have children so they adopted a boy and a girl exactly one year apart both blond. He golfed they belonged to the country club and on the outside it looked perfect. Over the years she built a delusional fortress around herself that could no one penetrated.

Her baby was buried in that cemetery and I imagine that was what drove her to put such effort into fixing it up. She was nearing the end of her life and she wasn't mobile. Everything she did concerning the lawsuit she did over the phone.  She denied the one request from the other family to remove the headstone over the grave of one of there members. Her 4 year old sister was buried there. She refused.

They went to trial with a jury and everything. It wasn't a jury of her peers to them she was just some highfaluting northerner getting into southerners business. She lost and was required to remove the gravel covering and head stones over the disputed graves. She didn't do it and I am guessing that because of the age of everyone involved it never got done.

My aunt was cold and unloving to her husband and her children and frankly to everyone that tried to make her see life in a truthful way. Her two kids were emotionally disturbed to start with and she never really bonded with them. Her son turned to alcohol and her daughter has had a tragic life. She stayed in denial until her death. No one came to the funeral but myself and her caregiver.

I was the closest to her (except her caregiver) at the end of her life. She was more likeable to strangers than those of us who knew the path of destruction she left behind. Literally crushing the people close to her daily with her words.  I was her favorite mostly because I didn't anything from her money or even approval. I can't say back then I had compassion for her like I do today.

Before she died we set up a trust together for her kids and one grandchild. They don't live in luxury but they are not homeless like they have been. She often told them they should be like me. When I was getting my interior design degree she told everyone I was going to law school. To her lawyers, doctors and nurses were stars and so in her mind I had to be a lawyer. I am real popular with her kids.

She was the first born and my mother was the last.  She moved back to the city where she waitressed and that is where I live now. I distanced myself from her until after my uncle died it was too painful to see how unhappy they were and how things got worse as they aged. I spent one day a week there bringing her back into reality for just one day. I was the heavy and she fought me all the way.  She never left her world of denial and in the end she died peacefully. She told me that she was seeing Jesus and other family members that had gone on before her.

When she died we buried her in that same little cemetery in the deep south. Not in the area where she did the improvements but off to the side.  That is appropriate because the rest of the family might just come to life and get up and leave.

Life can be so hard that your mind guards you from reality.  When we can't accept that life didn't turn out like we imagined or some dream we had has been shattered we do our best to survive first and then if we are lucky we get help. We can't rely on our own mind to always tell us the truth. My aunt suffered her whole life and died basically alone it didn't have to be like that.