Friday, April 29, 2011

Love letters from the IRS - All is well

Coming home yesterday I drove up to my mail box and rolled down the window in the pouring rain to get the mail. I spied the familiar envelope from my friends at the IRS and cringed just a little bit. I was surprised when I opened it and it a actually said thank you for your recent inquiry and stated that all is well.

If you have read my blog before you know during my depression I got my business unemployment taxes really screwed up and the the whole situation loomed over me for litterally years. I avoided the mailbox like I was expecting a mail bomb, really just the a emotional mail bomb.

When the worst part of the depression started to lift I started tentatively facing my worst fears. I slowly faced where my life had brought me and started fresh. No more resisting what is for what I wished it was. The worst part was that I didn't really want my old life back but I didn't really want the new life either. Stuck in emotional tug of war with the future and the past pulling equally.

I am thankful today for the life I have and am I sitting on the porch this morning healthy with no more of a clue where I am going than when I was depressed, I feel good. Before the depression I had never felt paralyzing fear. Sure I had been scared before but I always knew somewhere inside I would make it through. This time I didn't want to fight back and the darkness held me down for a long time.

I do feel like I should mention that the grief brought on early menopause for me. The symptoms mostly manifested emotionally all though at times I had severe flu like symptoms and all my joints ached it got so bad once I thought maybe I had bone cancer. It didn't help that everyone said I was too young for menopause. This distorted my emotional state not knowing what was grief and what was hormones and sometime a mixture of both.

I decided to wait out the storm in my usual stubborn way instead of using meds. Looking back maybe that wasn't the best choice but the worst is over now and my spirit is free to look at my life with a little objectivity. This blog helped to distract me from the darkest places.

I hear bits and pieces of my story in other blogs and conversations with women I know. Just the other day my sister said I think I have flu but I don't have a temperature. It is different for everyone and shouldn't be taken lightly. My next door neighbor said his second wife just up and left him during menopause and when it was over came back, but it was too late.

Final thoughts on this subject. In my life I have mostly unstoppable and my faith and the program has sustained through much worse than my current life situation. This knocked me down and kept me down for a long time. Random thoughts of checking out would float through my head without any real trigger. I knew it wasn't me and gave myself 24 hours to feel differently.

So if you love yourself or someone else who is experiencing this life change be patient, kind and loving. If you feel like your living with a stranger, you probably are. But it is worse if the stranger is the one looking back at you in the mirror. Either way, this too shall pass.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What on my plate - It only matters to me

Did you ever here the adage I've got too much on my plate. I was thinking about this after a discussion I had with the owner yesterday. I took it one step further and said no one ever cares how much or even what is on my plate.

We all think that what is important to us should be important to someone else. We get frustrated when the people we love or think should love us do not give our ideas or wants the same priority as we do.

I have felt frustrated at work because I feel I am on my own with trying to make things happen. I have a vision and feel that time is of the essence and no one is really that interested in my vision.

This occurred to me when the owner was talking about how his wife has let the grand kids tear up the new porch he just built. The office he was sitting in is basically falling down around him. I had just finished cleaning the front room that he had totally trashed and spilt coffee every where. Bottom line, it is not on his plate.

This is where I have to make a decision. Can I accept things as they are, the people I work with remaining exactly as they are or I can move on and find a place where the vision I have for building a business is shared by others.

When I lived with the effects of active alcoholism it destroyed me because I kept waiting for the situation to change for the person I loved to wake up a do the right thing. I wanted someone to share my vision and work on the things I thought were important. Nothing was as important as the escape the alcohol gave him. My vision for our life together wasn't as important to him. I translated that into I wasn't that important to him and eventually I thought I wasn't important period.

So the dilemma of relationships alcoholic or not is how to live with the fact no one will every be passionate about all the same things I am. It goes back to pain caused by this expectation. I expect those closest to me to want me to be happy and see life the way I do. The same way dysfunction has made me care more about what you want than what I want and expecting the same in return. How crazy is that.

How do I find a balance with this notion? The fine line between selfishness and martyrdom. It is hard for me to disappoint others but the real issue is my own guilt when I do. Sometimes I don't know if I have even really disappointed anyone or is just my own assumption. Am I really that important? I have found mostly no. Everyone just goes on with their lives.

When I broke off from my commitments last August it was first time I picked me over the wants and needs or expectations of others. It took nearly a breakdown to get to that point. It felt so alien to me but so freeing. For the first time I could see how my pattern of just going along was making me feel I had no choices and breaking free showed me that it was a prison of my own making.

So we each have our own plates. If we are lucky we might find someone that likes some of the same foods but probably not all of them. Sometimes our tastes change and the foods we liked before have lost their appeal. Sometimes it is comforting to eat those childhood favorites but they never quite live up to the memory. We are in charge of our lives and make new choices every day to either keep things the same or try something new.

I can't take it personal when someone else doesn't share my vision, but I can choose to move on if that is what is best for me. It is a choice I can make again every day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday - A Path to God

I took the day off yesterday. I thought a little space between me and the office would be good under the circumstances. It has mostly blown over but I will take care of myself and my boundaries at a later date.

The day started on the porch with the very active wildlife community. Birds, butterflies and squirrels, oh my. My pet owl was calling out with no response. It was actually pretty calm and quiet compared to the previous night. At 2 AM I couldn't sleep and went out on the porch to meditate the frogs and raccoons were so loud I had to go back inside to get some peace.

In the day light everything seemed fresh and new. I reflected on the fact that it was Good Friday and that many people were acknowledging the meaning of the day for them. I thought about what it means to me and determined that for me it showed a willingness to give everything for the ultimate good of mankind. Could I do that?

I am not willing to give up my place in line most days, let alone my life. Is that true? Actually I think a spiritual life does require giving up your life in a sense that you step back and see a bigger picture. You look at other people as souls trying to find their way through life, just like me. Doing their best or least their best for the moment even if it doesn't meet my expectations. Maybe their best will be better tomorrow. We are all just trying to find our way. I feel lucky I found a program that gave me guidelines for finding my own way when I was so lost and sad.

I went to an Earth Day ceremony last night that included drumming, chanting and other rituals. About 20 people finding there own way by getting very worked up and I felt detached. It reminded me of my childhood in the pentecostal church watching the emotions pouring out. I do believe in a personal connection to God and everyone has to find it in their own way. A year ago I might have been interested in this because I was still searching. I have found God in the quieter moments now.

The search is over for me. The time and energy I have spent looking for the truth has led me back to the same place over and over. Staying in this moment and realizing we are all connected spiritually and part of the whole. It has been the ultimate awakening for me. My ego enjoys being an individual but it only brings me temporary pleasure. Acquiring the next thing or the next experience satisfies only for a moment. Then the search must go on for something more.

I left the ceremony and went outside. I stood in front of the a small pond and noticed a lot of movement. It was full of turtles and they were very busy doing nothing, from my perspective. As the sun was setting I truly felt part of a bigger plan.

On the ride home my friend and I talked and she said she felt the same thing that there was nothing there for us. It has been a year of awakenings and we both are feeling content to just be. It is nice to be with others that have the same interest in the spiritual and we will continue to participate. It is just different now.

You probably think I have gone off the deep end and think I have found some kind of nirvana but it is not true. I have been on the quest all my life and only this year I have found that the answer isn't out there it's in my heart. The same place God is for me. It is so simple maybe too simple. When I make it complicated it takes me further from what God wants for me peace and serenity.

I still have bad days and will have to fight my ego constantly to keep fear from making me doubt my new found freedom. Already it says, who do you think you are making it so simple? That voice will be out of work if I stop listening. My spirit is what God created and the ego is what I created. If I stop listening I will be free to listen to others and when I am really quiet I can hear the voice of God.

As always, this is my journey take what you like and leave the rest.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Can I really let go?

It has been a week of emotional turmoil. My business partner and I had a blowout. She left and then returned and started yelling at me and stormed out for the day.

I don't react to this kind of behavior and was really pretty shocked. I have seen it before but not directed towards me. She did send me an email later in the day apologizing for the outburst but making sure that I knew she was right. Maybe she was but by that time that wasn't really the point.

We have both taken a step back and are looking at whether we can be partners. I can see myself in her 20 years ago always pushing my agenda and feeling like a victim everybody against me. I couldn't trust anyone and everyone was dumping on me. That still happens but only if I let it. Back then I couldn't detach long enough to see the situation from any ones perspective but my own. Reacting, fight or flight.

I am slower to come to my conclusions now and probably try too hard to see it from the other persons side. We are the way we are because it works for us or it did work at some point so we keep using it. This is what the program taught me and then it taught me that I could let go of behaviors that no longer work for me.

Do I want to sign up for this kind of very familiar relationship? The day to day drama of not knowing who is walking in the door. I am dealing with my past here resurfacing once again. God asking me, do you want this lesson one more time? Can I choose myself this time?

I had a dream of us building something together but that faded somewhat this week. This will never be about what works for us only what works for her. Eyes wide open this time. I don't expect people to change for me anymore I just have to decide if I can live with them the way they are.

I can feel that familiar feeling of wanting someone else to be different than they are. Trying to salvage my vision of what I thought the future would look like. Sugar coating what will clearly be a problem for me sooner or later.

This is the real issue here. I can only see my dream coming true one way. I am limiting the possibilities for making this happen any other way. Awareness is the first step to letting go and I think I am ready.

With a higher view I see I am limiting God's ability to provide me with something even better than this. I don't have to take the same path again if I choose not to.

I am not moving too quickly all will be revealed. I am alone here today which is a relief and that will give me time to work on my ducks.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My experience with the Steps

A friend was sharing with me yesterday about a conflict she was having with someone that worked with her. I suggested a different approach and she made the statement that she was just a direct person. I thought, how is that working for you? (thanks Dr. Phil) I use to be that person. I would tell it to you straight like it or not even if you didn't ask.

It brought me back to how we have the false belief that we can't change who we are and I know that that isn't true. The Steps changed me completely. After that conversation I watched a sermon on TV that was about labels. He is a very positive speaker so I am open to the message. In my mind God's messages to me are not limited to a specific source and if I pay attention even a billboard can have message for me. So take what you like and leave the rest.

I agreed with the thought that we are limited by the labels and don't even know if the labels are accurate. Labels given to us by other people. We can live up to or down to the labels or we can decide to label ourselves.

It takes work to break out of this mold or even just question if what we were taught is true. I think the 12 steps began this process for me. If I had known it would be such work or the journey would be life long I might not have taken that first step.

The Steps are sneaky. They catch you when you are desperate, Step One. Then right away they make you feel better by giving you hope and comfort, Step Two. By that time, for the moment, you are willing to give up control, Step Three.

This is when you start to wake up and realize you have been your own worst enemy. Bummer. Then the Steps teach you that you have the ultimate power to change yourself and the way you think. To question whether your own thoughts have had your best interest at heart.

It starts off slow and you meet with resistance mostly from yourself and then boom you feel a little freedom. So you move on and then another mental road block, the Step Four. Hate it, yuck can't go around it, looks like a mountain just when you were breezing along but it is too late you have felt the freedom the steps have to offer. So you sit there looking at it for a long time and it is staring back at you. Then someone convinces you it isn't such a big deal so you jump in and they were right it didn't kill you.

You tell someone all the terrible things you have admitted to yourself about yourself and they look at you and they say so what, Step Five. Your not so special nothing on the list that hasn't been on a million other peoples list. The case you have built against yourself has fallen apart and now you can start to let it go.

How do you do this? I am not really sure how it happens but it does. With Step Six you just sit with what you have discovered and decide if you can part with the baggage. Is it possible that everything you thought was fact might have been distorted by your own thinking? It is too much to take it all in at once. Is it possible some of what has happened to you is your own doing? If you can accept this painful truth and want to make a clean sweep you are off to Step Seven.

You decide you really want a new start and you let go. It is humbling to ask for help to admit you don't have the answers. When you do this doors start to open because you are open to a will other than your own. Step Eight is about gathering your thoughts and figuring out if facing those that you have unknowingly or knowingly trampled along the way and would benefit from an apology. More humbling on the way.

You have made it this far and you thought there was nothing more scary than Step Four until you reach Step Nine. OMG! You can't avoid it it is the road to freedom. The response to your amends is not your responsibility. It is getting to the place of being willing to admit what was done that frees you. I think of things that have been done to me and how far even an acknowledgement would go let alone an amends. It is never too late for a sincere apology.

So you have put all out there for everyone to see and your ok with that now. You feel so free without the out dated thoughts of the past, the judgements you made about yourself and others. How do you keep from going back? Step Ten covers that by keeping things current, staying humble every day. Doing the best you can and knowing that everyone else is too. Even though they aren't doing it the way we think they should.

This is where we are going to need help and lots of it. Step 11 is the most important to me because my ego has been in charge up until now and isn't too happy with relinquishing control and will fight to the death to get it back. Literally. I need back up in this area and finding time to really question my thoughts keeps me from slipping back. Lost in the negative banter in my head.

The whole process results in the first of many awakenings Step 12. Some small some life changing. I do my best to pass on the gift of freedom and hope to others. I can't really give it to them but I can show them that it is possible. They have to find their own way. Just as I have found mine.

The Steps have changed me and for that I will forever be grateful. I am constantly running up and down these steps and they have become part of who I am and some days I have start with Step One and begin again.

Disclaimer - My version - Take what you like and leave the rest.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Prodigal Daughter - Awakening

I went back to a meeting on Monday that I use to attend regularly before I took my sabbatical from all personal commitments. I felt like the prodigal daughter everyone was hugging me and very welcoming and not a bit awkward.

When I started going to the meeting it was held on Wednesday and they were going to change it to Thursday which conflicted with my Al-Anon meeting so they changed it to Monday. I didn't ask them to do that but they are a very agreeable group so when I dropped out I felt a little guilty.

I felt saturated with all the different things I had gotten into. Don't get me wrong I have a short attention span and to keep myself engaged I am interested in many things. I did get overbooked and spiritually too focused on helping others. I remember a page in the Courage to Change that says like in an airplane put the mask on yourself first and then help the person next to you.

I learned a lot about myself during my time off. It has been nine months and a re-birth has taken place. At the time, my life consumed me and even if I was able to help others it had to come to an end. I was still running from my true self and afraid if I stopped something horrible would happen.

I remember the exact moment of the shift, the spiritual awakening, I was standing on the stairs and on the phone with a friend. They were informing of one commitment that I had forgotten that would make three total for the evening. I decided then and there that I needed to exit the stage and I did.

A new life was created in the past nine months. Even if my life from the outside looks worse on the inside there is calm, for the most part. I feel a freedom of spirit that I have never felt before.

Going back to the meeting was a test and not a commitment. A toe in the water to see what the temperature was like. Did it feel right? I know now that once something feels like an obligation it starts to drain me slowly. Sometimes so slowly I don't even notice until all the joy is gone.

This my experience and what I have learned about myself it has happened to me over and over again. Whether with careers, relationships or even my spiritual quest. Keeping things the same feels comforting at first and then that wears off and there is a subtle shift from comfort to routine and then boredom.

I having to keep writing about it to remind myself to keep things loose even if I am uncomfortable. I can't run for safety in the routine this time. I got to make my way and rely on faith when it all feels so uncertain. Right now that is real scary.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tenacious - Not readily letting go

Definition of Tenacious - Character defect or asset?


1. Not readily letting go of, giving up, or separated from an object that one holds, a position, or a principle: "a tenacious grip".

2. Not easily dispelled or discouraged; persisting in existence or in a course of action: "a tenacious legend".

I am tenacious. It is usually in the manner of the first definition that gets me in trouble and the manner of the second that makes things happen in my life.

If I do the first and then move on to the second I am home free. This is where the perils lie when I am looking at the second when I am still clearly stuck in the first.

A lot is happening and nothing is happening at work. Doors keep closing and I am seeing the future from a higher view these days. I am ready to move on from a place of longing for the past. It served me well because it brought me to where I am today but it is the past nevertheless.

I am writing in riddles today because I feel like for the first time I don't need to be the glue that holds things together and I can let go. The need to make something work that from my new found vantage point is clearly broken. The players on the team are not team players and my time here is just about over.

So what is next? I don't know but I do know that I have moved on from feeling responsible for the business. I feel lighter and happier for the moment and this is what I needed today.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Owls - Meditation

I spent the day on the porch yesterday. I was going to go to the office and paint and then the other designer called and said today's appointment cancelled. I felt deflated and overwhelmed with it all and stayed on the porch.

As I sat there meditating and reading one of my spiritual books a small owl flew down and perched on a limb six feet away from the porch screen. This is unusual I usually don't see them except at sunset.

After a few moments a bird swooped in and started squawking and flying as close as he could to make the owl move. It didn't work the owl just sat there staring directly at me. Steady not letting the bird get to him.

I am working hard to let go and remain steady right now. After my owl encounter I had an emotional moment and ended up on my knees asking God to relieve me of my fears. The relief was instant and I know that it is all going to work out. Not in my time or the way I think it will but it will work out.

Holding steady today and keeping my mind on what is right in front of me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Riding a Horse

This is not another metaphor it is the real thing. I spent my life mostly working or accomplishing things the act of getting things done suits me well. I realized quite recently that it is not easy for me to do something just for entertainment.

I started to think of a few things I would like to try. A bucket list I guess you might say. It is short list at this point but on the list I put ride a horse. I rode one once when I was eight and that was it. It might sound silly but I when your task oriented time gets away from you. Always planning for others or taking care of the details of life.

I went to a silent auction on Friday night and there it was a one hour horseback riding lesson. I am broke right now but I was the starting bid of $20 the lesson a $40 value. I was the highest bidder and now I am going get to ride a horse.

I have been shut down to my own desires for most of my life. Few things have brought me true joy. The alcoholics I have been attracted to stirred something in me that made me feel more alive than I ever was on my own. That feeling was as close to joy as I thought I could get but of course it was fleeting. I was living through someone else and it was more of a distraction than real joy.

I didn't want to face the truth that I really didn't know who I was and maybe if I started looking for me no one would be there. I was boring and keeping up with the alcoholic was an adventure and I didn't have to acknowledge my real fear of being no one without someone.

I am still looking for me. I have really stopped just trying to fill my time with what is offered up. Hours of doing things I had no interest in doing because it was easier than being still or searching for my own joy.

I am taking a horseback riding lesson. I might hate it or maybe I will love it. Who knows maybe I will join the rodeo. At least I am trying something just for me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Riding the Waves - The Important Stuff

I am riding the waves these days up one day with many new potential jobs and down the next with the pressure of my personal bills and the business bills coming in each day.

I had an appointment this morning and then went to the office. The owner was there cleaning which is helpful but it also means I have help make decisions about where things go and what to throw out.

We are really alike and when we work together we wrestle over everything. It was really comical today because I wanted to see with my eyes what was in every box and he wanted keep it taped up. He would say just read the label. This happen over and over.

We started laughing hysterically when we found a cabinet full old plaques (top sales 1998...) and we started to throw them away but then started to think of things we could make with them. Each idea more outrageous than the last. This is why we have so much old crap. We are both creative and can't resist at least thinking about making something from nothing. We only threw half of them away.

It is times like these that I know that this is really what life is all about the small moments shared laughing about nothing. He has made a mess of the business but he has a big heart and in the end, how important is it really?

Life will go on and I appreciated getting some perspective today. We have spent many hours talking about our spiritual views and sometimes counseling each other. I can't be mad at him even though what happened has put a lot of stress on me.

It is going to work out. I know that now even though I don't know exactly how. Today my fear is gone and I am only concerned with today. When I am my best self I know I can handle anything that comes my way.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hitchhiking - Birds and Attachments

Did you ever wake up and think, how did I get here? I thought about that this morning when I looked down, while driving to work and spotted a caterpillar crawling up my leg. I was swerving on the road trying to get it in an envelope to save it.

This is the second time this season the I have had a critter hitchhike on my pants. When I went on a hike a few weeks ago I looked down and there was an inch worm on my pants. He was an 1/8 long and was able to travel miles in a matter of a few hours. If he was keeping track he would think he was pretty awesome.

But he wasn't because he was focused on just what was directly in front of him. If you are just focused on what is in front of you it is hard to pat yourself on the back or freak out when things have changed.

This is where we are different from the rest of God's creatures. We get attached to everything. Where we live our jobs our friends and even a certain way of thinking.

Why do we do it if these attachments ultimate bring us pain? Is it because we are conscious and feel separate from the rest of the animals? Is it because we have an imagination that tells us to build a fort around our lives to be prepared for every possible change? The weird thing is change comes in a completely different form than we expect. We have braced ourselves for the wrong thing and then we have to scramble anyway.

Can you imagine a bird nesting in the same tree every year and then one year the tree is gone, which I am sure happens all the time. The bird then just can't cope stops flying and calls his therapist. By the way, I love my therapist. No they just move on and find another tree.

I have made my point. I have been under a lot of stress which has manifested in an a brief illness. According to the my guide on illness being related to a spiritual cause it is caused by not being able to let go of something.

Today I am letting go. My partner lost a big job that we really needed. It doesn't really matter to me today I am focused on my own work and my on path. If I have to leave this business then I will and today I am ok with that.

Picture by - Joe Wooster

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Eagles - Promises

I am streaming the Eagle's nest on my computer two babies have hatched and one to go. Just having the sound on my computer while working and writing has calmed me the past hour.

I can't write today. Anything that comes out will be black. I won't feel like this forever, even though it seems like it, when I am in it.

The animals have small really evolved brains and can be satisfied with being unconscious and just living to reproduce. I envy their minimal thought process not worrying about the future or mistakes of the past or why they exist. The down size is a short life and being some other animal's meal. The first I could live with the second would be a little harder.

This too shall pass. The Promises--That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. God, please make it disappear.

Friday, April 1, 2011


These are not my words but they spoke to me today as I try to bring my work family together. The stress is overwhelming for everyone but we all are seeing this from our own perspective.

Centering In Truth

Truth is transformed into power when you dissolve prejudice and make yourself receptive to the world as it really is. Truth's power can be a remarkable force indeed yet is rarer than generally imagined. It can be maintained only by cultivating genuine openness to things as they are, a willingness to see, rather than merely look.

Whenever your inner life is clouded, your influence in the world is under a shadow.

In any debate, the power to perceive the truth in the other side's argument is essential to achieving success.