My Still Unmade Bed

I know this is a long one, but seems memoir is…so here is my write something funny assignment. Class is almost over so hang in with me. And sorry about last weeks lack of a post. It is a another long story..

The stillness of the house made the morning sun feel like a my friend, who in their presence, I naturally slow down and breath deeper. This was one of the weekends I had to myself while Jena stayed with her dad. I was beginning to relish these periodic weekends alone as I became more comfortable in my own company, hearing less from my inner demon that would tell me, with great certainty, that I would never make it on my own. That I would never find anyone to share my life with.  He–yes it’s a male voice–would not stop there. He (me) would expound on why I would spend the rest of my life alone, using a tone of voice that convinced me he knew what he was talking about. The inner criticism who begin with, “you are too picky, you aren’t picky enough, you are too much, too needy, too tall, too scared, too injured, you don’t know how to love,” and end with, “you are a mess, my dear!”

So, in the absence of my nasty self, I planned this staycation retreat weekend. I considered traveling to a bed and breakfast, somewhere lovely with a Victorian four poster, canopied, quilted bed, serving gourmet breakfasts and quiet fields to roam. But my financially frugal inner accountant pursed his–are they all male voices?–lips together, folded his arms firmly across his chest and admonished, “Think again sweetie, you are staying right here, you can’t afford it.” So I stayed home.

I needed time to consider, reflect, renew, and figure a few things out; like what I am going to do with the rest of my life. I let my friends know my plans, that way when they didn’t hear from me or I didn’t answer the phone they wouldn’t think I had fallen into that deep, dark pit I frequently mentioned. I told my daughter the same, but assured her if she really needed me, she could call my cell phone. I shopped for food I love, shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce, fresh asparagus and a great bottle of wine. I picked up the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, a story about a divorced woman redesigning her life.

I was well prepared for my weekend retreat to begin.

I woke leisurely, feeling grateful that I could take this luxurious time out. I was also thankful to be waking alone in the previous marital bed. I knew when I decided to marry, Unknown23-years-ago, I would miss sleeping alone. I always loved that sense of freedom and privacy of being in my own bed, wrapped in the covers, with no one else to consider. I moved slowly, allowing my body to wake as I made my way downstairs to the kitchen to make that first great cup of coffee. As I waited for it to brew, I decided to cover the microwave clock so I could ignore its bright red face insisting on the time. I wanted to hear the voice of my own internal clock this weekend.  After all, isn’t that what a retreat weekend is all about?

As I blindfolded the clock there was a knock on the kitchen door. I turned around, to see my neighbor Kyle standing on the other side of the french doors. Kyle and his family owned a weekend home up the street. I hadn’t known they would be here this weekend. I momentarily resented his intrusion to my quiet movements, but cajoled myself saying, “be nice and there is no escape, he knows you are home.” I opened the door. We did a neighborly shoulder only hug hello. I was still in my morning sweats.

I liked Kyle. I liked his wife and kids too. Our families got together often when they visited. Kyle explained he was here to do some work on their house, Laura and the kids decided to stay home. He said he was on a run and decided to stop in to see how I was fairing after the separation. How thoughtful I mused. We caught up on the kids, his and Laura’s trip to Italy, and my pathetic current circumstance. Even though I had planned to be alone and contemplative, I was comforted that someone had checked in on me.  I was also certain he wouldn’t be staying long.

We finished our coffee — I offered only one cup — and got up off the kitchen stool to rinse my mug in the sink. Kyle came up behind me, presumably to rinse his too, but instead wrapped his arms around my waist pulling me tightly into the front of his body. I tried hard not to feel anything I knew I wasn’t supposed to be feeling. I was speechless. My brain and my mouth were not engaged.

As he held me, he lamented his concerns for his son who had recently started college and was struggling socially and scholastically. Since my ears were working, I listened to what he was saying, while still trying to make sense of his physical contact. It had been a long time since I had needed to decipher another mans intentions. Obviously too long. I naively concluded Kyle must be very upset about his son and be in need of a friendly hug. Nothing else made sense. After all, he was married and our families were friends. I assured myself by he meant nothing by it. As he released me I fell tipsy to one side. I was off balance.

We continued to talk as though this was normal contact for us. I half paid attention to what he was saying, the other half of my attention was listening to my now engaged inner banshee, who was screaming, “What the fuck was that?” This time it was a female voice, a rather outraged female voice.

I’d like to report it ended here. It didn’t. Kyle made it known, in several explicit ways-that even I didn’t miss-that he was at my service. Did I look like I needed to be serviced, I wondered? Was this what I got for ending my marriage…offers from other women’s husbands? Had I misread Kyle’s friendship all these years? I began to question my judgement. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him in. Should I kick him out? I felt like I didn’t know anything any more. I felt scared that maybe I was doomed to be alone, a woman with too many cats — my demon had returned.

I didn’t get mad, I didn’t take action, I was immobilized in my confusion and self doubt.  I couldn’t find my center. Kyle continued to sit on my kitchen stool, sipping the second cup he poured for himself, patiently waiting for me to take him up on his very generous offer.

My insides were tangled between introjects of “be nice” and “men are pigs.” Messages skillfully taught to me by the women in my family. These lessons, distilled in me to their purest form, made it virtually impossible for me to find my way on this retreat morning. This was not the first time I had been caught in the trap of my family’s mixed messages.

Suddenly and without conscious thought, something in me began to straighten. It took me a minute to register just what, but I am thrilled to say it was my backbone….my hackles were up and I was pissed. I grew 2 inches sitting on that stool. I found my voice and told Kyle he was a PIG.

Surprisingly, he didn’t agree. He explained he was not offering to do it just to do some of it. He went on to explain, if we didn’t fuck, he wasn’t technically cheating on Laura. What sophisticated rationale. He did, he explained, have a line he wouldn’t cross.

I began to find this all very funny in its absurdity. I began to recite his logic back to myself, making comic sense of it. Ohhhh, I told myself, my mistake. Why didn’t he make this clear from his first grope? In his world his wife won’t mind if we retire upstairs, to my still unmade bed, and roll around for a while. I was astonished at the sincerity with which he made his offer.

I told him I would accept his very thoughtful proposition. But…only if Laura agreed with his definition of faithful. My demon and banshee stood down; they knew I had this now.

I handed him the phone.

He rinsed his cup and left.

: )

waxseal2 

 

 

An unanswered question

This weeks assignment was to write about something unresolved in my life. It had to have urgency and tension.

Tom suggested I post something “light” this week as my last two posts have been “heavy”. I didn’t know if I agreed with him or not, but in the end decided to share my “dark” assignment because I worked so fucking hard on it. And I’m all worn out…

So here it is…the saga continues…

I recoil at the question that invades my day. I close my eyes willing it away, but it inevitably returns, like a puppy undeterred by my avoidance to get the attention it needs.  I have wrestled all my life with my need to belong to my family. The reality is that no matter what role I play to please, I just don’t fit. So if I don’t make the trek home when mom dies, I will be cast as the deserter. But going could be emotional suicide.

The last time I made the journey east across the Delaware was for the dual purposes of following my brother Rob’s edict to sell the family home and to visit mom in the assisted living facility he unilaterally decided to move her into. My plan was to meet with the realtor, visit mom, take her to lunch, drive her around the neighborhood she grew up in, then head west-putting a safe distance between me and my only sibling. I intended to slip in and out of NJ, under my brother’s radar, like a CIA Ninja.

The realtor was referred to me by Andy, my hairdresser and recently licensed real estate agent. He said he had asked for someone that would sell for a long distant client and wasn’t afraid of family ghosts. Debbie Leigh, about my age, with a slight NJ accent and a warm smile, took the job.

Debbie liked the house and was excited she was to sell it. She seemed unfazed as I filled in some of the family dynamics. As we sat in the living room, still full with the furniture of my childhood, Rob, unsuspectedly, blew in through the front door. His puffed up chest, reddened face and clipped speech stopped us in mid sentence. The air was sucked out of my lungs-like a baby in a wind storm. I smelled danger. I wondered how he knew we were there, at that specific time, on that particular weekend. What tracking devise did he have? My paranoia rose in direct proportions to his hostility.

He announced to the room that he had rented the house beginning next month…so selling it would not be an option. I was absolutely silent and my body was still. I learned at an early age that if he doesn’t see me, he will leave me alone. Debbie spoke through the tension, like an experienced family therapist, offering a dual plan of renting while showing the house.

Later, when Rob found me alone, searching for my misplaced sunglasses and car keys, he insisted I knew he had rented the house and went on to conclude I was trying to undermine his plans. I told him I didn’t know. This only infuriated him more. The poison in his voice turned my legs to jello and the saliva left my mouth.

I headed toward my car begging my legs to carry me. As I crossed the lawn I got a whiff of freshly cut grass despite the snow covered ground, an olfactory reminder of a childhood memory. Adolescent Rob shoving grass clippings into my elementary school shirt and pants. I remembered how he would wrestle me to the ground, pin my arms with his legs and sit heavily on my rib cage. I couldn’t breathe or move, then. I was determined to save myself now.

I reached the car. As I opened the car door I felt my right shoulder spasm. My body reminded me of the many times my arm was pulled back behind my back, yanking my hand to the opposite shoulder blade, until I fell to my knees. He wanted to hear me say, Uncle. I always did. I hated him for hurting me so badly. I hated myself for surrendering to the pain.

He didn’t start out mean, at least I don’t think he did. He just didn’t want a sibling. When mom was still in the hospital, after my birth, she called Rob. He was staying with her mother, our grandmother. Rob tearfully asked mom if she had had a baby. My new mom told her almost 4 year old, No. That response sealed my fate and secured her lack of protection of me. He hated me and distrusted her, and I never felt wanted by, or safe with, either of them. I was a kid on a hot tin roof.

I have little defense against his life long bullying, despite the years of therapy I have spent on it. I inevitably end up bloodied and self recriminating for putting myself in harms way, again. So I ask myself, what if I didn’t go to mom’s funeral? What if I stayed where I am safe, finally refusing to cross the state line? Mom and Rob have not been an integral part of my life for well over 30 years. I designed it that way and they didn’t seem to notice. So in an ‘everyday way’ I will not miss mom after she passes. I will not hear myself say, “Oh I should call and tell mom this,” or “ I’ll talk to mom, she’ll understand.”

But deep inside, behind my belly button where we were once joined,  there is a little girl who will still be looking for her mom. When mom dies so does my hope of finding her.

With Love,
waxseal2

 

 

 

Bubble Poppers

I met a woman at a party last night. We were introduced because we were both therapists. Well, actually, she is a clinical psychologist. A differentiation that seemed quite important to her as she corrected several people that lumped up together as therapists. We all stood corrected.

We were also introduced because we both have entrepreneurial minds that invent interesting projects and business’s.

So I told her about my blog. I confided my hope to be named one of the top 100 women bloggers. I divulged my book ideas. She listened with seeming interest. She is, after all, a therap….psychologist.

When I was finished spilling my guts she began to point out how ridiculous my ideas were. She did, she really did! I was expecting…sounds like you have really big plans. How does that make you feel? I’m curious about…You know, the useful things therapists say. Instead, in her best patronizing voice she asked if I knew how many bloggers there are in the world trying to do the same thing? How the chances of my making any money through my writing was absurd.

If they hadn’t run out of beer I would excused myself to get a bottle.

My spiritual teacher, Christine Page, talks about Bubble Poppers. People that deflate the dreams of another. There are many explanations of why someone does this.

*A motherly attempt to keep someone safe from a harm they may not foresee-I confess I am guilty of this with my kids.

*A perceived threat to the bubble poppers ego-ugh, I have done this too.

*Meanness-I hope I haven’t done this.

*A belief they (the bubble popper) know what is RIGHT and TRUE. I think my psychologist not-friend falls into this category.

As we left the party I told Tom what had been said. He offered go beat her up.

Instead I said something that surprised me. Has this ever happen to you? You hear yourself say something so profound that you wonder where or who it came from. I said to Tom with a certainty I didn’t feel moments earlier, “I think the universe is testing me. It/She is trying to see how committed I am to my dreams. I have to know if I can hold my self in the face of a wind storm(bag)?”

Who said that?

Mom’s Who Do To Much

The other day a coworker asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving.

nice gloves

 

“Cooking.”

 

She asked if I usually cook Thanksgiving. It struck me as an odd question. Who else would cook?…I am the mom…after all.

 

“Yes, I have cooked, give or take a year, for the past 27 years.”

 

Her eyes got big, “Wow, I never cook Thanksgiving.” Now I was intrigued. She is a mom too. How did she pulled that off?

 

She explained that the first time she cooked a turkey it wasn’t fully cooked when she served it, so her family didn’t want her to be responsible for the next years, or any year after thats’ holiday meal.

 

Brilliant. Why had’t I thought of that? I had, after all, accidentally burned the first shirt my then husband asked me to iron resulting in his never asking again. I had the paradigm. I saw how it worked. I didn’t take the hint.

 

Later that same day, when rescheduling a client, I offered a session the week of Thanksgiving. She declined explaining she will be too busy preparing for Thanksgiving. She was cooking.

 

I thought of the many Thanksgiving weeks that I worked in Pittsburgh while living in Chalk Hill. An hour and a half commute that I returned home from on Wednesday night around 6 or 7. I had made the stuffing, nut bread, and cranberry bread and shopped the weekend before so all that needed to be done to get dinner on the table in the next 20 hours was par boil, peel and make the white sauce for the creamed onions; peel, boil and mash the potatoes; prepare and boil the green beans to toss into the sautéed garlic and chopped shallots; whip the heavy cream into perfect decadence; put the leaf in the table and set it for 8-10 friends and family; panic because every year I seemed to forget the cornucopia themed paper napkins leaving me with Scott Every Days to design the Martha Stewart wannabe table; oh yeah, stuff and cook the turkey.

Apple and pumpkin pie was deliciously prepared by my then Husband. I never learned how to make pies, so he did. (Hint, hint.) Kathleen brought the sweet potato casserole. Heidi another dessert and/or vegetable.

 

This is what I expected of myself. And soon it became what my family expected also. I  trained them well. It never occurred to me that it was too much to do or that I could do less. Especially when working a full week. Out of town no less.

 

It is Thanksgiving again with Christmas right around the corner. And you know I am no easier on myself at Christmas. I usually begin asking myself, sometime the morning of December 26th, why I do this to myself year after year, concluding with my traditional New Years Resolution promising not do so much in the new year.

 

I do it for other reasons too. I do it for the sake of tradition, so my kids have endearing holiday memories, because my mom cooked Mama B’s cornbread stuffing and creamed onions, although she did not work outside of the home and the tension at the well set table of china and sterling usually made dinner a fast and furious event, because when all the preparations are complete and the people I love most in the world are sitting around the table, I feel sweetly and fully blessed.

 

Yesterday I was offering to teach Jena how to make her great grandmothers Alabama corn bread stuffing. (Perhaps unconsciously passing the torch…PLEASE.) Jena said she was planning on being one of those people that never learned to cook. (She does seem to date guys that love to cook.) I heard myself judgmentally ask,”How do you think that will be for your kids?” My question shamed her into retracting her statement saying she was only kidding.

 

As I retold this exchange to Tom I owned how sexist it was of me to assume holiday traditions will be her responsibility.

 

So how does a mom do it? Create tradition, if that is important to her, and not exhaust herself in the process? Ask for more help? Do less? Care less? It is a labor of love that can end in tired resentment.

 

I would love to hear your ideas. How do you do it?

 

And Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

What Are You Made Of?

Remember the story of the 3 little pigs?

 

The first little pig built his house with straw and the wolf blew it down. The second little pig built his house with sticks and the wolf had his way with that house too. The third little pig built his house with brick and for all his huffing and puffing the wolf couldn’t blow the house down.

 

Sitting with a client the other day this fairy tale popped into my head. I have come to trust these little “pop ins”…they usually offer some wisdom I would never have come up with on my own.

 

We were talking about her sense of her self. How comfortable she is being her? How strongly she can advocate for herself? How well acquainted she is with herself ?Basically, how strongly can she stand (with herself) in the face of high wind?

 

That is when “the pigs” popped in.

 

When I consider of my own sense of my self using this metaphor of being a house-a structure that holds me-ideally it(I) would be well built. I know for myself, my friends and the women I work with, this is not always the case. Our houses (sense of self, hearts, confidence) are all too often and too easily blown to bits, straw and twigs flying in all directions.

 

 I have been watching episodes of the Big C on NetFlixs. It is a story of a woman, Cathy, who has cancer. In the episode we watched last night Cathy was hired as the high school swim coach, despite the principals concerns she couldn’t do the job because of her cancer. As the new coach, Cathy took charge. She changed practice warm ups, team strategies and confronted an arrogant, undermining swim team dad. As I watched her stand up to him, I felt her belief in herself as a coach. I was impressed. I noticed I sat straighter on the couch. She was made of brick.

 

As the episode continued, and the plot thickened, Cathy and her husband got crabs because their son slept with a prostitute in their bed (too gross to think about on sooo many levels). Thanks to facebook, and the sons now x girlfriend, the word got out. This was all the arrogant dad needed to have Cathy fired as the swim coach.

 

The scene unfolds as Cathy walked into the pool area; clip board in hand, whistle around her neck, only to see the principal, the dad with all the other parents and her team waiting for her. Cathy is told by the principal she is being fired for putting the girls at risk of getting crabs. I could feel myself cave in for her. I imagined myself as her and could see myself slink out of the gym, find my way home and crawl under the covers. I could feel my shame for her. I was made of straw.

 

Cathy, brick house that she is, doesn’t collapse into her shame, instead she confronts them on the improbability of their accusation and threatens them with a law suit if they try to fire the “woman with cancer.” She ends her self absolution by saying she is taking her team, whoever is still on it, for a run. With that she turns, clip board close to her chest, whistle swinging and out she walks out of the gym. Last scene-she is running on alone on the track. One by one the girls on her team fall in behind her.

 

Now I know this is a well scripted TV series, but I was moved…right out from under my emotional hiding place…announcing to myself and the space between myself and the TV, “I want to be like her when I grow up!”

 

To not move into shame when someone huffs and puffs at me. 

 

To feel my house made of bricks and to stand my ground.

 

To laugh I the face of the big bad wolf…and then take a run.

 

Oh yeah, I don’t run. I’ll take a brisk walk instead. Anyone want to fall in along side of me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook and Family Death

I knew he was terminally ill. My X husband and I had a few touching emails about his dads diagnosis. How was he? Was his dad in pain? How was his mom? We gently recalled some details of my dad’s death 19 years ago. This was pretty much the first time my X and I had referenced our past with tenderness. I felt hopeful that all would be well between us at our son’s wedding next July.

 

So three weeks later, I gasped when I saw, in my email inbox, a cryptic Facebook post from my daughter about life and relationships, ending with, “RIP grandpa.”

 

For some reason whenever my daughter does anything on her Facebook page I get an email about it. In some ways I like receiving these frequent slices into her life. I feel included. Sometimes, however, it is as they say, “TMI.” Now I am not a Facebook aficionado so I don’t know how this happens or how to stop it. I do plan to learn though-for two reasons. One, because I was told it is necessary to use Facebook to draw readers to my blog. Secondly because I was told if you keep learning new computer skills it helps prevent Alzheimer’s.

 

I clicked on the link on the email to get the whole story. I read the comments from her friends. I looked at the endearing picture of her and her grandfather, arms around each other, cheeks pressed together smiling for the camera. Lower on the page there was a picture, that I remember taking, of Jena and her grandpa when she was young. They are facing each other, looking directly at one another, Ed’s hands on her sides stabilizing her. A bit of drool on Jena’s chin… It has always been one of my favorites.

 

I was in shock. Ed had died. I always liked Ed. Unfortunately, in laws are often a causality of divorce. Our divorce was no exception. Memories of Ed’s warm hugs and sage advise to me when my dad threatened not come to our wedding flooded my thoughts.

 

I didn’t know what to do. What is the protocol here? What is the social media etiquette in this case? Is there any? I read through the many comments of condolences and wondered, “Should I comment too?” Dear Jena, So sorry to hear about your grandfathers death. Love Mom. How weird would that be?

 

I felt like an eavesdropper.

 

I felt hurt.

 

I was really confused about what to do.

 

My rule is when in doubt…do nothing. I decided to follow my own advice until I could make some sense of this. I talked with my friends Debbie and Susan and they agreed. (They don’t even have Facebook pages.)

 

The next day my X husband emailed me telling me his dad had passed. His telling me directly seemed to grant me permission to know. I then knew what to do, I called my kids. Strange how that worked. Or at least used to work. Bad news was passed from the family to an inner circle of specific people which they then shared with the larger community. It seems social media is changing that. At least in this case.

This all makes me wonder about how we use Facebook. On one hand, this was Jena’s way to share her news. She was able to tell her 566 “friends,” in one easily typewritten sentence, the death of her grandfather. In return, probably instantaneously, she could receive heartfelt warmth and sympathy. Instant compassion.

 

On the other hand is Facebook the acceptable way to inform others the intimacies of one’s life? Does social media replace deliberate sharing to a chosen few? Does It afford, in some cases, a welcomed distance when sharing difficult news?

 

What are the social mores of social media? Are there any? Maybe we can come up with some. Any ideas?

 

I have one:

 

1. Call your mother concerning any death in your family before posting it on Facebook.

Comparing Yourself to Others Never Ends Well

Spending the week in Shangri-La was rejuvenating. The view from every deck and window, including the window next to the toilet

looking to the right off of the deck

in my bathroom, overlooked marsh lined channels leading out to the ocean where fishing boats dotted the water early each morning. The house was comfortably elegant with dark wood wainscoting, hard wood floors, comfy furniture and an eclectic smattering of master pieces hung with distinction next to Debbie’s quirky sense of decorating humor. This included schools of fish, made of different metals, clay, and wood, swimming mostly in the same direction, except for a few free thinking swimmers going the opposite way, arranged on two adjoining walls in a bathroom, jars of wonderful old marbles, interesting woven baskets holding porcupine quills, clay sculptures with imaginative faces…you get the idea. When I wasn’t admiring the view, or lost in conversation with my dear friends, I was amused by the subtle humor tucked into little nooks just waiting to be noticed.

 

And to the left toward the ocean

Spending the week in Shangri-La also had a dark side, and mine showed up big time. I began comparing my life circumstances to that of my friends. I tormented myself with, “Where did I go wrong? What if I had gone to a better college?  Maybe followed a different career path.”

 

Then I moved into what I call Cinderella questions. These have to do with a man rescuing me. “Should I have married a rich man, someone who could have provided paradise?” And if so, “How come I didn’t?” My answers were not pretty. My inferiority was in full bloom. She straight-out informed me that I could never have landed a rich man. I am not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. (I’ll end here if you don’t mind; this is depressing.)

 

I thought about my middle class family of origin and how I learned limits. How not to expect more than there was. How to be happy with what you had. These are lessons I respect but as I wandered the rooms of this magnificent home, I began to challenge them. What if I expected more? Wanted more? What if being dissatisfied led me to more? Would this be my house?

 

The onslaught of questions left me uncertain of me. I was knocked off my center. However I knew, from past encounters with my darkness, that these shadow sightings are often a good thing…in the end. I trusted if I could stay present to myself long enough, listened to my self judgements until they were hoarse and was honest about this predatory side of me, I would land back on my feet with a greater love and trust for myself. (At least that is what I told myself.)

 

This was risky business-listening to me compare myself to others. I noticed how comparing myself never ends well. When I compare myself to people who have more I feel less than and when I compare myself to people who have less I feel guilty. It is a lose/lose proposition.

 

Returning home to my no longer newlywed husband I find myself feeling satisfied as I look around my surroundings. I feel at home in our space. I love our 7’ x 9’ deck overlooking enough trees that one might think it is woods, but it’s not. I like the simplicity. I welcome the familiarity. And I adore the man I picked, and would pick all over again.

 

So perhaps in the end it is all good. Both Shangri-La and middle class are wonderful gifts to be fully enjoyed.

 

It is comparing yourself to others that limits what you can love, mainly in yourself.

The Friends I Paid For

 

I’m on Cape Cod. My first time here was in 4th grade. I was invited to join my childhood friend, Carol Dowd, and her family for their two-week vacation. I was miserably homesick for the first week–then fell in love with the Cape the second. Provincetown is one of my favorite places in the world. I haven’t been to that many worldly places, but I suspect P’town will always remain a top pick.

 

I am here to be with my very dear friends Debbie and Susan. I met them in 1994 when we all showed up at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland for a two-year training. I call them my $6000.00 friends. That was the amount of the tuition. They were and are well worth every penny…a great investment!

 

Debbie invited Susan and me to come stay with her in Orleans and teach at the Cape Cod Gestalt International Study Center. After considering the offer for a nano-second I said a giant, “YES, I would LOVE to!”

 

The weekend began with Susan’s workshop, Ultimate Self-Care for Women. It was transformative. Susan’s gentle interest and keen eye helped the 6 of us unfold our internal mysteries using meditation, drawing and journaling. I re-remembered I hold everything I need to be the person I want to be. Each time I return home to this knowing I feel relief with a bit of a challenge mixed in. Sometimes I would rather believe the next book I read, class I take, or therapy session I have, will hold my answers. They may all support my return to myself, but what I need is me. Showing up over and over and over for myself. With myself.

 

I also reconnected with the awareness that when I make a judgement I stop hearing or listening to the other person. Hmmm.

 

And I came to the question, “What if this-life-is all just one big experiment?” (Just?)  If so, perhaps there is truly, no right way or wrong way. What if the experiment of life is similar to Edison’s thoughts about his failed light bulb experiments…we now know a thousand ways the light bulb (or life) doesn’t work.

 

As I write this to you I am “retreat relaxed,” sipping red wine at the kitchen island as Susan and Debbie prepare dinner. I am aware that although I am physically hungry, I am so full; with myself, with 3 days of sharing in a group of honest, brave women and with my love for these two women in front of me.

 

I am at home…

 

PS.

On the lighter side…I want to share with you my journey from Boston to the Cape, only a 25-minute plane ride over water in a very small plane. As I walked across the runway, with my 6 fellow passengers, to what looked like a toy plane, it occurred to me that small planes can be dangerous. John Kennedy flashed into my head and I began to consider an alternative mode of travel.

This is Iris. She has NO FEAR….

 

And then I saw Iris. And if Iris could do it I could too.

 

So, I said a prayer and climbed in…

 

As we ascended to a “comfortable cruising altitude”, low enough to see big fish in the water, I thought of all of you, dear readers and how you might find this scene very funny. So I distracted myself from my worry by taking a few pictures to share with you. And I thought if you found my camera floating in the Boston Harbor you would know my last thoughts were of you.

 

Here they are:

I don’t know if my hips will fit through that door…

Shoot. I can’t get my last picture to load onto the post.  So I will tell you about it because next to Iris, it is my favorite. It is a picture of the planes air conditioning system. The pilot is holding his window open…

 

I Love My Life

Before I lived in Pittsburgh I said to myself, “When I live in Pittsburgh, I am going to go to meditation classes, ti chi, and yoga classes, I’m going to sit in coffee shops with friends, go to art openings, eat fun food in interesting neighborhoods, and take some art classes.”

 

I have lived in Pittsburgh for over 4 years now. All the activities I couldn’t wait to take advantage of are right at my finger tips. I have done a few, sporadically, but not to the extent I imagined. Why? I have no excuses. I take that back…I have plenty of excuses, “I’m too tired, I don’t have time, parking is too hard, I have to cross a bridge (did I just say that? I must really be a Pittsburgher), I don’t want to commit to every week.”

 

Why do I do this? Why do I talk myself out of the things I dream of? Do you do this too?

 

As I sit with that question I come up with several versions of viable answers. They all lead to… Continue reading

SHUT UP…REALLY

I started a 21 day meditation challenge offered free by the Chopra Center.

Today’s meditation was on stress. It is day 4.

The meditation teacher, a soft spoken woman, asks, “Are you feeling a sense of worry, agitation, or frustration? (Now that you mention it, I am.) Release those feelings, thoughts, and sensations. (Okay, how?) Let them float away, easily and effortlessly.(Come again?).” She then invited me to sit in my silence created by my ability to let my stress go easily and effortlessly.

“Really?”

“If I could do that, easily and effortlessly, I wouldn’t be listening to this meditation.” I sat in silent judgment, irritation and frustration with this woman and the meditation. I tightened my butt and thighs, squared my jaw, and trapped my breath in my chest.

“Was she serious? This is not helpful at all. At least give me some ideas how to let my stress fucking float away!”

“Really?”

As I noticed my outrage, I felt it in every part of me and I immediately felt tired. I felt tired of me. Tired of my rant, of my indignation, I ran out of steam and just shut up.

When I shut up, I found my silence. I began to relax my butt, my jaw, and take a deeper breath.

A lesson well learned.