Be careful what you meditate for…

Sunday morning I listened to Christine Page’s Island Of Memories meditation. She guided me to an island to meet wise elders that had been waiting for me. There was a gift from them on a table. She said it was an object that belonged to me but that I had not seen in this lifetime. I was guided to connect with this item and to learn from it.

The message from my object was to find my determination, clarity, voice and certainty. I liked this message. I liked the way it made me feel. I felt determined, clear, vocal and certain.

At the end of the meditation Christine suggested I journal my findings. I knew if I took the time to journal I would further delay my much coveted first-cup-of-Sunday-morning-coffee. But I have trusted Christine for many years and I knew myself. As clear as the details were in that moment, this afternoon I would be asking myself, “What were those four words?” (In fact, as I write this 1 hour later I can only remember determined and clear, I had to look in my journal to find the other two.)

So I pulled out my journal and wrote.

Those of you that journal know the phenomenon of when your hand writes something before your brain registers it as a thought. That is what happened. I wrote the details of the attributes. Then wrote, “Find determination, clarity, voice and certainty in everything that I do.”

Initially I missed the nuanced difference in this statement. I was in my familiar, exhaustive search of finding the activities I am determined, clear, vocal, and certain about. “Is IT my writing that I haven’t done in over 6 months. Is IT furniture painting that I just don’t seem to make time for? Is IT my relationships which usually win my time without a thought? Is IT my work? Or…is IT all the things I tell myself I should be doing. A Tai Chi Class? Yoga? Qigong? Cleaning out the garage?”.

After racking myself silly with, “What is IT?” my self preservation lovingly stepped in, as she always does, and conveniently helped me forget what I was looking for…or was that my age? Either way I was relieved, happily distracted, and off to make my coffee.

My morning routine didn’t seem to change much. I did move a bit more slowly, taking time to notice my grandmothers plates as I emptied the dishwasher, looking deliberately at the different patterns, saying out loud to am empty kitchen, “Each one is prettier than the next.” I felt my love for these plates. I did light some candles, turn on Sunday morning Baroque, and spent a deliberate moment admiring the Stargazer Lilies on my dining room table.

As I sat down coffee in hand, certain I was sitting to write because yesterday I promised myself I would, I felt my determination. As I wondered what the hell I would write, I felt my clarity and voice and began this story.

Half way through, while searching for the spelling of a word, I accidentally deleted the post. I searched and searched for a way to bring it back. I was determined! My Help bar told me coldly told me,You can’t undo this action.

Really? My Self passed before my eyes. All the ways I move on from this kind frustration. I can start the laundry. It’s Heidi’s birthday I can call her and catch up. I can take the Christmas decorations down…yes they are still up. I could go for a walk.

Or…I could bring my determination, clarity, voice and certainty to this project, as I had been guided to do, and begin again. I sat for a LONG moment, fingers on the keyboard, trying to recapture my pithy, funny, thoughtful first draft.

I grudgingly started over. With each sentence my reluctance finding her voice, her certainty, her determination, and her clarity.

Distraction is easier. Sometimes.

Listening to and following guidance is not easier, but, it is satisfying. Every single time.

 

With love,
waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luv Ya

It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s casual. “Luv ya,” I call over my shoulder as I head out the door.

I notice when I choose this abbreviated endearment to express my love. I notice when someone chooses to say to me. I feel a bit empty. Not necessarily bad empty, just empty. Like eating fat free ice cream. It’s fine. It looks like ice cream. It’s cold. It’s just not that filling.

Even if I formalize it a bit more by saying, “Love you,” my emptiness lingers. I feel the missing “I.”

Try it yourself. Say, Love you. Now say, I Love you. Do you notice a difference?

I do. I feel me when I use “I” and I feel you when you say “I”. (DId that make sense? Hope so. I hope so.) When I say, “I,” I am owning what I say. I am in my words. I am in me. I am holding myself accountable. I said that. I meant that. And you know it.

Anytime I drop “I” from my sentence it changes the fat content of my message. “Miss you.”  “Understand.”  “Sorry.”

Recently, before heading out to do some shopping, I stopped at our local diner for a late breakfast. Two eggs over easy, bacon, no toast. Two pancakes. My favorite. A little protein to modify the effects of the sugar and white flour high/crash of the pancakes. I sat at the counter with the other single diners enjoying my urban life.

There was a young man sitting alone at the end of the counter. He was hard not to notice. He was not using his inside voice. His amplified banter with the waitress distracted me from my book. I wanted him to be quiet.

At one point his girlfriend texted him. Maybe his wife, but I hope not. He apparently was late for something they had planned and she was wondering where he was. He reported this loudly and jovially as he shoved a large fork-full of his hungry-man breakfast into his mouth.Unknown-1

After he swallowed, he shared his antidote for an angry girlfriend. He had clearly used it many times.  “Luv ya honey.” He was very proud of himself. He had the formula. “It works every time,” he confidently confided to the entire diner. “That’s all I need to say and she will be fine.” He went on eating and enjoying the company of the waitress.

I thought how lucky it was for me to hear since I had begun writing this post and wasn’t sure where to go with it. Now I knew. I also thought, how unlucky for this girlfriend to be taken in by manipulative words that sound like I Love You, but I imagine didn’t feel like it.

Perhaps that is the litmus test. Regardless of the I, or lack there of, do I feel loved when you say it to me?

Likewise, do I feel loving when I am calling over my shoulder my many variations of those 3 simple words? Do I mean it as a perfunctory sentiment? Do I mean it at all? Am I offering all the fat or 2%?

Just something to think about over breakfast…since I couldn’t concentrate on my book.

XO

 
waxseal2

 

 

 

I fell in love yesterday

Yesterday Tom and I went antiquing.

We headed to Sewickley. Tom said he knew of some shoppes there. Turns out he didn’t. We drove past the only place that had stuff spilling out of it’s doors, the word Antiques plastered across its front, but because it wasn’t in Sewickley and it wasn’t the place he was thinking about and it was on the other side of the road and he would have had to slow the car down to turn around, we didn’t stop, we continued to Sewickley.

“Okay.”

We walked up one side of the main street Sewickley and down the other. No antique stores. We did, however, find a quaint outdoor cafe to get a bite of lunch. We also found Ideas Vintage Market.

I walked in and was transported to France. The furniture was works of art. A turquoise distressed rocker that I am sure has, or will soon, rock someone’s baby to sleep. French white dressers, benches, and tables. A secretary, distressed in light grey and white, with the softest pink painted inside the glass doors. I couldn’t get enough. I walked slowly by each piece, caressing them, admiring them, imaging the home it would live in.

I was smitten.

I have, in the past, painted furniture; Jena’s bedroom set bought from a WVU grad, small flea market tables, benches, adirondack chairs, even brooms. It was fun and a great way to buy cheap pieces and turn them into something fresh. Give them a new personality. But these pieces, I so tenderly touched at Ideas, were more than just refreshed, these pieces were transformed.

I realized I was holding my breath. I was awestruck.

Judith, the owner, came over and introduced herself. She explained that she opened the shop yesterday and that she paints the pieces herself. Furthermore, the row of big, white, tables in the center of the room were there for the furniture painting classes she is going to teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“CLASSES? I can come learn how to paint pieces like this?”

“Yes.”

My mind was going a mile a minute. I could paint our bedroom furniture. The secretary in the living room. My rocker. The lamp. I could find some cheap end tables on Craig’s List, recreate them, and save myself the price of brand new, french white, distressed, Arhaus, Restoration Hardware, or Pottery Barn pieces selling for $900.

Tom overheard us. Slowly he approached. I noticed he wasn’t fondling any of the furniture as he passed by it.

“Is there anything you won’t paint?” he asked Judith. I knew where this was going. He is from the tribe that doesn’t believe in painting wood. Wood is wood and should look like wood, is his motto; unless it is bad or ugly wood, or my furniture-which he doesn’t like anyway.

Judith had his number. She showed him the pieces that she hadn’t painted, either because of the detail in the wood, the grain, or an inlay. She had some of his tribal blood in her too. He was soothed. Temporarily.

We left the store with Judith’s number so I could text her pictures of pieces I wanted to get her opinion on and with plans to attend a class. I jabbered all the way home about the money we could save given my creative license.

I spent the better part of today scouring Craig’s List for end tables. I had found a pair yesterday for $425 at a place in the Strip that I was considering, until I found Ideas Vintage Market. Now I was on a mission to rehab something. For really cheap.

As I was scouring, I was also texting Judith with pictures of the bedroom furniture. I didn’t dare send pictures of the secretary, Tom had made it quite clear on the way home that his grandmothers piece was OFF LIMITS.

“Okay. Okay.”

I excitedly told him Judith LOVED our bedroom furniture. Since it was a family piece from his mom I knew he would be pleased. Judith texted that maybe we just wanted an antique lace linen to throw over them, but what color was I thinking. I excitedly shared all this with Tom.

“PATRICIA, PLEASE find SOMETHING TO DO,” he admonished from his place on the couch.

Have you ever been so insulted and cracked up at the same time? Had he just said that? Like he was a 1950’s executive, home from a long days work, enjoying his martini but having to move one more ceramic knic-nac his bored housewife made at ceramics class in order to put his drink down.

“OHHH. You didn’t just say that.”

A couple of days ago Heidi told me she thinks I should get a dog. She said I needed something to take care of since I am still having empty-nest-postpartum-wedding- depression symptoms. I told her I really didn’t want a dog, and how funny she should say that because Landon thought I should get a fish.

They are right. I need to have something to transform.

I am going to paint some bad ass furniture.

waxseal2

 

 

PS I found some end table to love

I am so excited I can't sleep

I am so excited I can’t sleep

 

To speak or not to speak, that is the question…

Last night I told a friend that she had lost too much weight and wasn’t looking good. That her diet and exercise plan had gone too far.

Several years ago, after I had lost 25 pounds, a friend told me a similar thing. She said I was looking frail. I was as incredulous then as my friend was last night. She didn’t see herself as too thin. Neither did I.

I loved my size 6, flat stomach, easy to fit into any outfit, body. I felt sexy, powerful, in control. I did miss my boobs, however. I was never what you would call a well-endowed woman at my almost-B-cup-bra size, except for when I was pregnant and breastfeeding which doesn’t count because everything else was so big it was all proportional. But, in my minus 25-pound-stealth-self my girls had reduced to their adolescent AA bra size. I figured it was a small price to pay…no pun intended.

Saying the hard thing to a friend takes courage and love. It is a bittersweet gift to offer. When Trudy said it to me, I felt loved and trusted. She believed in me and in the solidity of our friendship to say the difficult truth.

So what do we not say?

And why don’t we say it?

Certainly I worry my loved one will be hurt, or mad, or reject me.

What I said last night came from a place of love and concern. There was no judgment or hidden agenda I was working out. When that is true, I feel safer saying the tough thing. When that is true it is also easier to hear the hard thing, as happened with Trudy. I felt no guile from her.

What I have learned, the hard way, is to keep my mouth shut when I feel I am harboring ulterior motives. That never goes well. The other person always seems to sense my duplicity. And as loudly as I may defend my honor, we both know the truth. My intentions were not honorable.

That is, perhaps, the question to be asked when choosing to speak or withhold. What are my motives? Am I speaking from a place of compassion and concern? I once read that it is our responsibility to speak from our hearts. That we cannot control how the other hears or receives what we say, but we should be sure where our message came from in ourselves.

I know I feel much better about myself, even if the other is hurt, when I am clear I meant no harm. That being said, I may still need to make amends despite my best intentions. It is my responsibility to do that also.

Saying the hard thing is an act of courage and love. It is also the true measure of a strong relationship.

I also told Tom last night that he couldn’t wear his plaid shorts and printed shirt, even if the blue’s matched. I did have ulterior motives, we both knew it, accepted it and laughed about it; concurring that at our age, mismatched hipster-dom simply looks like old age.
waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I deserve it … NO… I want it……

In celebration of my 100th post…and because I don’t have anything new ready to share with you this week…I am rerunning my first post from November 5, 2010. I can’t believe how fast time has gone by or that I have stuck with this for so long. I am impressed with myself : )

I recently bought some new furniture. Okay, I recently bought a lot of new furniture, at a rather expensive local store. Something I don’t do, I shop for bargains, get it cheap, purchase incrementally. But this day I decided I had slid off my fiancé’s leather couch for the last time. I hopped in the car, his car- a cute red convertible- something else I don’t do because I am afraid to scratch, bump or bruise it. I went by myself, another novelty, we usually we shop for major purchases together, but today he wanted to watch the masters and I wanted to shop in the spirit of endless possibilities. It worked for both of us. I stopped for a latte along the way, feeling much younger than I am as my hair flew in a million directions in the open topped car. I didn’t allow myself to think about the knots I would attempt to brush through tonight. I arrived at the store, was greeted by Sherri, a very friendly sales woman who quickly became my new best friend.

I found a great couch; over sized, on sale and I even though I picked the most expensive house couchfabric to cover it in, the price didn’t go up. This was my day! So, it only made sense to now find a matching chair, which I did, with an ottoman. Unfortunately the fabric I picked did increase the price, but I had saved so much on the couch, right? Feeling very satisfied with my purchases, the thought occurred to me-this may be a good time to consider looking for a new dining room table.

When I moved into my fiancés home in November we combined our collection of “lifetime, kid functional, great flea market finds” furniture. I guess you could call the look….ugly. It didn’t take me long to find the perfect pedestal table. And it was being discontinued, so the price was great! How blessed am I?

I returned home and tentatively shared my expedition with Tom. He didn’t quite follow my excitement, but he is smart enough and old enough to know better than to say…”You did what?” Plus we agreed I was buying, so….what could he say? Other than, “you really want to get rid of my leather couch and chair?”

As time set in I panicked, I asked myself “What have I done?” I felt guilty. It was too much. Who do I think I am? I spoke with some friends who assured me I got great deals and it is all really good furniture…as only good women friend will do…and they said, “After all, you deserve it!”

Really? I deserve it? What does that mean? I had been noticing for awhile that women say to themselves or to a friend, “You deserve it”! When I heard this spoken to me I wondered what I had done to deserve it? Had I been really, really good, worked really, really hard, done “it” right? Is that why I deserve it? What if I hadn’t overachieved, does that mean I don’t deserve it?

As I thought about this, I concluded that we tell ourselves and others “They deserve it” because it is a very clever detour around feeling our guilt of wanting and getting! I watch my women friends and clients work harder and never feel good enough or deserving. I see us care more about others and care less about ourselves. I began to get curious. What if I felt my wants, regardless of what I have done, accomplished, or achieved? Could I let myself befriend my desire, know it intimately, inside and out, like a treasured lover? Can I tolerate feeling my desire, as well as, the possibility of being disappointed?. What if I want it and can’t afford it or my partner isn’t in agreement with my wants. Do I chose to ignore my desire so I never feel my disappointment? Like the saying, “Blessed are those that expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.” I think this is convenient… for awhile… but exhausting and soul robbing in the end.

I bought this furniture because I wanted it. Plain and simple. I want my new home to welcome me at the door with furnishing I adore and can fall into at the end of the day. I want to feel proud of the home we have created and welcome friends in to share our loved creation. I wanted it, I could make it happen, this time, and for that I feel extremely grateful. I may also deserve it, but that is not why I bought it. I trusted myself, my desire, felt it and loved it into action.

With love
waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

Birth Announcement

I think I may have mentioned a while ago that I am rebranding Off the Couch. Did I or did I just dream it? Sometimes my dream world and my awake world get mixed up. Like last night I dreamt Tom asked me to leave my nightie on to have coffee on the deck in the morning. So this morning I did, it’s private enough, but I realized as I sat there feeling slightly exposed, Tom hadn’t really asked me, I had dreamt it..but I digress.

 

So, yes, I have renamed and rebranded this blog. As a result, I feel like I am dumping an old friend. I know this about myself, I tend to attach to inanimate objects. I personify my cars by talking to them, thanking them for their steadfast loyalty, for never letting me down, for getting me places safely, for spending so much quality time with me, that I feel disloyal, ungrateful and abandoning when I trade them in for a newer model. I ask their forgiveness. They always grant it.

 

I love Off the Couch Blog. I love the very clever, double entendre name. I love Duke, boldly sitting on the couch like he has every right to be there. I smile every time I look at him. I loved writing for Off the Couch this past year and a half. But, it seems, many blog writing therapists are equally as shrewd and Off the Couch is used in many different combinations making it an excessively used name. (Not so clever after all.)

 

Ergo…rebranding was necessary.

 

So, I am announcing the birth of being Boswell. And what a birth process it has been. Seven months, almost full term, of time, money, and angst to push this baby out. This past month I have been waking at 3:30 each morning, the witching hour, begging who ever is in charge of these matters to get it the f@#k out of me. (I demanded the same from my obstetrician during the birthing of both of my kids. A girl can only take so much.)

 

The due date? Well, as so often happens, the timing is serendipitously perfect, despite all of my kicking and screaming, panting and blowing.

 

Being Boswell will go live this Thursday, December 6th at 12:15 pm. My birth day and time, 55 years ago.

 

I am so excited and relieved. I feel 30 pounds lighter.

 

So keep your computers on and your eyes peeled…a baby is coming!!!!!

A No Sun Sunday

The perfect Sunday. The illusion that there is nothing to be done, but of course there is, my winter clothes need to be carried from their basement storage up two flights of stairs to my bedroom closet, reading and writing to be completed, phone calls to be returned. For some unknown reason, maybe Grace, maybe my attempt to stay in the moment, I remain in the illusion and have a lovely Sunday.

 

Even my trip to the gym, followed by a quick stop at the grocery store, is not pressured by the clock or a to do list.

 

Around two o’clock we decide it might be a good time to watch a DVD a friend suggested, Adventureland. She said it was a sweet movie. Seemed like a good day for a sweet movie. Shortly into the movie I realized I had seen it, I seldom remember a movie by it’s title, but I often recognize the story line. (This costs us a few extra dollars a year in repeat rentals. Oh well.)

 

So we both fell asleep on the couch, a fire blazing in the fireplace, Clea, (short for Cleopatra because we knew as soon as we met her she was a queen,) my cat of unknown age who we adopted when she found her way to my son’s lap during a bonfire party twelve years ago, who is in the process of dying from kidney failure, asleep with us on my belly. It was one of those great naps because in this day there is nothing else to do but nap. My whole body let go into the couch, letting the couch have all of me. Clea letting me have all of her.

 

Beans and greens for dinner, the beans have been soaking since last night, the organic kale we grabbed yesterday at the co op is beautiful. I feel healthy just looking at it. I know I will feel better eating it. It is the perfect no sun Sunday in November meal.

 

 

Maybe an extra hour is responsible for this leisurely day. Having more time always seems to slow me down. I relax when I believe there is enough time to do nothing.

You Little Witch!

I heard my mother say this to my young niece when she refused to give my mom a kiss good night. In that moment I no longer felt crazy. My mom had just given me the greatest gift that she could give…validation of her demand to be loved.

 

Hearing my mom’s accusation to a child, other than me, that didn’t give her what she wanted assured me I wasn’t making “it” up. I hadn’t imagined that it was my job to please her or make her feel important. I saw second hand how she withdrew her love. If mom didn’t feel special, ain’t no one gonna feel special. I crafted a childhood career of getting what I needed by giving her what she wanted. My early training in the art of manipulation.

 

I wrote her wonderful mommy poems rhyming my way into her good graces. I decoupaged them to wooden plaques so she could hang them on the kitchen wall to remind herself of how well I played the game with her. I made her look good with my high grades, my get along attitude and involvement in all the right activities. I was who she wanted me to be…unless I wasn’t.

 

I had this other side of me that just couldn’t fly right. I argued on behalf of animal rights as my family went hunting. I refused to wear animal fur (so my mom told me the saleswoman had assured her it was fake fur encircling my hooded face. I soon caught on and had yet another reason to distrust her). I stood against the war in Vietnam to my Major in the Army dad and Commander in the Coast Guard uncle. I railed against their bigotry and knocked on the door of the only African American family living in my neighborhood to sell them Christmas cards. I developed healing rituals which I practiced in attempt to transform this family that made little sense to me. I was always fighting fights for the underdog.

 

In these moments, I was a little witch too.

 

It was no coincidence that one of my favorite books as a kid was, Little Witch, by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. I still have it on my bookshelf. Little Witch was different from her family. They didn’t understand her. They didn’t like her for the same reason. So she found ways to secure herself in her self, despite her lack of belonging to her own flesh and blood.

 

This story gave me hope as a youngster. I wasn’t alone. I identified with Little Witch feeling like the outcast. I understood her many attempts to fit in with her family, as well as, her refusal to give up on herself. Little Witch bolstered my courage to fly in the face of my family.

 

I went on to read many books about young witches. I came to identify with them. Still do. I assume, except for the wicked witch of the west-who, in the book Wicked, was simply misunderstood-witches are intelligent, thoughtful, insightful women that see life a bit differently than most. In fact the word ‘witch’ means wise woman, or did many moons ago.

 

In 2nd grade I won the Halloween costume contest wearing a mother made witch’s costume. It was great, complete with a big pointy hat donning strategically placed patches of plaid fabric. As the winner, I lead my class in the elementary school Halloween parade. I belonged. A fleeting state of being for me. Little did my mom know what paradox she created sewing me into that costume. She was too busy letting everyone know she made the costume.

 

When Jena was in middle school she and her friends decided to trick or treat as the Wizard of Oz characters. One guess who Jena wanted to be…I was so proud. My Little Witch. So I proceeded to make her a Wicked Witch of the West costume. It was great, complete with a witchy hat full of black tulle trailing down her back. I stayed up very late the night before she needed it to finish it. I was on a mission. I knew exactly what I was doing. I was passing the broom to my daughter.

 

I love witches. I resonant with their misunderstood-ness.

 

But what I admire most about witches?

 

Witches don’t kiss anyone they don’t want to kiss!

 

You Little Witch!

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.