“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace
Writing here has felt self-indulgent lately. It’s not necessarily helpful to others for me to write about pain here, but rather, it burdens them. I don’t want to bring down the few precious people who read this blog. My words, however insignificant, are putting something, en energy, out into the world. So I’ve been thinking: what is the point of writing here? It is self-serving and indulgent? What if I could just let it all go?
Certainly I’ve been to that place before and stopped writing here. Right now it serves as a safe place to process and be heard. A safe place to put the chaos and turbulence I’ve been feeling for a while, and I hope to send out a more positive and affirming vibe again when it comes back to me.
That brings me to where I’m trying to go: to a place of unconditional love. That’s where I really want to be. A place where I forgive everyone and myself; a place where I love everyone and myself–no matter what. No matter what.
For a long time, I’ve worked on healing my heart, forgiving, and loving people and things as they are. Forgiving is easier than forgetting. What is most difficult is to forget.
Learning who I am and who I am on this earth to be–that has apparently been my lifelong assignment. Whether I really know who I am or why I am here yet, even after 41 years, I am not sure. I do believe that everything I’ve experienced is for a reason and it’s a part of my soul’s purpose here. The challenge has been great; too great, at times. It’s been, at times, overwhelming to the point where I’ve wanted to let go of this life. My life, I feel, has been heavy, painful, sorrowful. That’s not to say it has not had great joy, too, because it has. There has been great joy, too. The joy is what keeps me going. It provides just enough juice to get through the next hurdle.
And, maybe this is just what life is: a mix of everything. The goal is to embrace that.
Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
About this prayer, copied and pasted from Wikipedia:
The anonymous text that is usually called the Prayer of Saint Francis (or Peace Prayer, or Simple Prayer for Peace, or Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace) is a widely known Christian prayer for peace. Often associated with the Italian Saint Francis of Assisi (c. 1182 – 1226), but entirely absent from his writings, the prayer in its present form has not been traced back further than 1912. Its first known occurrence was in French, in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell), published by a Catholic Church organization in Paris named La Ligue de la Sainte-Messe (The League of the Holy Mass). The author’s name was not given, although it may have been the founder of La Ligue, Father Esther Bouquerel. The prayer was heavily publicized during both World War I and World War II. It has been frequently set to music by notable songwriters and quoted by prominent leaders, and its broadly inclusive language has found appeal with diverse faiths encouraging service to others.
Along with the other resolutions posted the other day, some other ones have crept in. These are letting go and surrendering to life, and ultimately, surrendering to God.
This means letting go of my need to control everything, and the belief that I even can control everything. Because, I can’t. I control nothing.
Surrender. Letting go.
As a result of this intention, I woke up Saturday morning and asked Alan to go with me on an overnight trip to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where we met and lived as newlyweds. A getaway for just the two of us, for just the second time in our life as parents. He said “yes”, so we dropped everything and left. Mia, Anna, and Penny were in the loving care of Alan’s parents.
We didn’t take many pictures, but here is one from the beginning of our adventure. The joy on our faces is real. The trip was absolutely rejuvenating.
The above photo is taken from the inside of Acoustic Cafe in downtown Eau Claire. The white building kitty corner across the street was the building we lived in when we were first married. We had the three top windows on the right on the front side of the building.
Drinking coffee inside the cafe, I sort of went into a trance and back in time to when we lived in that little apartment across the street and who I was back then.
Twenty-two years old, newly married, working as a nursing assistant at a nursing home down the street. Young, naive. Also good at heart, well-intentioned, doing my best, responsible, hard-working, loving, sensitive, kindhearted.
Looking out that window, my heart overflowed with compassion for my former self, the self that lived in that little apartment and did the best with what she had.
I am still that person, still of the same essence. I was never good enough for myself. Not then, not afterward. In that moment, I realized that maybe I’ve been good enough all along. Good enough for me, good enough for Alan, good enough for my parents, good enough for everyone, good enough for God.
Can I have that compassion for my present self? Can I let go of those judgments against myself and let myself be good enough?
Anna came down with a very sore throat and fever today, so my guess is we’ll lay pretty low for New Year’s Eve.
Normally around this time of year, I feel pretty excited about the prospect of a new year, a fresh start, and making new year’s resolutions. Although I rarely keep my resolutions, that hasn’t stopped me from making them. This year, I’m not feeling it. Maybe that’ll change tomorrow. The feelings of discouragement and perhaps of depression are a barrier at the moment. But, who knows? Maybe this will be the year that I actually do lose 20 lbs. and start exercising.
Facebook, as expected, has been difficult for me. At first, it was a rush to be back in touch with so many people I care about and catch up with them. I get to be a part of the group that Alan enjoys communicating with on Facebook and I get to make sure he doesn’t flirt with anybody on there (yes, I am that jealous). Now that rush is gone, and I’m left with this annoying feeling like I have to check it multiple times per day. I am thinking a lot about my friend, Allison, who is really good at managing screen time. I think she checks Facebook once per week. That would be good for me and perhaps this could be my New Year’s resolution. Interestingly, research shows that the more a person uses social media, the less happy a person is and the less satisfying real-life relationships one has. I can see that in my own life. There’s a feeling of being left out without Facebook and not knowing anything, but maybe this ignorance is bliss. Being with Facebook brings far more complicated problems to conquer, such as risk of infidelity, competing with real-life relationship quality, comparing one’s life to others’ lives, information overload, anxiety, and getting triggered by upsetting posts.
My self-esteem has been at rock-bottom for quite some time now. I’m not completely sure what is going on. I think I’m suffering from legitimate mental illness right now, even though I don’t really buy into mental diagnoses completely. I know, ironic. With a few exceptions, usually mental illness is a matter of a spiritual crisis combined with poor life choices and is usually correctable without medication or even therapy. I do think there is a hormonal/chemical imbalance thing going on with me, possibly related to diet and exercise, intestinal flora, negative beliefs, aging, and stress. There is a spiritual crisis of sorts that is going on, and this can’t be fixed from the outside. I have to go through it from within. What is my purpose here? Am I even worthy? Am I lovable? Is God punishing me? Sounds stupid, I know. I think everyone is worthy, lovable, and I don’t believe God punishes anybody…except for me. Why is that? The part of me that thinks I’m not good enough has been around as long as I can remember. Can I maybe let this go in the new year? If I let it go, I can hardly imagine what could be possible. Everything in my life would be better if I could let it go.
Here are some photos we had taken at JC Penney this year. We weren’t able to get them done in time to send out Christmas cards this year, but had them taken, anyway. Honestly, that’s ok. I really dislike myself in the family photo and prefer not sending it out. I love Alan and the girls, though.
I ordered a copy of the Lamsa Bible, which according to David Hawkins is the Bible most close to the original Aramaic text of Jesus. I see online that there is controversy over this, so it’ll be interesting to learn more about that. Bible passages have been comforting to me lately. Here is one I like today, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5 in the King James Bible. It fills my heart.
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the [a]earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
As a part of the ongoing inner work and also re-joining Facebook, I’ve realized more fully that there are a lot of addictive tendencies I experience from day to day. My endless struggle seems to be maintaining focus and staying on the straight and narrow path. To me, this path is taking care of my health, my family, and doing the spiritual work. I get sucked into negative thinking, paranoid thoughts, eating impulsively, not exercising, and checking my phone endlessly. I feel frustrated with myself. I feel like I have ADHD. The underlying cause of the addictions seem to be a sense of entitlement that I’m not letting go of. There is a desire to escape discomfort. And, there is the general feeling of emotional and physical fatigue that has been around for a while.
While the inner turmoil has been somewhat better recently, I continue to experience this sense of feeling lost and directionless. The visual metaphor I have in my mind is that I’m walking at night through a small town on cobblestone streets. The town is asleep, with only street lights turned on. I’m cold and it’s raining ice cold rain, and I’m covering up with a rain coat. I just keep walking and walking but don’t know where I’m headed. Despite this, there is still a sense of safety and security and that there are people in the houses that I can turn to if I need them. My astrology predictions say I’ll feel this way until 2021, so I’d better get comfortable with this.
What I’m very drawn to right now are spirituality and especially Christianity. Maybe because of Christmas, maybe because it’s just my path right now. I have been listening to Christian music and watching Jesus videos. And, I’ve enjoyed it a great deal and feel that it nourishes my soul. Over Christmas we went to a traditional church service at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church and I enjoyed it greatly. We also went to Alan’s church on Christmas day, which was not enjoyable in the religious sense but it was enjoyable because we saw many special people I haven’t seen in a while. I think that since leaving Alan’s church, I’ve been uncertain of where I stand and what I need in terms of religion and spirituality. Maybe I’m in a place now where it feels safe to explore and find my own meaning in these things.
That’s right! It’s about a month late, but still. Congratulations to me! In October 2014, Alan and I had bacterial pneumonia and felt like I was on the brink of death. Here I am now in November/December 2019 and have had viral pneumonia for almost a week. I don’t feel like I am on the brink of death this time, though. Apparently, viral pneumonia is rarely fatal–so, that’s comforting. I’m probably going to come out of this alive.
What is there for me to learn this time? The emotional backdrop that preceded this bout with pneumonia is similar, though less intense, than the backdrop of five years ago. Five years ago, I was bursting at the seams with way too much on my plate. This time, there was a full plate and I was starting to pull at the seams a bit, but it was manageable. There was a great deal of emotional suffering and holding on to beliefs and feelings that were hurting me. But, I wasn’t about to lose my mind, necessarily. And so it seems the main trigger has been emotional stress, and perhaps also that a child coughed on me multiple times.
The details of the emotional stress will be spared in this blog. All that needs to be said is this: the relief of suffering comes in letting go. It is in letting go of judgment and of wanting things to be different, and choosing unconditional love and forgiveness instead. We can even be as radical as finding a place of gratitude for the whole situation that came with the pain. Suffering is a teacher of sorts.
So, I’m working on that. Letting go. Forgiving. Loving. Finding gratitude. Remembering I’m not better than others. Being “hurt” is a function of the ego; the ego loves to make a victim of itself. I’m working on reminding myself that the events that transpire are events that are here for me to learn and work out my karmic debts.
Many posts on this site have been written during Mercury in Retrograde, or MiR, as they call it. It’s some non-scientific fluff that I like to follow and assign meaning to, because somehow it makes sense to me.
This MiR cycle lasts until November 20th. There is a great deal of inner turmoil (more than the usual amount) and resistance to change brewing in me at the moment. There is overwhelm about tasks and financial worries. There is feeling the need to plan ahead for next school year and possible sending Anna back to school.
MiR is not a good time to make commitments, but rather, a good time to explore options to be solidified later (or not). During MiR we lack the clarity and intuition that we might normally have to make good decisions or appreciate the life we have.
Nervous anxiety is pumping through my body at the moment, which is what brought me here. Seeking to escape the discomfort of the anxiety, I’ve been running around aimlessly tonight, jumping from one thing to the next, mostly online.
My new job has been stressful and overwhelming so far. I’ve loved the therapy aspect of it, but disliked strongly everything else–the management (very Big Brother-like), dealing with rules and regulations, the billing and paperwork, and the insurance hassles. I’m still doing a portion of my old job on top of the new one, so at least there’s some sense of normalcy. It’s overwhelming to even explain why the job has been overwhelming.
I cannot wait until I am fully licensed (hopefully one year from now) and am seriously thinking about doing a cash-only practice as soon as possible. Because I can’t stand billing, crappy computer networks and software, insurance, and rules in general. I want to do my own thing. I want to get paid for it a reasonable hourly rate that I choose. I want to live by my own rules and be my own boss. I just have absolutely no idea how to do that.
In the meantime, let’s talk about the good stuff. Mia and Anna have been happy with homeschooling, even though there has been some lack of direction and structure. They are happy and healthy, laughing a lot and getting along quite well these days. Mia had a paid music gig which was a joy to be a part of. In addition, she continues work on recording an album. Anna quit ballet for reasons too exhausting to write about. Let’s just say we’re all happier now, but she still wants to dance ballet…and we just don’t know where. There has been lots of music in the house lately, which has been lovely. Halloween came and went, too, and that was fun as always. Alan is good. He was Bob Ross for Halloween but unfortunately his photo will not upload.
Here are a few photos of everything else.
Thanks for reading! Until next time…
October is here, and so are the usual fall-things, like Halloween paraphernalia, colder weather, pumpkins, rust-colored leaves. It’s been one of my favourite times of year since I was a kid, and I think it still is. We had a bonfire last night, complete with the girls playing eukelele and singing. Meanwhile, our dog, Penny, chased little creatures of the night and dug holes to chase them until her paws were covered in mud.
There have been hard things going on over the last month or so. There have been transitions, and these together have brought what I am calling “growing pains.” Growth is hard, and it hurts. We don’t always know when the growing will stop, or if it will have mercy on us and give us a rest. The hardest thing for me, I’ve learned, is when others grow. When those closest to us grow and don’t need us as much, or need us in different ways, or turn toward other people instead of toward us. Different from how it’s always been, disrupting the normal flow of things, disrupting the lovely predictability and safety that’s always been there.
Many new things about my honey have surfaced over the last few months; he’s gone through an inner transformation, or mid-life crisis, as he calls it. I’ve learned that he likes Facebook and joined it without telling me. This is the same Facebook he teased me for using so much when I first started using it…and the second, third and fourth times I went back to it. He’s connected with many old friends he’s lost touch with over the years, and this has been so good for him. I’ve learned that he will share things with others that he has not shared with me, over Facebook, even. And I’ve learned this makes me feel a little jealous and left out. I’ve learned that when asked of the life experiences he’d most like to re-live, he will spontaneously narrate a long and lovely list of wonderful moments, some of which I didn’t know about. Mostly, I’ve learned that this list will leave out much about me. And again, I’ve learned that this not only makes me feel jealous, but super jealous and super left out. At the same time, I want to honor the process and allow things to be what they are.
Therapy would be great at a time like this. However, it’s currently not in the budget, so this blog will have to suffice. This blog is no stranger to that.
There have been many good times, hard times, and just as many ups and downs. Right now I’d say is a hard time. The feeling of joy has been a rare and short visitor. Other than a glimpse here and there, joy has not been here. Yesterday joy paid a short visit when I was eating lunch at the co-op with my sweet girls on a beautiful sunny day, laughing and talking, without being in a rush to be anywhere but right there in that moment. Today joy was in the purple sky at sunset and coming home to the smiling, loving faces of my children. And maybe that’s all we need–a glimpse of joy, here and there. A glimpse to remind us of what’s waiting for us when the growing pains are over.
My recent subscription to Medium has been arriving in my inbox every day. It’s a breath of fresh air. Here is my favorite Medium article from this morning’s delivery. Written by author Ayodeji Awosika, the words are uplifting and thought provoking. They reset my thinking today, reminding me to tune in to the present moment and recognize that “the sky is not falling.” This describes just how I’d like to live my life. It is so easy to forget without a reminder once in a while.
Best wishes to everyone for a happy weekend.