Tuesday, January 29, 2013
With love and faith, I cracked my heart for you
and passion filled the holes with fire,
while grace’s light surrendered what I knew.
Wandering alone, I found Xanadu.
And there, for my burdens, was a pier
with Love and Faith; I cracked my heart for you.
A familiar world turned to flames of blue
as I gathered ashes of desire,
while grace’s light surrendered what I knew.
I carried the urn to grasses of dew.
Spreading the contents, there sprang a brier.
With love and faith, I cracked my heart for you.
Closing my eyes, I shunned the thorns I grew,
then saw the roses of its attire,
while grace’s light surrendered what I knew.
Through Beauty, I was given what is true.
In her arms, I let myself retire
with love and faith. I cracked my heart for you,
while Grace’s light surrendered what I knew.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
It can be agreed that 2012 was a tumultuous year: an ugly, expensive presidential race; the Koch brothers buying any state propositions they could; women getting a strong sense of how they rate amongst the republican party. On a personal level, as Fortune turned on her red stiletto, some of us found ourselves unceremoniously dropped on our heads, financially, romantically and/or health-wise. However, this post isn’t so much about last year, which was officially over everywhere in the world a few hours ago. This is about the love affair I’m going to have with 2013… well, love may be a bit strong, and affair a bit presumptuous. Let’s just see how it goes.
We’ve just recently met—really, it’s only been about 13 hours since we were introduced. I can’t promise undying love or loyalty (it’s much too soon for that), but I can say with some surety that I plan on being around until it’s over. Maybe we'll even like each other.
I will admit that like any new relationship, I have trepidations about this one. Some of my fear buttons are stuck in the on position (honestly, it’s not spilt champagne or powdered sugar from the beignets). It’s just that, like all new years, the last one started out with such promise, then thoroughly broke my heart towards the end. I’m sure you understand. So, here’s what I’ll agree to, 2013:
I’ll try my best to move forward along my soul path. This year I’m adding financial abundance, right livelihood and creativity. If I could meld them into one word, I would. But I suspect that they are intrinsically tied to each other. And I’ll continue to practice unconditional love, compassion, gratitude, grace, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, trust and courage. Yes, some of these need a LOT of practice.
I’ll stay positive, and if positive isn’t readily available, I’ll try to shift into neutral. If my vibration is high, it does seem to help the rest of my world. Except for Oberon. High vibrations seem to stir him into a frenzy (just ask the roll of toilet paper).
I’ll listen to my Wild Woman and Muse more often. I know I don’t give them the attention they deserve and they do have my highest self at heart. Besides, they are integral to the successful completion of my goals.
I’ll stay open. There will be challenges, there always are. Maybe more deaths and other losses, even. But regardless of what is going on, I’ll keep the doors and windows unlocked and listen for your convertible, motorcycle or knock. I know you’ll be bringing me opportunities. And maybe once in a while you could bring roses, peonies, or chocolate.
I’ll do what I need to do. Even if that means taking a crappy job until something better comes along, dating lots of men until the right one arrives, and asking for help when I need it. I might need some prodding on that last one—okay, I might need prodding on all of them.
I’ll serve. I already have one volunteer opportunity lined up, and two more that I’ve been thinking about for years. I’ll do what I can to be of service locally and globally, and in any ways I am guided to do so.
I’ll trust that all things that happen are ultimately to my benefit and serve my highest good. This is a tough one and I can already feel myself faltering. I’ll definitely need help and encouragement, 2013.
I hope the terms of our relationship are amenable to you and I look forward to getting to know you better over the next 12 months.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
The holiday season is in full swing and Christmas is a mere 23 days away. My last post was about gift-giving, with the intent of exploring that theme in the following days. Well, today’s post has a slightly different spin, as the gift I’m going to talk about is a bit more intangible, and perhaps part of the conundrum. Before I explain, I do want to acknowledge Carin Channing at The Therapy Booth. As a dear friend, her November 29 post inspired mine.
My boyfriend and I broke up a few days ago. The details are unimportant, as these ponderings mostly have to do with the responses I’ve received since then, thus the title. And as anyone with a broken heart knows, the last thing anyone wants to hear during a time of grief is anything. Really. Most well-meaning, heartfelt condolences and advice are at best ignored, because it’s just too painful to hear any of it. And loving friends risk cynical, nasty reactions from the newly single.
Here are the top three “helps” I’ve been given since Wednesday, two of which came within the first 24 hours, and my internal responses:
What have you learned from this?
I’m a strong supporter and practitioner of learning what I can from all of life’s experiences. However, I generally don’t have a handle on the real lesson within hours of a relationship ending. Sometimes it takes weeks or months, or sadly, years. My immediate response is spurred by hurt, not introspection. So, while I could tell you that I’ve learned I was foolish to open myself to love, that men are idiots and not to be trusted, and that I am being told by the Universe that fulfilling romantic relationships are not for me, I suspect that those aren’t my take-aways. And vocalized aloud, I’m likely to be told I’m wrong about those things, which I don’t want to hear, either.
You need to go out with other men. Let me set you up with ______ (fill in the blank).
I’m sad, I’m hurt, and I’m sadly still in love with the guy that broke my heart. On top of all that, I’m terrible company right now. I’m prone to tears, and under the wrong (right?) conditions, bitchiness. I don’t want to leave my house. I don’t want to talk to anyone. And need I remind you I’m still madly in love with someone else? Why on earth would you set me up with someone you like? So, no, I don’t want to be fixed up on a blind date. I’m in my 40s. I don’t see the value in rebounding by dating a string of men. I do see the value in grieving, at home, alone. When I’m through, maybe I’ll take you up on your offer. However, you should pay careful attention to my previous commentary about the take-aways.
He’s just scared and probably still loves you. Maybe you should think about staying open/trying to help him through this fear.
Now, this may be valid. He’s suffered a lot of loss and probably has abandonment issues—it takes one to know one and like attracts like. However, for as correct as this might be, I have my own vulnerability and fears to revisit. And no matter how he really feels, I can’t get around the fact that his interest has waned over the last few months and that he has, for all intents and purposes, pushed me away. He didn’t say, “help me through this.” He said, “I don’t know how I feel about you, I love you, and here’s a laundry list of reasons we shouldn’t be together.” This could be interpreted in a number of ways. My current interpretation is that he doesn’t love me, he isn’t interested, and that he was trying to let me down easily. All I can say with any surety is that he says he doesn’t know, so neither do I. For now, I’m going to tend to my own heart, until I hear otherwise.
Okay, my rant is over. We’ve all said things to make someone feel better during a time of loss because we all know how painful it is. My friends are ultimately well-meaning, and I know that with their words come with caring, love and compassion. They are trying to ease my suffering in order to ease the two-fold suffering of their own. One, they hurt for me. Two, they are being reminded of the pain they felt from their own past hurts. So, I try not to judge them and keep my responses silent. Which brings me to the theme of this post: the gift of silence.
I know for myself, and probably most people, we really don’t want to hear anything anyone has to say shortly after a break-up. Nothing makes us feel better. Even chocolate and alcohol fall short. The best gift that can be given during this time is the silent treatment. A gentle “I’m sorry” or “I love you” is fine. Even better, a knowing, compassionate nod. If you are the receiver of what sounds like platitudes, please try to be gentle with yourself and your loved ones. If you are the giver, before you speak, ponder what words make you feel better when your heart is in pieces. If you can’t come up with any, stay quiet and maybe give a hug instead. Silence isn't just golden, it's worth a thousand words.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
To go along with last year’s rant about holiday shoppers and their rather un-Jesus-like behavior, I thought I’d share this year’s thoughts I have about gift-giving during Christmas. To be honest, I don’t exchange presents anymore. My financial situation has made it impractical for several years, although I used to buy presents anyway. I’d love to buy for my kids, but the money just isn’t there, and neither is the credit card. Fortunately, they are old enough to understand economics now that they are adults.
I’m currently in a romantic relationship with a man who buys gifts, yet stresses about spending money, so I started pondering this phenomenon. Why do people feel compelled to spend hundreds of dollars (that they often don’t have) on friends and family once a year? After doing a little research, it would seem the practice started with the Roman festival Saturnalia, which was celebrated on December 17. According to Wikipedia:
The day of gift-giving was the Sigillaria on December 23. Because gifts of value would mark social status contrary to the spirit of the season, these were often the pottery or wax figurines called sigillaria made specially for the day, candles, or "gag gifts", of which Augustus was particularly fond. In his many poems about the Saturnalia, Martial names both expensive and quite cheap gifts, including writing tablets, dice, knucklebones, moneyboxes, combs, toothpicks, a hat, a hunting knife, an axe, various lamps, balls, perfumes, pipes, a pig, a sausage, a parrot, tables, cups, spoons, items of clothing, statues, masks, books, and pets. Gifts might be as costly as a slave or exotic animal, but Martial suggests that token gifts of low intrinsic value inversely measure the high quality of a friendship. Patrons or "bosses" might pass along a gratuity (sigillaricium) to their poorer clients or dependents to help them buy gifts. Some emperors were noted for their devoted observance of the Sigillaria.
In a practice that might be compared to modern greeting cards, verses sometimes accompanied the gifts. Martial has a collection of poems written as if to be attached to gifts. Catullus received a book of bad poems by "the worst poet of all time" as a joke from a friend.
Gift-giving was not confined to the day of the Sigillaria. In some households, guests and family members received gifts after the feast in which slaves had shared. 1
From there, we go to the frankincense, myrrh and gold the Magi presented to baby Jesus; and a few millennia later, we have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, people going into debt, and in some cases, a “little” crazy (http://news.yahoo.com/5-horror-stories-black-friday-2012-122400009.html) to buy their loved ones gifts. Americans pride themselves on how they have more civilized mores. And yet, they cling to a tradition started by a society who owned slaves, assassinated their leaders and philosophers, and could be considered imperialists. I’m talking about the Romans, although it would appear that the Christmas ornament didn’t fall from the tree.
As a culture, Americans have given the holiday season its own spin. We, the people, go broke and create stress for ourselves to show our admiration for others. We abuse strangers, literally, while shopping for that perfect present for that special someone. We use gifts as a form of power and preference according to how much we spend per person. We only buy for those who will give to us. At the same time, the receivers are often ambivalent and ungracious about what they received. And yet, we acknowledge that Christmas is supposed to be about peace, love, and giving freely. Ironic, isn’t it?
Perhaps we, as individuals, need to rethink our relationship to gift-exchanging/giving and why we participate in what often seems like utter madness. And how, if we are going to participate in an exchange, we can do so with the sentiments behind the holiday. Maybe then our gifts will make more sense and we'll be a little kinder to each other as we shop.
Stay tuned for future blog posts on gift-giving and other conundrums on the run-up to Christmas 2012.
1. “Saturnalia,” Wikipedia, accessed November 26, 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia#Gift-giving
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
You love your family and you want to spend time with them, maybe even during Thanksgiving or Christmas (they are the time-proven classics for family bonding). But those who share a blood-bond with you have been the sole topic of discussion at your therapist’s office… for years. You’re torn. Do you stay home where it’s safe (and maybe a little bit boring and lonely) or do you walk into the arena? The easy answer is to spend the holidays with friends, get sick (a sure way to get out of a family holiday), travel to where your family is unlikely to follow, or schedule that root canal you’ve been avoiding. Any of these options are likely to be more pleasant than listening to bickering and veiled insults, or watching ordinarily kind people degenerate to barbarianism. Obligation and guilt are strong incentives that may encourage you to choose against your better judgment—and darn it, those nephews/nieces/grandkids are just too cute to pass up.
So, you’ve made the decision to spend Thanksgiving with your family. How does one who is reasonably healthy deal with certain insanity, without copious amounts of alcohol? Here are some suggestions:
If everyone is focused on playing cards and doing something fun, there is less time to focus on everyone else and the bickering/gossiping that is sure to ensue. Head games don't count.
If the weather is beautiful outside, take those adorable kids to a playground, go on a hike, or explore that state park everyone always talks about visiting, but no one does. If you try hard enough, you may even tire out everyone, including the adults.
Either at home or the theater, movies can be a useful equalizer/tranquilizer. Mouths can’t talk when stuffed with popcorn and people who have been eating and drinking may be inclined to fall asleep. Warning: there may be whining if not everyone likes the film.
You probably won’t get everyone to meditate with you, but you can be proactive in your peace of mind by taking even five minutes for yourself. If personal space and boundaries are issues, use the bathroom for your time out. Chances are, no one will follow you in there.
Keep yourself busy while everyone else is going crazy around you. Bring a good book, art/craft project and/or your laptop/iPad/iPhone to keep yourself occupied and out of the fray. It’s much harder to participate in the ritual slaying of family morale if your mind is mostly elsewhere.
Offer to host
If you’re busy cooking and cleaning, you’ll probably be less in tune to what your relatives are doing. And if you’re lucky, they’ll clean up after themselves once they’re through killing each other.
Regardless of how you spend your holidays and with whom you share them, the best tactic to take is one of gratitude. No matter how obnoxious, contentious, or frustrating family can be, if you have one to share time with, remember that you are blessed... with an opportunity to practice love and peace, if nothing else.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
I’ve pondered for a while why I don’t look for work. I know all of the online jobsites and how to search for jobs. I know to network. I know I should have registered with employment agencies—months ago. It’s in my best interest to do all of these things, and yet, I do nothing. I look for work—inconsistently. I rarely find anything to which I feel compelled to apply; and when I do find something of interest, I don’t consider my skill set up-to-par. When the fit seems ideal and I do take that plunge to send a resume, I either get no response or a “thanks, but no thanks.” And so, I procrastinate at the edge of the Cliff of Day-to-Day Survival, with the dirt loosening and falling over the side. It’s scary, yet there I stand.
So, this morning I got real with myself and realized the problem: I’ve lost my work mojo. I’m sure it’s hiding somewhere. It might even be in an unmarked box in the attic, possibly next to where I put my former identity. I haven’t gotten around to looking for it, though. But I digress. The conundrum is in getting it back. How does one find self-validation in their professional abilities? I have an impressive skill set. There was a time when I was highly sought after for my talents—for both jobs and committees. And now, I have friends who don’t necessarily think highly of my abilities. I have former employers who (overly) criticized my work, especially my writing. I was laid off after being offered a lesser job that I declined. I have people who have expressed interest in working with me, then never called. Was I not a right fit, or did they just flake? Even my volunteer experiences have been less than fulfilling. And who am I to say, that in the workforce, I’m all that and a box of chocolates? Who decides my value? Them or me? As one who doesn’t look for validation outside of myself, I don’t know how to answer this question.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Finding a job is fairly easy, even in a crappy market. Finding a job that keeps you off food stamps and that you enjoy--at the same time--well, that is a conundrum. And after having negative work experiences and little mentoring, becoming gainfully employed has been a scary process. Kind of like dating again after a bad break-up. However, rather than telling my tale of work-related woe, I thought I'd shout out to the world, the Universe, and all three followers of my blog, what I want out of right livelihood and what I'm willing to do to get it. And if this post helps others get clear on what they want in their livelihood, even better. So, without further ado, here are the lists:
My Ideal Right Livelihood
- Flexible schedule.
- Feeds my soul and my intellect.
- Gives me space to be creative.
- Uses most, if not all, of my talents, strengths and skills, especially the ones I enjoy using.
- Encourages/Nurtures and provides space for me to gain new skills.
- Nurtures me to stretch beyond my current comfort zones.
- Dovetails into most aspects of my life.
- Compensates me financially so that I can meet all my monthly obligations, afford what I need for survival, have money to set aside for emergencies, leaves me discretionary funds, and provides me with the means to create several savings accounts.
- Is the type of work that allows me to make the world a better place, locally, regionally, and/or globally.
- The people I work with respect my boundaries, value me as both an individual and professional, enjoy working with me, treat me with respect, and appreciate what I contribute.
- Falls into the categories of healing and creative arts, environment, animals, the outdoors, food, and/or spirituality, with the understanding that my highest good may have a different category in mind I haven’t considered.
- I work no more than 40 hours a week, and ideally, less.
- Allows me to grow professionally and personally.
- The work I do is varied and interesting.
- Allows me to explore my leadership skills.
- It’s fun!!
- I love waking up and exploring my right livelihood, whether at home or elsewhere!
- Allows me to stand my ground, when necessary.
- Allows me to maintain my integrity.
To attract my right livelihood, I accept the following responsibilities:
- Being myself, not compromising and holding my integrity, regardless of what else is happening.
- Loving myself and remembering that nothing is personal (even when it is intended as such).
- Opening myself to all possibilities and trusting that I will be able to weed out the wrong ones quickly and painlessly.
- Trusting the process, no matter how long it takes or how scary it is.
- Having fun with the process and the people I meet along the way, whether colleagues, bosses, and/or clients.
- Signing up with temp agencies to help me along the path.
- Looking for work daily.
- Not getting discouraged.
- Networking with as many different people as I can and tell them I am looking for work.
- Allowing jobs/employers/coworkers/clients to be exactly what they are without judgment and being okay with some not being the right fit.
- Taking all the risks that make this process possible.
- Being gentle with myself while I wait.