Monthly Archives: January 2014

Not-so-MORNING PAGES

Less than a half hour away from my final creativity group coaching session with Jill – at least for the time being.

I haven’t written since Friday. I guess I took the weekend off, and now it’s Tuesday and I’m lagging. The story gnaws at me, pulling at my edges while I continue to fumble my way through it. It is never far from my thoughts, but no words have come through yet.

I’ve been great with distracting myself. I spent the morning listening to Eminem and Pink on my iTunes, sifting through emails and multiple cups of coffee… I suppose I will graduate to a cup of tea – to be made before the call begins. That, and void my bladder.  (Yes, TMI.)

I’m still dispirited. I don’t really know what ails me. It’s back to gray and rainy again, though the last week has been quite bright and sunny and I haven’t gone outside since my birthday (or maybe it was the day after… but it’s been at least a week since I’ve presented myself to the world, fully dressed).

This morning I am doing the no-pants dance (literally… you should have seen me grooving in the kitchen while I was waiting for water to boil and my toast to brown), sitting in my t-shirt and striped underwear as I type this out. Eventually I’ll shower and dress – Rob Brezsny said that I should make my hair and face as shiny as can be… my best self. I’m sure he doesn’t mean the kind of shiny my hair is, in its current state (which is just greasy from skipping a day or two of shampooing). Damn overactive sebum glands. It keeps me young looking but more slick than I’d like.

I have been thinking that I really miss having a relationship. I miss the complicity. I miss the bodily contact, the comfortable familiarity of colliding atoms with another person, in good (at times pleasurable) ways. I miss another’s touch on my body – the tentative exploration, seeking visceral knowledge of pleasure and connection. The tangible feel of affection and love as it flows out of a hand.

I miss it but not enough to do anything about it.

So by virtue of these distracting thoughts, I’ve been struggling with writing on the story this morning (what else is new?). You’d think that desire fades with time, but it’s not true; not yet, anyway. I suppose fifty is still too young for it not to still be alive and well.

I “found” an old boyfriend on Facebook the other day. The mind is always curious about what has become of people we have known but not seen in a long while. He was my first mad love. We were crazy about each other, and also just plain crazy.

We didn’t know who we were, or how to be, and certainly we weren’t in a healthy relationship (because we didn’t even know what that looked like), but man, were we ever in love. At least I was. I think he was too. It seems so long ago… thirty years. We’ve both been married and divorced. He has been in another long term relationship with someone and is afraid to accept my friend request because it may make her jealous. So still, perhaps, not so healthy, relationship-wise.

Jealousy. What an interesting emotion it is; so detrimental, and yet so prevalent – and consuming. Thinking that permanent possession of something or someone is possible, and fearing its loss – the lesson of impermanence not yet gleaned. Nor the understanding that even when people stay together, things change and evolve – and different doesn’t necessarily mean bad.

Jealousy rears itself on its hind quarters like a spooked horse when one feels insecure in oneself or a relationship (or a situation). It takes gentle self-compassion (and for the other person likewise to show compassionate awareness) to move past it. Of being truthful, kind and transparent… and that level of exposure is fearsome and hard.

Life is too short to be spending it on not wearing yourself on your sleeve, though. Not doing so robs everyone of your best self, including you.

Transparency is important, I think. I learned that the hard way, over many relationships and many years of trial and error.

My last one was the hardest. It stretched me further than I had ever stretched before; it made me grow in ways I didn’t think I had to grow or didn’t know that I wanted to. It was at once one of the most intense and most terrifying relationships that I’d ever had.

It still saddens me that the experience wasn’t a reciprocal one – that the power of it was diminished because we weren’t equally open and present to each other. It taught me a lot about releasing expectation and what the meaning of responsibility was in the context of a relationship. It also taught me to be mindful of my instincts – my body knew what was happening even before things became known – the body knows; trust the body. It also taught me to trust my worth. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy.

I think that the only way to evolve in this world is through relationship – to enjoy the process while growing in awareness. It is like walking in two worlds, really, one foot in the sacred, and one foot in the profane.

I miss it but not enough to do anything about it.

on grieving…

I think Western society (well – truthfully – most of them, for that matter) does not like grief. It’s uncomfortable and distracting, and essentially, when a person is grieving, they are not productive. So we feel compelled to internalize our grief and it eventually manifests as disease (dis-ease).

Or, when we are incapable of keeping it under wraps, we function within the same life framework we were in before but everything suffers; we truly are less productive.

This brings about a snowball effect… we become disengaged, our work quality suffers. Eventually the strain of the expectation of optimal performance during these times creates the sort of situation that exacerbates the already heavy stress that we are attempting to navigate our way through.

The only cure for grief is time – allowing for the healing process to unfold, hopefully helped along by people who can guide the process in a healthy and mindful way. Time heals all things.

Despite the fact that at one time or another most of us have gone through the process of grieving, people don’t know how to approach those who are grieving. I think this is due to the fact that the process of grieving is mishandled by society. The pain is not honoured. The transition is not respected. Pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps is probably something to do at some point in the process, but not when we are at our most raw; the expectation to be able to do so is ludicrous, and yet it is the norm.

So why am I speaking about grieving?

Well, if one was to take one of those psych tests which evaluates the external stressors in our lives which influence our internal lives, job loss would be one of them – and I am intimately familiar with this one point on the checklist, having recently lost my job.

Despite the fact that I had been mentally prepared to be one of the “staffing reassessment” casualties, I’ve been in a sort of tailspin since. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis kind of tail spin (I turned fifty yesterday). I wonder why I am having such a difficult time with “launching” at this stage of my life. The disparity with what it is and how I would like it to be (career wise) is so wide a gap that I can’t fathom how to bridge it. The thought of repeating the last thirty years of my working life is making me balk like never before.

All of this “free” time has afforded me some opportunity to check out what the rest of the world is doing these days. Not the one I was operating in, but the one *out there*… not the one that I was mistakenly assuming was drying up of opportunity but the one that is actually transforming into a more tenable way of living and working in this vast and quickly shifting world. Well, perhaps not so quickly, and this shift is happening with only a visible few, not the vast majority.

[Aside: So many companies are still working off of the industrial revolution SOPs. Evolving from full factory sized staffing to smaller crews, the thinking continues to be “lean and mean”, the mantra of the end of the twentieth century. Almost two decades in to the new millennium and they are still not getting, despite the fact that they conduct “engagement studies” and know the facts, that people must be engaged in order to thrive. To me engagement involves interesting work, and by compartmentalizing processes – particularly in an office environment – that equates to small bits of rote work effected by underpaid people. It may not be about the money, certs, but if people are not earning enough to live a comfortable life, they are operating in survival mode and can’t relax enough to unleash their creative brains – which would be irrelevant anyway, given the fact that any incentive to be creative is slowly being stripped away because of role uniformitization **this is an interesting article on technology and its sociological effects** … (more on all of this later, because this whole paragraph segues into a completely other thought that I don’t really want to speak to at the moment, and is tangental to the my initial thoughts on grieving).]

In any case, the common refrain I hear these days from my age group and peers is: it’s really tough out there; there are little opportunities for the young people these days.

(Which to me translates to: You’re fucked woman… you’re over the hill, overpaid, under-educated, a has-been… and if the kids can’t flourish, with all of their verve and vigour and downright enthusiasm, how do you think that you will?)

I don’t mean they are thinking this in relation to me per se. They are thinking it themselves in regard to their own prospects should they also find themselves amongst the rest of us in the unemployment line, and similarly wondering what the hell they can do to reinvent themselves at this late stage in the game.

I mean seriously… hipsters we ain’t. We’re not even hippies. Most of us are late-in-coming baby boomers or Gen-X’ers (who the hell thinks up these ridiculous naming conventions anyway?). We’re done with the baby ranching and the marriages (because most of them didn’t survive), and in the midst of being overburdened with debts and living expenses way beyond the comfortable quality of life “ratios” that were decided upon during different economic times, a shrinking middle class and a soft job market, we are now having to reinvent ourselves and our raison d’être in midlife, not necessarily by choice but because all of the structures that we had in place to ensure some semblance of security and material continuum are slowly but systematically being dismantled.

So there is much mourning going on at the fort.

Job loss. Mid-life. And, frankly, disillusionment – the realization that we must fight for relevance, but not of the sort that I’ve been waging a war for over the last three decades.

For many years, at least the first decade of my working life, relevance meant accumulating more job-specific skills in the area I was working in (which were obtainable on-the-job and considered valid training and education, perhaps even more so than a certificate or a diploma). That was the challenge that kept me reaching for greater responsibility, professional respect, and career advancement. I find that is not true of the job market and the opportunities for growth within companies today. They are stiff with their requirements, and even less flexible with promoting people into more challenging roles if they do not already have the set of skills and qualifications that the job requires, despite the potential of the employee or candidate.

Much of my career-centric views changed after the birth of my son. My priorities shifted greatly and I was focused on parenting and trying to keep our family unit functioning (and together – much of my marital challenges were present from the very beginning, and deepened as time went on).

I wasn’t thinking about career at that point – I was thinking about survival of the family unit; OUR family unit. I’m sorry that I didn’t focus more on myself and my higher needs, and demanded the support in a way that wasn’t negotiable. That was a huge tactical error. I self-soothed in all of the wrong ways, and lacked the ability to make my way through the forest, and likewise lacked a capable partner to accompany me throughout the journey.

All this rumination has made me realize that I am grieving. Despite the fact that I did not (recently) lose a loved one; that my marriage has been over for a long while and the divorce papers were filed last spring; that my job (for all intents and purposes) summarily sucked and I was not being utilized to my fullest potential (which, incidentally, I’m not even sure how to quantify anymore, because for me a good job has always meant room for potential growth and I’ve clearly maxed out on what that is in relation to what I am currently considering my “profession”).

So… what to do? I am seriously in paralysis mode.

I get up, and I do things: eat, sort and do laundry, load the dishwasher, make meals, sleep, (sometimes) get dressed, (sometimes) go outside, listen to music and podcasts and YouTube videos, intermittently shower and groom myself, read, occasionally talk to people for longer than three minutes, make some art, journal, dust, vacuum, scrub out the tub and the toilet and sink, (sometimes) make my bed, write. Mostly, though, there is a sense that my world has completely collapsed in on itself (think post-apocalypse) and I’m staring at the steaming ruins and wondering where to pick up the pieces – which things are salvageable from the piles of debris and which ones I just need to let be and walk away from. Throughout all of this, I beat myself about the head and shoulders for not moving on.

And so I ran across this excellent young woman’s blog, who had this post (excerpt follows), and I said YES! that’s it, that’s how I feel, and then thought that the letter, What To Say (To Yourself) When You Are Grieving, was… brilliant:

Dear Self,

I am grieving.

Grief is natural.

But I was not born to grieve — I was born to love, and laugh, and live.

Grief is only my waiting room — for the moment.

And one day, soon, I will step out of that waiting room, and back into my life.

I’ll take one small step today, right now, by {insert itty-bitty action step, here}.

That one small step will feel loving, and beautiful, and good.

And that one small step is all I need to do — for now.

Love,

{your name}

XO.

I’m grieving. Ha!

Society doesn’t know how to deal with grief (see above), ME included.

I’m learning, with every crisis and major life change – I’m learning.

I’m learning that the only way over is through, and that progress is slow, because *all the debris and shit* … and that I need to remember to breathe and pick small steps, because that is all the lizard brain that I’m operating from at the moment is capable of. Eventually, though, it will make the transition back to higher-order thinking and we’ll be in business again. Until then I’ll eat Scottish shortbread cookies for lunch and veggies and hummus for breakfast if I want to and be okay with it, keeping in mind that there will be a flip side. There always is.

going mental…

Seems it’s that time of year, when things have been a bit too dark, for a bit too long. I read an incredible blog post today from Tam which spoke to that. We spend too much time and effort sweeping this stuff under the happy carpet, and it’s taken a very long time for those of us who spend our lives straddling that divide between lightness and darkness to feel less marginalized.

My son had been doing poorly in school for quite some time, and no amount of offering my assistance was helpful – in fact, on the day that I was supposed to be laid off from my job, his school had called me in for an emergency meeting with the vice-principal (thus delaying the inevitable by one whole day). My son was facing a temporary suspension with the ultimatum that in order to stay at the school there would have to be no more unexcused absences nor nonproductive attendance.

For some time now, I suspected that there were other issues at play, but each time I suggested he speak to a psychologist he shrugged and said he didn’t need one, and more recently that it would simply feel like an additional burden to attend to. I suppose this bleak turn of events finally convinced him to make an appointment so I dialled our EAP service provider’s hotline and he asked to meet with a counsellor (his first appointment didn’t actually happen until early December).

He is on the last few sessions and my extended healthcare has run out. The counsellor called me yesterday; we played phone tag a few times and finally ended up speaking today, chatting a bit about what is going on and what some of his concerns were. She said that he is depressed, mildly now, but it was more severe when he first started going.

I had issues with melancholy in my teens too, and well into my adulthood. In my twenties we had at some point determined that I had Seasonal Affective Disorder (which was helped immediately -and amazingly- with light therapy). I had what I semi-jokingly coin my big meltdown in my late thirties (which at the time was termed “Major Depression”) and I still occasionally have struggles with regulating my mood, though my coping mechanisms have improved immensely over the years because I’ve spent so much time on “self-help”, adjunctly assisted by occasional therapy.

One of my son’s issues at the moment is anxiety over our not having enough financial resources… for food… for a roof over our heads… etc. … as a result of my unemployment. Yeah, it kind of sucks to be unemployed, and yes, it definitely affects the ease with which we can carry on with our daily lives, but we haven’t come to the point of having to be concerned about losing our place to live (even though it is crazy expensive on our current budget).

She encouraged me to speak to him about it. Not to merely placate him by saying things like “things will be okay” but acknowledge that there will be some struggle and offer what the solution will be – at least enough of one to put his mind at ease.

I want to posit that this escalation of worry is partly his dad’s doing, in that he discusses with our son my seeming incapability of being an adequate provider, and instead of offering support and assurance, offers his criticism and discusses the hardship the current situation causes him due to his having to assist more during this time of heightened struggle.

But also I think that my son has had it so good throughout his whole life that he doesn’t know that so many people struggle like this every day, all the time. Worse, even. Many, many … much, much worse. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we live in a very affluent neighbourhood, and that most of the kids that he goes to school with are so spoiled that they have lost sight of what is important and meaningful.

I grew up with socio-economic diversity, and witnessed it daily with the kids I went to school with. I came from a middle class home but there were little kids in my first and second grade classes who were undernourished, unkempt and shabbily dressed. I remember one time a brother and sister were segregated from the rest because they were found to have head lice and the school didn’t want there to be an epidemic. Some of the other kids were unkind to them, taunting them after that. I felt like my heart would break when I saw how they were being treated and I went over with my colouring book and coloured pencils and we coloured together, the three of us; it was my way of showing my solidarity – that we are all equal and the same.

I want to say that in our society we will always have “enough” if we apply ourselves “enough” so as to go out there and not give up, either on ourselves or on the things that we believe in.

I want to say that we have people that care around us. Kind people, who will help us when we need it, not because we owe them anything or that they expect to be repaid but because we mean something to them… because of how we treat others, and how we offer support where we can and embody a generous spirit, always.

I want to say that this feeling of hardship will be a familiar one throughout life, whether it is of a material kind, or one of spirit (and that is the hardest of the two to deal with), and that resilience is the greatest trait that one can learn to develop in life, and like any muscle, it requires a working out in order for it to gain in strength and be able to provide support when one needs it.

I want to say that being grateful and remaining hopeful is most of the battle, and that kindness will always beget kindness.

And I want to say that I love him, and would take the food out of my mouth and the clothes off of my back before I see him unfed and without shelter.

morning pages… thoughts on sharing…

InnerWindow
(collage-in-progress)

Bam! Bam! Bam!

The sound of metal hitting metal permeates the house. It is relentless. They are driving steel rods into the earth for the Skytrain station being built across the street, and the construction noise is nerve-wracking.

When the banging stops the silence in the wake of the noise is so loud that it almost hurts. I’ve been drowning it out with music but I want to write and I can’t focus as well on the writing when I am listening to music, so the unsilent silence is what I will have to live with.

Somewhere in there is a metaphor for my present moment, I’m sure.

I awoke late this morning, at a few minutes short of ten, and by the time I’d gotten the coffee making, breakfast eating sorted out, personal hygiene and other things done, it is now twenty-five after eleven. I want to work on my Cauliflower story. I have a group coaching call with Jill at noon and so there isn’t much time to get into the momentum of writing – it will have to wait until afterwards. I’ve written my dream log (first thing, upon waking) and I’ve checked my email, flicked and unsubscribed from the endless sea of spam messages as they came in, and went to the Esso station to pick up a half litre of half & half so I can have my coffee. I’ve eaten some yogurt and granola and I’ve showered. I’ve cleaned out the cat’s litter box and swept the entryway.

The days are flowing by more quickly than I’d like them to, although I am also anxiously awaiting the arrival of some money which will not be for another couple of weeks yet. It’s been difficult, but I am learning to sink into ease despite the discomfort. I’ve been creatively productive, though, if I have to dig around for a silver lining.

*oh! the mail… through the mail slot… always makes me jump…*

Well, the mail brought a bill for our health coverage services and I am unable to pay it, so I called them and they’ve put a temporary hold on collection services and I can also apply for the waiving of the fees during my unemployment. Which is a relief because I don’t want to have to choose between food and healthcare coverage, or rather be forced to pay for the coverage at the expense of having food.

Well. So here I am again in this really uncomfortable place of not having. And it sucks. And I’m tired of being here over and over and over again.

And I’m also trying to not feel sorry for myself. I’m trying to be optimistic while sharing my story.

And I’m noting that I am in constant struggle with my inner critic who says things like “I have not been doing anything constructive”, which is something that is mirrored by others around me. “WHAT have you been doing with your time?” they ask. “WHY haven’t you found work yet?” “You need a job – stop being so picky.”

All sort of true things. True in that it is obvious that I must work again (or generate an income in some way), but also not true in that I must be hasty in my selection of the work I choose. Yes, there is a sense of urgency but I have to trust that the steps I am taking, in concert, will yield the results that I wish to gain. And I’m figuring it out as I am going along. New territory is always tough to breach. I don’t have a map, really. Just some landmarks to follow as I stumble across the terrain, trying to get to the other side, to where I really want to be. Today that would be a nice sunny soft sand oceanside beach, with a good book and a picnic basket. With wine. LOTS of wine.

I know there are other people that are way worse off than I am or are having some insane life challenges that are way beyond my little woes (like a woman from one of our online art groups who had to go in to surgery yesterday to have her tongue removed because of the big “C” … or … after looking at the photo essay by Lisa Kristine on Modern Day Slavery, my life looks like a cake walk in comparison). So much courage out there and I feel laughably ridiculous with my little woes. First World Problems. But problems nonetheless.

They are my woes, and I still have to deal with them, and it still feels … hard. By honouring that I am allowed to find things difficult validates me in a way that I have not been able to find validation from any other source: it gives me courage to dig deeper and go just a little beyond myself.

Being vulnerable is often considered a character flaw. I don’t mean vulnerable in the sense of being at risk of injury but the kind that is to authentically share what it feels like being you, including the nasty bits that make you (and possibly other people) uncomfortable. Scary.

I have very little idea who reads this blog or how it is received. I don’t want to further burden an already over-burdened world. I do want to share, though, my unadulterated journey because I’m sure that there are others who feel exactly the same way I do about something but they feel isolated and marginalized in some way, and UNHEARD.

So this is what I want to create, I suppose … a vehicle to hear and to be heard.

I choose to do it by writing my own story. I open up a window for others to peer in to – sometimes that simple act allows others to create their own opening and show just a little more of themselves.

I consider the showing and the witnessing a sacred act.
And I consider that unfolding to be a victory.

Peace. xo

morning pages… thoughts on right-work

ReminderJournal

I’m sitting here at a quarter to noon with a black skin clarification mask smeared on my chin (an attempt to rid it of a spot that is and one that isn’t quite yet) post-yet-another-freebie-coaching call (this one with Stacy Nelson – who was awesome, by the way), freshly showered and dressed in what I fondly refer to as my gene string footless tights and a faded and hole-y lounging tunic.

I’ve been a blog whore lately, abundantly engaging in All That Is Free in the blogosphere (because, seriously, I’ve got less than thirty bucks to rub together until my very first EI check arrives some time during the first week of February, and I’m also wondering whether I should spend any of it on a card for my son’s birthday, which is the day after tomorrow, or just focus on what’s important and buy ingredients to make him a birthday cake instead). Decisions.

And really, that is all I have been focusing on… decisions.
Decisions I’ve made.
Decisions I have to make.
How my decisions will affect my life and the ones of those in my intimate circle.

The question that keeps coming up in all of these is:

What Feeds Me?

That’s a big question.

So much feeds me. And much also doesn’t.

Coming back to center and figuring out what truly feeds me rather than what I turn to when I seek to be fed is where I struggle. It has been a struggle that I’ve had for a very long time, and clearly I have not yet found a way to operate which truly allows for that balance to manifest.

And… I’ve been avoiding this sitting with myself bit. Over and over again. When I have (in the past), I’ve come upon the uncomfortable realization that nothing that I was or am doing, professionally (and I’m using that as a loose term because “legal administrative assistant” may sound like a profession, but really? let’s get serious…) is getting me closer to how I want to be and feel in the world. So I stuff it all down and hunker down for another bout of sucking it up and trying to be myself as best as I can in an environment that stifles and rejects uniqueness and most of the values that I, well, value most.

I make a choice. Then another. And another.

Like a pendulum, I swing wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other.

I make a choice that ends up taking me further away from center… it swings to the farthest reaches of discomfort and then, at the end of its course it has no choice but to start swinging backwards.

Then I make a polar opposite choice (or one is made for me) and I swing in the other direction… still an unbalanced way to work things, right?

One extreme; another extreme.

So despite my myriad yearnings for many other things or feelings… what I need to find first is balance. But what does that look like? How can I find middle ground without feeling like I’ve sold my soul?

Stacy asked me what it is that truly lights me up… what feelings are the ones that make me feel most seated in myself? They were:

The act of creating
Connection / Communion

Those two things are the feelings that resonate the most with me, and they drive everything that I do in my life, including that pendulum that swings back and forth, back and forth. I reach for those two feelings and sometimes get them sustainably, and sometimes get them at great expense. The process I am trying to wade through now is what expense is necessary in order to sustainably reach both of those feelings most of the time.

I mean… we all need a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. And I’d like to up the ante a bit and say that I want to maintain a nice, beautiful and comfortable home and good food, not just sumptuous and delicious but good, vital, food. I want to not have to worry about getting to the check out counter and have to remove things from the basket in order to have enough money to pay for the groceries. I want to not have to choose between a birthday card for my son and a delicious meal to serve him on his birthday and a birthday cake.

These are all things I didn’t think too much about until a few months ago. I had enough to have and do these things, in moderation, but not more. Everything was always carefully calculated and stretched out just so. I lived pretty much within my means (give or take about a $500 gap) but couldn’t account for any contingency plan should my income disappear or greatly diminish for any length of time. I tried to plan my escape route and line up another job, but it didn’t happen in time.

Since then I’ve worked with a legal placement agency (because that is where two decades of my experience lies) and I’ve been presented as a candidate for several positions.

The radio silence is numbing. In many ways it also shadows the very feelings I have when I am in the sort of environment that I’ve worked in for the last several decades. Numb. It definitely doesn’t evoke either of those two core feelings that I wish to feel that I listed above, and while I feel connection with the people I work side-by-side with, seldom do I feel deep connection to the companies I’ve worked for, or to the driving ideology that underlies them.

For one, many of them support the kinds of things that I am diametrically opposed to (like supporting natural resource exploitation spin doctored to sound like they are being done in a “corporately responsible” way but… yeah, right… and the corporate shortsighted focus on the bottom line at the expense of sustained socio-economic stability).

I don’t have answers to the socio-economic issues that plague the modern day world and expect that there are other far more skilled and able people out there working on viable solutions, but I do know that I don’t want to further contribute to its failings by being an active participant, even peripherally.

Which greatly limits my options at the moment.

So I find myself having to make some decisions.

I’m having to search out what my core values are, and realign with them once again.

I’m having to seek opportunities for earning a livelihood that will create the sort of feelings I want to embody, in which all of my needs are met. By needs, I don’t mean surface needs – I mean the ones that underlie those surface needs and anchor us to who we are in the world.

I’m having to not feel ashamed that I have needs in the first place, and that having needs doesn’t mean that I am needy.

I’m having to view my limitations, and really look at them to figure out whether they are actual or perceived, and figure out what to do about them.

I’m having to swim through an overwhelming sea of information and figure out what is pertinent, and pick out what will be useful to me to get me back to feeling those two key core feelings that I am most happy in.

I’m having to counterbalance my wish for right-work and right-livelihood with my skills and experience, and the marketplace, and see if there is any wiggle room in there that will allow me to contribute in meaningful ways without the credentials and the experience and, frankly, perhaps even a demand for what I have to offer.

I don’t suffer fools easily, and this paradox applies to myself, equally. I can very much be the fool at times, and being the fool puts me on a journey towards self-discovery. It always leads back to self… to spirit, and that connection that I yearn for with others as well as with myself.

This is a walk of the highest vibration, which I must struggle to maintain because if I don’t, I’ll make another counter-intuitive choice. I must constantly be aware of where my thoughts are, and how everything feels in my body.

And my body is telling me this:

It’s taken almost TWO MONTHS to recover from the dis-ease created by TWO YEARS (compounded upon TWO DECADES) of walking around in someone else’s life.
Find yours. Find your life. Find your place.

And really? I’m just trying to stop from become the screaming dude in Edvard Munch’s painting…

Peace. (or peach… as I incorrectly typed and then changed, but oddly, it’s fitting, because *juicy*!) xo

desire…

20140111-220533.jpg

Another Art Journal page … collaged some images and a coloured pencil sketch and because I was really impatient it’s all wrinkly but OH well… still in progress and will add some “core desired feelings” to the images (as referred to in Danielle Laporte’s interview on Sounds True).

your choices matter… even the bad ones

Rumi - Field

“Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make sense any more.”  ~Rumi

(Because y’all know I contemplate a lot – it’s just what I do I’ve been thinkin’…)

Someone on my Facebook friends list posted that relationship is her spiritual practice. This of course got me thinking (because … see above) about all of the relationships I’ve had in my life, as well as those I’ve observed first hand (like my parents’ relationship, for example).

I thought about my last intimate relationship and how it’s affecting my present moment.

I’ve thought about that person’s new relationship and how joyous it seems, how right, and effectively how wrong we now appear for each other, in retrospect.

I’ve thought about my abandoned marriage and the choices that paved their way to my finding myself here, now.

I thought about my mother’s relationship with my father, and how the choices she made affected both our (actually, our whole family’s) lives, and how both of us, at points of our lives not terribly far from each other’s in age, we made different choices, and how each of us chose to be brave in the best ways we knew how.

I thought about how other people have influenced most of my choices throughout the course of my life; how through fear-imbued rhetoric they managed to shape the way I viewed my potential and possibilities, and how, when my mother had to make a choice whether to leave her shambled marriage or to stay in it, middle-aged and with a young four year old child, she chose to stay, while I, faced with a similar choice, chose to leave. I saw possibility; potential. She saw hardship; strife.

I’ve often reproached myself, over the course of my life, for always being the one to cut out, though in truth I honestly do feel that I gave my marriage all I could with whatever I had at my disposal.

Many other choices preceded that last monumental one. Over the course of my life I had always opted for safety and comfort because I was afraid that I didn’t have what it took to withstand difficulty, but in so choosing it proved to me that I could. The choice of not making the right one created difficulties that were probably just as challenging and certainly more corrosive than the ones which would have resulted had I made the choices I ought to have made in the first place – had I had more courage to embrace what my heart truly wanted.

Each choice, however minute, however beneficial or detrimental, builds who you become. It shapes you, pebble by pebble, breath by breath.

In the end one hopes what the monument of self that we have built over the course of our lives is one we are pleased with when it comes to its end.

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The above sketch came to me during Jennifer Louden’s freebie introductory session for her Life Organizer Navigation Course. If you are so moved and are able to take it, DO it. I can’t at this time and hope to continue respectfully engaging in dialog with my shadow comforts and time monsters to reach an equitable working arrangement. Peace. xo

(and below is the sketch from above translated into colour in my art journal)

photo

morning pages and cultivating roots…

Jan3CultivateRoot

(pencil undersketch penned over and painted with tube gouache. #30DayJournalProject)

Slow. Rain. Comfort. Coffee. Dream fragments. Hunger pangs. Hair and clothes that need washing. Lists made. Things to be done. All folding into this space and time of semi-wakefulness. This moment. WHAT do I want? What do I want to DO? Besides sleep some more. Oh sleep, how I love thee. It took months before I broke out of the cycle of awakening early every morning, filled with anxiety as though I’d missed the alarm. My rhythms are different now… back to what they naturally are inclined to do – late nights and not wakening until it’s light, which on these shortened winter days is late. Ah, yes… light. Not much of it again, these days. I think that I ought to go for a run and try fitness again but all I want to do is sleep. Keep warm and cozy and dry. Definitely not wet. Why do people like running in the cold rain?

It’s almost 10am and I am only just dragging myself up and about.  It’s grey outside and the grumbling in my stomach reminds me to put the kettle on. Coffee first. Then, when there are enough neurons firing, something else… food. Yogourt and granola. Love this granola but seriously – $8 for the bag made me cringe, but I got it anyway because it has Good Stuff in it, and I don’t have much Good Stuff so I need to make it count. I have a sort of dietic apathy.  I love food but the preparing and cooking of it doesn’t interest me, so quick and convenient (which usually doesn’t mean healthy). I did buy some pita bread and will experiment with making my own chips (*must steep fresh rosemary in olive oil*). I do like the experimental aspect of it. And when people enjoy what I make. There’s only the two of us and it gets old always being the one to be doing the cooking.

*pausing to make some coffee*

The smell of coffee is still on my hands. I love how it smells. How it tastes, too, but the smell is what brings it all together – the scent, the taste, the way it’s warmth spreads as it progresses down to my belly.

I had an image come to me this morning, for my art journal page, as I laid in bed with my arms clasped together over my lower abdomen, feeling it rise and fall with each breath. The awareness of my breath made me focus on it even more, and I breathed relaxation into it. I saw it as if it was burning, like a fire enlivened by the wind from the bellows. I had until now thought that my creativity stemmed from the root chakra, the elemental connection of our bodily selves to the spark that materialized us, but I see now that it’s at the second chakra where my breath is feeding the raging fires that it births from.

I made plans. I wrote them out (in my Notes, on the iPhone).

One is to do these… morning pages. To write for an hour. Another is to write on one of my stories. I haven’t touched the Telescope story in a while, and I feel it’s time to revisit it again. I’m just going to write. What else can I do but write it out? Yet another to-do item is to research freelance opportunities for writers and artists. I want to know where the markets are, what they require, so that I can build a repertoire of material that will likely be attractive. Targeted work. I always thought that making “art” to order would take away from my creative process, but I think in some ways it will fuel it, make me stretch in ways I would not have had it just been for me and my being left to my own devices. I hope it makes me a better writer and artist.

And then there is the roast for dinner. I am going to put it in the oven around 4PM. It’s a mammoth rolled pork blade roast, and I now realize that I will have to return to the grocery store because I think it needs to be accompanied by brussels sprouts. Yes, definitely. It will be poked and inserted with slivers of garlic and resemble Pinhead – Clive would be proud. I wish I had some rendered fat to rub on its surface. I have some duck fat and it works well as a fat for many things but it just doesn’t sound like it would taste right with the pork, which is lighter and more subtle in flavour and the duck fat doesn’t ever quite lose that wildness. I wish I could find some juniper berries. Not tons.. just a bit. I had a recipe call for some and it’s not something that regularly shows up between the peppercorn and nutmeg and turmeric.  I have a serious spice hoarding issue. Well… not hoarding – collecting. But I use them. I’m the one who makes lavender and thyme shortbread cookies. I love lavender. In food. Well, in anything, Period.

*pauses to go grab the mail that just got violently shoved through the mail slot by the postal carrier – it always startles me*

Nothing particularly exciting, though Organic Gardening was in there, and I know that preparing for the next growing season isn’t all that far off. I’m so grateful that Tyler and Amanda are keen gardeners and that they allow me to stick my hands into the dirt here, and also reap some of the bounty. I’ve been thinking that perhaps my (two boxes of!) paper making supplies could be put to use during this lull and that I make some seeded paper to sell. On etsy, maybe. I always wonder about whether it’s worth opening up an etsy storefront or not. Whether it’s more trouble than it’s worth; whether you need the demand already in place for the supply to be worth the trouble. Not quite buying the “if you build it they will come” paradigm. But who knows.

Well, the hour is about up. I’m ready for some granola and yogourt. Maybe another coffee, and then I’ll tackle something else on my list. One of which should be to take a shower.

dreaming on…

The opening quote (from George Bernard Shaw) for a book I’m reading (“Body of Work” by Pamela Slim) says:

“Life isn’t about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself.”

 

I’ve been on quite the journey since being laid off. I saw it coming, so it wasn’t a huge surprise, though one is never really prepared to let go the safety rope when the time comes. And I’ve spent quite a bit of time, over the years, mulling over what I wanted to do with this one and precious life but I’m still dumbfounded, some.

There is a difference between dreaming wildly about something and determining and implementing specific steps towards something.

So I’m at that discovery place…

The “What can I do that someone might value and be willing to pay me for?” place.

The “What is it that makes me shine from the inside out?” place.

The “Where can I find ways in which to share the shine?” and the “Where can I find the support network that will help me build the infrastructure to enable this freedom making dream to materialize?” place.

I find there is a lot of fear around this cutting lose of dreams and audacity. Not just mine but others’. People want you to stay realistic, practical – the same. Well there is a place for practicality, once the dream is determined… the steps to implement are practical ones, and finding leads and sources of income are practical… even the doing of the work for which one hopes to be paid is practical… but the visioning and the dreaming… that must remain something impractical, and MINE. Something incorruptible and MINE. I must take ownership of it in order to make it happen, and it will never be if I continue to let others influence what MY dream must look like.

And then there is the ridicule, the doubt… the removal of support from those who think that machete-ing my way through an untread upon path will surely result in failure, because.. look at me, I’M the unemployed one here.

And it’s tough, this place. This place of beginning and not knowing… not knowing the what I have to offer, its inherent value and how to go about offering it.

So I look like I’m at a standstill, engaging in creative things like journaling and painting and writing. It’s not that I’m just playing and wasting time. It is my honest attempt to unlock those very answers that I’m sure I’ll find the keys to when I’m engaged in something else.

In the meantime, I hope to find support, whether financial or otherwise, from the people that are close to me, those who care. I hope they will stand in solidarity with me, until I’ve cut through to clarity.

Work and life are changing. We are at the cusp of a new work paradigm. We have the power in our hands to craft our lives into something radically different. Our reach is wider spread than ever. The potential for success is greater now than it has ever been. Why are we so afraid to take that step? (And by “we” I mean me, but if you identify with this perhaps you as well.) Let’s talk. Comments are open, below. Add your voice to the discussion. Peace. xo