Month: January 2016

The Unspoken Sound of Surrender

I’ve got nothing to say. Which is not like me, not at all.

There has to be something to say I thought, as I stood over the hot stove cleaning up the greasy meatloaf that fell off the spatula before dinner. All I could come up with was Oy vey. Whatever. Sh*t. I had just gotten the pre-prepared meatloaf at a fancy local meat shop and didn’t expect it to ooze so much fat as it cooked, leaving it swimming in the loaf pan. Why is everything such a struggle.

While I have enormous love in my life, the day-to-day is hard. We’re in a financial conundrum, neither of us can find work resulting in a passion-driven income, and it impacts us every day. Passion is paramount. Money matters. As does health. And it’s hard when all are on the fringes.

I don’t know what happened when I tripped a couple weeks ago and broke my toe, but I realized there’s a theme here. For a long time now I have been asking for a break. Give me a break I say a lot in my head, please a break. We need more income, a better job for Sir Husband, a good job for me, Jesus C just give me a break.

Well I got one. Two in fact. Literally. Bones. And that wasn’t what I meant. I suppose we need to be more specific when we are yelling to the cosmos. I’m uncomfortable from toe-to-head, my body is doing its own thing, my mind, my life, the same. When we reach the pinnacle of tolerance, even with gratitude recognized, we sometimes want a break. A lucky one, not a literal one.

“Mom, the meatloaf fell on the floor.”

I know. Give me a break.

Wait I take that back! Instead I have nothing to say. Because as I stood at the stove, spatula in my hand, I realized something that felt important, which I’ll try to put into words.

Surrender dear one, just surrender I heard. Who was that whispering in my ear? A wave of peace came over me, like a the softness of a breeze. Yea it probably sounds corny, but some moments seem simply beautiful, no matter what else is on your plate.

We don’t often recognize when our soul is speaking to us, but I heard it as plain as day in the midst of a dinner mishap.

Stop trying so hard, it said, just let it all unfold.

Now this is getting interesting, I thought as I stirred the mashed potatoes.

You mean stop worrying about how to find a job? Pay the bills? Buy a car? Stop panicking? Being sad? All I do is try…and try…and try… but still long for less struggle, more fun, more physical ability, more financial stability. If I don’t try hard to find it, how on earth will I ever have it?

I didn’t have the answer, the words just didn’t come. But the softly whispered feeling of surrender did, and that really said it all.

fall fly

Musings of A Menopausal Mistress

Aging as a woman is a completely wild ride. From the preciousness of a baby’s tender, soft feet to the subtly-curled toes I now have, described as “hammer” by the young, flippant bone doctor who was recently released from medical school. He’s wrong. My toes have been slightly curled since I was five. My white Mary Jane-style Stride Rite sandals were too small, and when I kept telling my mother that my toes were crunched, she thought I just wanted new shoes. Well guess what, my toes as they were growing, retained that too-small subtle curl.

Point is, our bodies tell quite a story. Mine is battling the likes of menopause, leaving my flexible and slender frame now flumpy. Yes I made that word up, but it describes about how I feel – a new and rather uncomfortable state that reminds me of the brutal teenage monthly period days.

Yet Sir Husband – who not only knew me back then, but was even smitten too – looks at me with kind, loving eyes, so I soften into my flumpiness, and try to feel inside the way he sees me. A menopausal mistress. We reconnected when I was on the fringes of this stage, he watched my hormones swing. It’s a little bit like pregnancy, without worrying about the scare. Thank goodness he finds it amusing.

The bloating and headaches and incessant hormonal nausea, did I mention the bloating? My yoga-flat belly now has a life of its own. A little padding on the hips, some spreading of those bones, my smaller size now up one, by sheer bone-shift alone. And when I doubly-broke my toe, could that mean it’s time for calcium? That’s only for my grandmother, my bones should be just fine.

What’s the bottom line? Life is a gift in any condition, and I recognize that as my body swings and sways through its daily existence. I look around me for confirmation that I’ve still got Goddess status, but that word doesn’t fit my bill. I simply want to feel good, and enjoy my body’s life.

My cat curls up on my legs every night when we are trying to sleep. Sometimes I’ll watch her sleep in the nook behind my knees, and I’ll notice how comfortable she is, without a care in the world that she’s aging. She simply lives her life in her body just as it is every day. Not that I’m trying to be a cat, but animals understand the game.

There’s not a lesson beyond noting our own softness wherever that is – physically or mentally or in our heart-space – and caressing our beingness just as it is at any stage. My bloated belly, my polished, semi-curled toes, still attractive in my feminine curvature. My husband loves his menopausal mistress-turned-wife, and I will try to love me too.

Maybe there’s a moral here after all, one that I now understand. Love yourself, because guess what, it’s the only you you have.

140929Kitty

Unsubscribed From Your Wisdom Today

You lost me at Hello this morning when I opened your email. I have followed you for the last few years, and subscribed to your guru wisdom. I used to look forward to your weekly email blasts filled with helpful information about what I could do to feel better, find abundance, and live happily ever after. But what you told me this morning made it clear we’re now on different paths.

Which kind of bums me out.

I’ve been watching your messages subtly shift as your bank account has grown, and now you seem to have forgotten there are some of us who can’t keep up with your elegant yet expensive lifestyle. So the advice you give – and it’s lovely of course – is now not ‘one size fits all.’ And in fact, made me wonder if you have forgotten about how the rest of us live, or at least a good portion of your subscribers.

I realize you’re doing something right because look at your hard-earned success. But when your teachings now rule out the majority, it makes me pretty sad. Not because I don’t want those things – the benefits of financial abundance – but because you presume we can all afford the luxury if we just take your advice. It doesn’t always work that way, but we all sure wish it did.

I don’t want to be like one of those haters who wishes tough stuff happened to other people so they would “get it.” That doesn’t always work and I don’t ever wish anyone pain. Not to mention we come into this life with certain privileges, not just from birthright. I mean soul-right. You may be entitled to your lifetime wins, because you worked hard in others to deserve it now. I believe in reincarnation and the evolution of our souls. Some lifetimes we may be more blessed than others, hoping the trajectory each time is always upward.

So I’m happy for your well-off to riches story, I really am. But your latest message gave me pause for thought. In fact, thanks to you I had another ah-ha moment, it’s just not what I thought it would be.

Ready?

It doesn’t matter. It absolutely doesn’t matter that things have changed and I have outgrown your wisdom. Or maybe you have outgrown mine. Life is just a big experiment and the variables are constantly changing. I never thought about it really but the fact is that nothing is static. Lives and lifestyles change all the time. And I don’t have to dwell on it. I loved realizing that I could let you go and be ok with it without holding on to regret, or residue or worry about what I’m missing.

So I unsubscribed from your list. And that’s important too, because I’m learning where to dedicate my energy, my time and my headspace, you taught me that you know.

Is every moment a teachable one or only for those who subscribe?

buddha

When Asking Why Isn’t The Best Answer

A few years ago I was working with a life coach, who in all of her wiseness and clarity suggested I stop asking “why.”  Wait, what? Stop asking why? Why?

She talked about living in the question – in a space and a place of neutral existence, of knowing but not knowing. In theory I understood trying to let our minds slow down and stop racing for answers or truths or meaning. In reality, how is that helpful in our quest for whatever we think we need answers for.

She assured me not asking why is helpful, so I trusted her and tried. She was right. Because taking off that layer of “why” allows our mental circuitry to take a breather. It leaves room for the answers to come, and sometimes they’re better or different than we thought. But sometimes it will bring more questions, and then we have to try to refrain from the “why” again. And again. And again.

Bottom line: questions always remain. So now what?

but why

Let me explain.

There are no good answers for why things like the legal system doesn’t work when you need it to. Or people hurt us, or fall out of our lives for seemingly no reason. Or we lose our jobs, or health, or worse. Sometimes when ginormous things happen it’s easier to accept that we may never know why. We deal with the shock and we work on moving forward in whatever direction we need to find our sense of comfort.

Then there are other questions, like why wasn’t I feeling thrilled about our new and luxurious hardwood floor. It’s beautiful, it’s what I wanted, so why was I just blah? Or, when my shiny new Macbook Pro arrived, why was the delivery person more excited than I was? When I signed on the dotted line there was no yay, just a monotone “great, thanks.”  Why?  This one-dimensional status is not my typical norm.

It could be any number of things from cost-anxiety to cold winter blues to hormones, or even something else that I’ll never figure out. What if it just is what it is?

Sir Husband is tired of my nighttime awakeness from the pain of my doubly-broken toe. It’s getting a bit ridiculous, I agree. As I kissed him goodbye and headed to the doctor for the second time, he sighed and said, “Please find out why you keep rebreaking your toe in the night.”

Guess what. I didn’t get any answers beyond what we already know. We wiggle in our sleep. But why? 

Here’s the answer to every why.

We are like an expansive container that holds all sorts of things inside. Besides bones and muscles, tissue and fluid, we contain an infinite amount of feelings – happy, sad, angry, eager, excited, surprised, disgusted, safe, scared, curious, jealous, bored, proud, complacent, calm, frustrated, satisfied – the list goes on and on. And those feelings are always in transition. They rely on so many factors, both internal and external, to keep them circulating around like the oxygen in our blood. They keep going, and keep us going, it’s just about what rises to the top of the container that day, or expands or contracts depending on the circumstances.

It’s about transition. We are always in transition. Changing. Moving. Evolving. And we can’t always know the answer.

“What did the doctor say? Why do you keep rebreaking your toe?” Sir Husband asked when I got home. With a wink and some wisdom I answered.

Why ask why? Just try to live in the question, sometimes that’s the only answer there is.

 

why

When Paying It Forward Brings Fate and Forgiveness

I had to adjust my glasses when I saw my youngest hand-writing a thank you note to someone he doesn’t even know. Besides the fact that handwritten notes are a lost art given email and texts, he’s 15 and has little interest in old-school etiquette.

noteBut the motivation of this endeavor was a brand new high-tech calculator that he received from a stranger on the opposite coast. What in the world would spur that? The new world order of school supplies, and a stranger’s generous spirit.

A long time ago school supplies consisted of pencils, paper, a cool backpack, and the perfect lunchbox. Now the list can break even the most savviest of savers. The big-ticket item other than a computer is a fancy calculator that is required for most math and physics classes. The correct term is graphing calculator, and these tech-geek gadgets are hot.

As a parent of a math and science student, this must-have item is a bit daunting. Our district doesn’t supply them, so the buck must stop with us. Apparently these high-demand items are in more demand than we thought. Because if they’re not glued to your person, they are swiped and sold on eBay.

This common occurrence was revealed to us when it happened to my boy. Someone stole his calculator when he forgot it in the classroom. So I posted a request for one on our town’s Facebook online yard sale, hoping for the best. Only the best was much more than I expected.

We never really know why people do the things they do. Someone I didn’t know saw my post explaining about the theft, asking if anyone had an old calculator they may want to sell. She put out a request of her own to all of her Facebook friends. When she received a message that a new one was on the way, she was as shocked as I. An old boyfriend she never spoke to answered that post, and asked nothing in return.

calculatorWhen she dropped off the brand new gadget in all of it’s high-tech glory, she said she could never forgive her old friend for something in their past until that very moment when she handed it to my son. Something came over her she said, and washed away her upset.

It brought a tear to my eye, both her newfound forgiveness and the touch of humanity so often lost in the world we live in today. I don’t need to know why this man chose to pay it forward, or generate an act of kindness toward someone he doesn’t know. But I don’t have to, because I understand the meaning of making someone happy for no reason at all. We never know what will go around, or come around, at any given time. The message for my son was a good one, one that was not lost on him, as he shared in his note.

“Maybe someday I will be able to do the same for a high school student in need,” he said. “I appreciate your kindness it means more to me than you know.”

His writing skills come naturally, if I do say so myself. But so does his value of the human plight and spirit. Mission: not only possible, but exceeded. And that’s the best kind of all.

flash cards

 

The Painful Lesson of A Broken Toe

Just when you think you have mastered the tricky balance of a broken toe – which by the way seems insignificant and you wonder why you are struggling so – you crack. Not just the psyche but the even the damn toe again.

What on earth caused me to wake up after the midnight hour with such debilitating pain I felt like a boulder had just smashed my foot? It certainly was not the light of the full moon glowing behind the sheer curtains and shades that cover our big bedroom windows.

I actually love moonlight. I just wasn’t planning on soaking it up as I quietly whimpered and wept in the wee hours from the pain. I actually did re-break my toe in both places, from simply moving around in my sleep. I didn’t know that our toes are fairly mobilized by our calf muscles, and when we flex them it pulls on the old metatarsals.

I’m perplexed why toes seem discarded when it comes to fixing them. My doctor was less than helpful, “There’s nothing you can do,” she said. So Sir Husband and I spent days after the unfortunate incident trying to find a way to splint the fourth toe on my right foot, which became maddening as we exhausted my options. A walking boot – didn’t help. Special tape – not so special. Buddy taping – made it worse. Ice, ibuprofen, valium, elevation, rest, wine. Nothing.

It’s now worse than ever and I’m getting worse for the wear. Typically a tough cookie, I’m feeling broken to the bone. A tiny toe…such big pain…I don’t get it.  What do you do with that when there is nothing you can do. No options? No choices? Now what. Please not a cast, I’m claustrophobic.

Even the simplest of functions, the ones I took for granted, are now hard. And I feel like such a wimp to boot.

“It’s tough to keep plugging away when life should be a damn bit easier,” a good friend texted when I told her my plight. She hit the nail on the head.

All I do is plug away but I think we’re supposed to plug in, to both our bodies and our lives. Ancient teachings of both East and of West talk about the body being a temple of sorts, one that is to be revered and respected, cherished and honored. I thought I did that, and I do, but maybe not enough. We’re a culture so focused on beauty and simultaneously on excess, so the message gets lost in the mix. Be sure you do all you can to be thin, but supersize everything else. I don’t do either, moderation is key, but it’s easy to get carried away.

Since the body houses the soul they say, which itself is a wondrous being, we need to honor ourselves as the vessel for which its contained. That’s a pretty big deal, housing our soul – a piece of the Divine – we are not separate from the Source.

So why do I keep plugging away, pushing and pulling in a tug of war with my body, its pain sending loud and clear messages. Slow down. Pay attention. Notice the stuff that I do for you – I keep you alive for crying out loud, did you forget about that by chance?  I’m actually a miracle.

Well now, that’s pretty significant and soothing. But so was the text from my friend. Sometimes all we need is a shoulder to lean on, and a soul prompt feels pretty good too.

toe walk

The Story of Love and Cable

One of the rarely discussed joys of a second marriage is cognizance. Being able to see things how they really are, not just how you hope they will be, is fantastic.

I especially love it when my friends who have been married to their original husbands for decades, share things like how Sir Husband and I will eventually tire of each other, want space in retirement, or my personal favorite – lose romance. I doubt it. We trudged through unhappiness to get to this point, it’s nothing but bliss ‘til eternity.

Married for several years now, we really only have one discrepancy. He wants enhanced cable TV, I am fine with bare basic. We both agree on no DVR, but he likes to have a choice of 70 channels, although he only watches five. What’s the issue you ask?

It’s expensive. The price point for cable TV is so high that it’s a questionable at best expense…to me anyway. To him it’s a pretty big deal. We aren’t a His/Hers type of marriage, we are united on most every front. But when it comes to this line item, it trumps even more useful-type things. Like vitamins. To me health comes before channels, but to him more channels helps health.

A year or so ago, I joined a team that sells what may be the most expensive vitamins on the planet, but are unmatched in purity and effectiveness. To be on the team we must purchase a monthly supply of the vitamins, which after trying them was fine, we noticed a marked improvement in how we feel. But then we ran into some home repairs that put a big dent in our budget. It came down to vitamins or cable, and the standoff continued for weeks.

It needs to be equal footing of course, but why not in my footsteps? If he just comes over to my way of seeing that cable is not all that, cognizance will prevail. Just kidding of course, our footing is both equal and fine. The real issue at hand is lack, and moving past our personal definitions of it. Lack can tug at your soul, and shadow the abundance you have.

We both came from marriages where love wasn’t real and truth was obscure, but money was plentiful. In fact, I think I had a thousand channels back in my other life and I didn’t understand it then, what’s the draw to excessive TV? So the money status of our marital pasts pokes at our psyches. Now we have nothing but real, honest love, and a much tighter belt on the budget. Choosing our expenditures carefully is a bit like learning to dance.

Who takes the lead? Whose toes get stepped on? And why are we so tuned in to this feeling of lack? It’s easy to pinpoint some answers, although I think they run more deep. My ex was a gambler, his ex a manipulator, so lack can feel quite real. We then cling to things that matter to us, like our vitamins and cable TV.

But as much as they matter, they really don’t we decided, because we’re not lacking in what truly counts. Plenty of love, romance and cognizance. When we noticed the abundance we already have, the standoff was quickly resolved. Vitamins are replaceable and less channels are fine. We’ve mastered our perfect dance.

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It’s Apples to Apples Except When You’re A Pear

My mantra for the new year is I’m not comparing. In fact I said it out loud when Sir Husband and I found a beautiful arrangement of several types of perfectly-made homemade cookies wrapped in a big gold bow on our front porch the other day.

It wasn’t that I envied the cookies, I can bake, although not in a magazine-photo-worthy kind-of way. It was that the giver of this bountiful gift works full time and has a full plate in her everyday life, yet still can find the time to bake masterpieces, wrap them in style, and even include handmade labels with the name of her antique farmhouse on the wrapper. She cooks, entertains, and always seems marvelous.

As if that wasn’t enough, I later heard from another friend that she has taken on not one, but two foreign exchange students for three months, on top of already having four busy, young children, a dog, three cats, a dozen chickens, and a part-time job. Seriously?

I’m not comparing. I can’t. Because if I did, I might as well throw in the towel, pull the covers up, and call it a day. I used to cook and bake, entertain on every possible occasion, maintained a meticulous home in a Martha Stewart kind-of style, down to the tiniest detail, all while raising three boys, two cats, and a husband, working for free doing special needs advocacy. That was then. And that life, it eventually wore me down.

So I’m not comparing.

Only maybe I am –  but not to my friends, to me. I miss that person inside of me, the one who seemed able to strive and achieve, and feel good about it. Shouldn’t I be the new and improved version of myself now, better, stronger, or at least more accomplished? After all I’m older and wiser. But my internal GPS seems a bit lost on productivity, inspiration and energy.

I was relieved when I realized the comparing was not about my friends, and turns out it’s not even about me. Comparing is just a fact of life. We are culturally wired to do it. We learn it early, it defines friendships, shapes alliances, builds self-esteem, even writes the narratives for our beliefs and inner truths. So it makes sense that we may compare.

But the fact is, it’s really in our imagination. Its foundation isn’t even real. What we see in the outside world, or even in our past, is only a snapshot point-of-view. The whole picture isn’t available to us, we only live in our own shoes, in our own lives, in this present moment. We can idealize who someone is, or who we once were, or even who we can be. Comparing is a really just a point of reference, that when used productively, allows us to redirect our thoughts as often as it takes to define ourselves in a way that matters only to us.

It’s not about the cookies or the parties or even who I was. It’s about self-acceptance in the here and now, and a heart that pumps self-love. “Remind yourself that you cannot fail at being yourself,” Wayne Dyer said. Hallelujah. Now I just need to believe it.

be yourself

A Broken Toe Can Snap Your Balance

When the one thing that helps my body each day like a soothing medicinal elixir – yoga – propelled what I thought was a sprained toe into a snap-crackle-broken one, I was bummed. So bummed that I pretended it didn’t happen, until a couple of poses later when I couldn’t get off the floor without squealing.

I had tripped on our heavy iron boot tray just an hour before, and I didn’t realize how hard it hit. An athlete I am not. A seasoned and solid yogi and pilates connoisseur, I am. So I know that feet matter, they are the foundation of everything. What I would do now without my daily dose of whole-body zen? I’m not a yoga addict, I’m just attached to healthy habits and feeling better.

Healing is not a foreign concept to me – the body, the mind, the spirit – I have honed enough how-to-heal skills to know I need to take the break seriously. Literally. It’s a message of sorts, all of our woes and maladies offer us a chance to stop and reflect where we are putting our time and our energy. And our body often decides for us.

After the ice pack and ibuprofen took some of the sting out, I gave the issue some thought. We spend a lot of time running around on our feet, they pretty much carry the load. Our feet help keep us grounded, they’re our solid footing, offering stability and connection to the earth, wherever we may go. Our toes – vital parts of our feet – keep us balanced. They actually help center our feet on the floor, centering us in our daily life. When they give out, we notice.

It’s possible that we take our feet for granted. We are often running, all the time, on the go, maybe not even paying attention to whether we are on track or off-kilter. I clearly wasn’t paying attention when I broke my toe not once, but twice. I was so focused on my pace that I lost my sense of balance. My pressing desire to move forward threw me off center, literally.

It took a few minutes to come to my senses although the excruciating pain persisted. I didn’t want to waste time going to the doctor or have any x-rays done, but I did because that little voice in the back of my head nagged at me… what if…what if…what if. When I realized how much we rely on our feet in the day-to-day, I decided they’re a big deal.

Maybe that was the message, to notice the little big things that really make a difference. I’m now rethinking my feet and renewing my commitment to recognizing the value and importance of grounding and balance each day. That perpetual gratitude list now includes my feet.

But my yoga…what would I do? In my newfound paying attention I thought of something else. My broken toe and weakened foot can rest, but what about the rest of my body?

Hello arms and hands. Welcome to my list. It’s all up to you right now, thank you for your help.

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Not So Sweet Dream Revelations

Dreams are so weird. Are they some kind of flush from the subconscious or are they messages from the great beyond? Does their symbolism mean anything? Or are dreams just random images that have no known origin beyond some intricate brain-based camera system that replays them when our eyes are closed?

I woke up wondering this after having two dreams with the same giant snake that used its fang to poke holes in things – kittens in particular – quietly pumping poison in without any kind of violent force. Eeeww. Makes me cringe just to recall it.

After recently seeing the Harry Potter movies in a binge-watching capacity, I either retained the story’s giant snake in my mind, or this is my own contrived version of someone or something in my life slithering to the surface of my consciousness.

When I woke up the first time I spent a few minutes shuddering, then pondering, then trying to let it go. The second time I decided to google what it means to dream about snakes. I went to a dozen websites that interpret dreams, only to find so many different meanings that I was left in an interpretive void. Now I was worse off for the not knowing, because of course I wanted to know.

So I delved into dreaming itself. Oneirology, or the scientific study of dreams, has revealed that we mostly dream during REM-stage sleep with heightened brain activity. Our dreams only last about 30 minutes and we can have several each night. We can remember a dream, although we usually don’t, unless we wake up while it’s happening. We don’t have much control over our dreams unless we are lucid dreamers, meaning we maintain self-awareness.

Throughout time, different religions and cultures interpret the act of dreaming with various perspectives. There are psychological, neurological, spiritual, and biological theories hanging out there, so it’s sort of left up to us how we want to perceive our sleep stories.

That meant I had to take matters into my own hands. If I could not get any straight answers about two dreams where the same huge scary snake silently poisons things around me, I would analyze them myself.

What happened the day I had the first dream? We had just received a big nasty-gram from Sir Husband’s Scary Mrs. Ex and his mother. The box was filled with carefully-thought out, hurtful things trying to manipulate him back into their lives and away from his life with me. And I’m not kidding when I say this, when we opened the box it was as if a poof of black toxic smoke swirled out revealing the unsettling contents. In that moment we felt like the life was squeezed out of us, although they have been at this for years.

voodoo But this time it felt exceedingly bad, cursed even. Call it voodoo, but the minute we opened it we knew. All kinds of strange things started happening in the house, just like you would see in a movie. We felt a dark heaviness in the air, things broke, things disappeared, we couldn’t sleep, Sir Husband actually got sick, and I twice dreamt about the snake. Call us crazy, but we knew.

When we removed the box and all of its contents from the house things changed. The heaviness disappeared, Sir Husband was healed, order was restored in our home and our lives, and that snake was gone for good.

Believe it or not, curses are real. And dreams, that’s all up to you.

princess snake

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