The Crazy Stops Here

I found myself crying last night. The first good cry I’ve had in a long while and even then, I cut it short.

Probably not a terrific idea, but that’s what I do sometimes when faced with a situation I cannot change.  I reach down, yank up my Big Girl Panties, and proceed to Get Over It.

The fact that I’ve been down this road a time or twenty helped, in a twistedly fortuitous way.  And I hadn’t been caught off guard.

Early last week, the faint sound of a whistle could be heard.  Like a dog that hears a high pitched noise out of range to human ears, my intuition pricked up last Monday, sending off an Early Warning Signal.

I remember thinking to myself, “Oh Jesus, here we go again.”

And sure enough, the Crazy Train pulled into town yesterday.

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes if feels as if Life is a series of  Lessons learned over and over and over again.

The bad news is, after  graduating from one particular Lesson Learned,  it’s more intense the next time it rolls around.  It’s got  sharper teeth.  It’s bite is harder.  It looks bigger…scarier.

The good news is, I’m not always in a season of Learning.  If I do the work and pass The Test, a calm rolls in and I am graced with a time of integration and transmutation and peace.  I’m given the opportunity to take the crude base material of what I’ve just experienced, and turn it into the Gold of wisdom, insight, and strength.

Some of the lessons I keep running into are:

Being Present

Practicing Gratitude

Jumping Into the Unknown

And the Grandmama of all lessons (I’m pretty sure I’m taking PhD level courses now):

Letting Go

Two small but potent words.  An act that is at once filled with power and surrender.  It is a release.  A relinquishing.  An act of TRUST.

By nature, I am a Fixer.  Show me a dirty room and I’ll want to clean it.  Present me with a puzzle, and I’ll work like hell to solve it.  Come to me with a problem, and I will lose sleep while trying to come up with solutions.

To let go of a situation – or a person – means that I allow it to BE without trying to change it by an act of my own work and will.  It means that I recognize that there are some things I cannot change, and those things are better off left in the hands of my Higher Power.

God, I don’t know how Atheists do it! (No pun intended).

I mean, really!  I don’t care if one’s HP is single or many, wears a feminine face or a masculine one, or presents itself with a long trunk, hooves and sporting a leotard!  To walk through this life without the belief that there is a benevolent  Something Bigger Than Oneself Who is actively aware of and engaged in our existence is both frightening and sad to me.

I’m not just talking out of my ass. either.  I know from personal experience what it feels like to be God-less from a Dark Night period I went through a dozen years ago when I lost my religion.  In the midst of a season of great turmoil and personal failure, God was no longer real to me – for the first time in over 40 years.  If I weren’t such a chicken, I might have offed myself. I certainly thought about death enough – longed for it, even – as I sought relief from deep, searing emotional and psychic pain.

But here I am. Alive and well and a firm believer in the Good that is God (although my concept of God is far less rigid and way more filled with Mystery and Unknowing.  And I’m good with that.)

So the act of Letting Go, for me personally, means that I relinquish the need for my own Will to be Done in a situation, and I release all to be done in accordance to Divine Will and Timing.   It means that I acknowledge that everyone comes to this physical world with their own mixed bag of Sacred Contracts, Karma, and free will.  And that in the end, all is as it should be.

What it absolutely doesn’t mean is that I won’t act or that I don’t care.   Just the opposite!  It means that I recognize that the highest path, the Best Way, might mean I have to step back and get on with the business of  living my own life, changing those things where I can.   I live, I pray, I give thanks, I believe.

Because in the end, it takes more strength to let go, than to hang on.

Letting go

The Times They Are

I’m nothing if not comfortable with change. In fact, the need for variety and new things and new experiences is imprinted on my DNA.

But that doesn’t mean that changing ME…my life….comes easy.  If anything, “I” am the Final Frontier:  That place where the gap between what I want to do, and what I actually do, can seem like a Grand Canyon-esque divide.  Chalk it up to an addictive personality, a weak will, or laziness – it really doesn’t matter.  I’ve started (and failed at) more changes in my lifestyle, my habits and my activities than is possible to count.

But I can change, and I can change significantly, as history proves out.  Thank God for past successes!

I’m in one of those periods now where the need for a change is an urgent push inside of me.  And I’ve been here for awhile.   I don’t like it – I don’t like me – if I let The Push push me around for long.

So, I’ve made some small changes recently that are already beginning to pay off.  Some pertain to my health  and physical self care (walking in the mornings before work, no more cream in my coffee, taking baths vs. showers, eating better).  Others pertain to my emotional and spiritual well being.  (An “electronics” detox whereby I’ve closed my Facebook account, spend almost no time on my iPad, and have deleted certain apps from my phone that were distracting.)

And then there’s The Queen of All Life Changers!   I’ve resurrected my early morning “quiet time”, replete with journaling by hand, praying, and using a couple of new decks that are proving to be very powerful and helpful.

All of these “little” decisions, made moment by moment (some with more grace than others) are seeds I’m consciously planting during a very auspicious cosmic and personal season.  See, I know – without a Shadow of a Doubt – that decisions…thoughts…create things.  I know that I can manifest things in the physical plane simply by what I am focused on because it literally happens all the time without me really “trying”.

Case in point.  I have a mad love for vintage pottery.  My home is filled with treasures found at places like The Good Will, the flea markets, or randomly chosen garage sales.  I’m also an avid Ebayer.  Last week I began looking at canister sets for the kitchen.  I thought maybe if I could find them at a steal, I’d pick up a set made by Los Angeles Potteries to match a bunch of other stuff I have from the same maker.  A couple of times this past weekend, I even thought I found what I wanted.  However, when the questions I asked didn’t get answered in a timely fashion (in Aries Speak, that means “Right Now”), I left off and went on with my day.

Early Sunday morning, I felt the urge to go to the Good Will. It always pays off to follow those urges and when I finally got around to it mid afternoon, I found them as soon as I walked in, pushed to the back of a lower shelf like they were being held for me.  A beautiful set of Jay Willfred Majolica canisters, in one of my favorite colors and patterns, in absolutely mint condition.  And all for a whopping $19.99 (value would be well over $150).  They weren’t exactly what I was looking for, but they are exactly what I wanted!

ImageExperience has shown that by making one decision at a time in the right direction, I can dramatically alter the Way Things Are.  And my first steps always seems to be  Acceptance of What Is, Surrender, and a willingness to change when the act of self propelled change seems impossible.

Experience has also proven that I get out of touch with something vital when I don’t spend this time in the morning.  There is a place just before dawn that is filled with Holiness and Magic….A place so familiar, but new at the same time, for I am never the same person going into this place each morning.

And I’m definitely not the same person when I come out.

Mist In The Sun

Sun_rays_and_mist_by_VelornVDMy mother is dying.

I spent most of yesterday with her, and she looks even thinner and frailer than when I saw her on Mother’s Day.  It’s as if she is literally disappearing, moment by moment, right before my eyes.

And she knows it, my Mom.  She knows it and she hates it.

Death is nothing if not the ultimate loss of control.

And if there is one thing that defines my mother,  is its her iron will to control of her life circumstances.

Sometimes I wonder if the elderly that lose their mental acuity first aren’t the “luckier” ones.  To have a huge iron-fisted will and a (mostly) sharp mind trapped inside a tiny clay body that won’t work – that causes one to RELY ON OTHERS – must be a living nightmare.  One that Mom is dreaming.

I am glad I prayed for patience and guidance before I went over to do some cooking with (for) her.  It helped me to remain calm in the midst of the shit storm that hit me as soon as I walked in.  So much negativity.  So much pain and angst.  So much…bitterness?  resentment? anger?

FEAR?!

I think her fear makes her angry.  Fear and the constant pain she is in.  She must know deep inside, like I do, that she will not be able to continue living by herself for much longer.  Til Christmas would be a miracle.  And this knowledge makes her angrier.

And yet, for all of my ideas – for all of my suggestions and research and gentle nudges over the years – she won’t talk about it, as if merely talking about assisted living – or death – will bring them on much faster.  Long before she was physically incapacitated, I had suggested a move closer to me…a proactive step to take while still in full control of her faculties.  And I’ve suggested it over and over the last decade.

But she refused. And so we float along – one day at a time – without a plan in place.

When I left 5 hours later – meals prepared and divvied up,  pantry cleared of all canned goods with expired dates (some as far back as 2006), and another huge load of clothes that no longer fit her in the back of my car – she had actually perked up a bit.  It’s as if she is energized by my presence…feeding off my energy…..so that her countenance is a little brighter, and laughter slips through her lips a bit easier.

Gone (mostly) are the cynical victim-oriented comments, the angry outbursts, and the totally off-the-wall silhouettes that she projects onto her world from the darkness of the fear that grips her heart.

My mother is dying.

And just as I have been doing since I was a little girl, I find myself saying to myself, “PLEASE!  Don’t let me be like my mom!”

Quickly followed by a wave of guilt and another plea: “PLEASE!  Help my mom!”

PLEASE!

International Women’s Day 2014

High Priestess

This is the High Priestess card
in the deck I am creating

Make no mistake.

I am a Woman Who Runs With the Wolves.

Did you think I had forsaken the pack?

Not on your life.

Not in a million life times.

I’m here.

In my extravagant body and my lavish creativity

Telling my stories and stomping my feet.

Standing strong, standing guard,

Crouching low,  my ear to the ground,

Hands on the drum,

Lips to the flute,

Giving birth to my one true and sacred life

Bearing witness

To the birth of your own

Where are you, My Wild Women?

Being Home

It’s Monday morning, and I’ll soon be getting ready to head out to begin another week at the office.  You’d think that after spending most of last week at home in bed that I’d be happy that I feel well enough to get back to “normal”.

I do, but I don’t.

I do in the sense that feeling healthy is far preferable to feeling sick.  For someone who is rarely ill, last week was an anomaly, and I’ve now used all but 1 of the 6 paid Sick Days I’m allotted for the year.  It’s only March, so you do the math.  My available “Mental Health” days  have just been drastically reduced.

But the truth of the matter is, I really would rather not go to the office this morning.  It’s not that I’m adverse to working, and it’s not because I don’t feel well enough.  It’s something else.  Something that being at home last week – mostly alone and mostly resting  (which in and of itself is something I haven’t done in forever) – brought to the forefront of my awareness in a huge way.

Whether it was the bedrest, the Downton Abbey marathon (I consumed every episode of all 4 seasons within about 4 days), or the simple pleasure of being in my own home for more than a weekend at a time, I am going back to the office  this morning different than I was last Monday.  I am a relaxed woman (I don’t believe I’ve clenched my jaw in days,  and those persistent knots in my shoulders are gone).  A refreshed woman.

This is the next card in the series of oracles that I am creating. It’s called, “Release”.

A released woman.

There’s a  softness in my being.  A lightness in my thoughts, my speech, and my attitude.  My words are coming back, much to my delight, and I feel a fresh wave of compassion and patience and love for those around me.

I feel soft in my belly.  Literally!  My belly is soft, not all tucked in tight like I was waiting to be punched in the gut. It’s as if I’ve returned to a much beloved and welcoming place after a long arduous journey.  A place where kindness and truth and grace abide.

Every now and then I wonder who I would be if I just had enough time to myself in the peaceful comfort of my own home. Time free from feeling driven by chores or tasks or projects.  Free from my job.

I think I know now.

I would be ME.  The “real” me,  the ME that I am when my energy is free from the toxic environment I’ve been working in for 8 years now.  And it is.  Toxic and dysfunctional, like a whirling shit storm that’s always whizzing by my head.  The Truth is:  My job has been poisoning my soul, and harming my body, in ways that only became apparent after being in the still quiet, the comforting arms, of my home.

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I read this poem yesterday, and it touched me to the quick.  It blew on an ember that’s been lying in wait in my breast – a recognition in my spirit.  I AM one of the heavy-breasted cauldron keepers, a shape shifter, an Earth keeper, a Wolf woman.  And I want to weep this morning, and do even now as I write this, for the longing for a way to keep a hold of myself,  to better protect myself, from the ugliness that wears away at my soulbeauty 5 days a week.

And I pray.  I pray for Home.

I am dreaming back my sisters
Whisper-worn footfalls on the Temple steps
Skywalkers
Storm dwellers
Heavy-breasted cauldron keepers
Songweavers
Snake sisters
Darkmoon dancers

Labyrinth builders
Star bridgers
Fiery-eyed dragon-ryders
Wind seekers
Shape shifters
Corn daughters

Wolf women
Earth stewards
Gentle-handed womb sounders
Dream spinners
Flame keepers
Moon birthers

Come home sisters, come home

~Marie Elena Gaspar

The Re-Purposed Life

A  month ago, my husband and I took over the gardening responsibilities for the house that we’re renting.  For a slight reduction in rent, we now get the pleasure of taking care of the yards in a manner that would be far more reflective of owners than renters, and we’re very happy about it.  Everything already looks much better, and we don’t have to worry about fixing the work by the “professionals”.

Our first project was to clear a 9 ft. x 14 ft. area next to the back patio that was filled with lava rock,  deadwood rose bushes (I use the term generously), and – as we soon discovered – the nursery for the black widow spiders we kept finding.

When the area was cleared and leveled, and the lava rock carried – bucket by bucket – to use in the front yard.  Where once there was bare dirt along the front and side of the house, we now have this pretty decorative rock.   We then installed four raised garden beds Mr. Man built so that I could have my own little “Victory Garden”.

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This is the first time I’ve had proper vegetable garden, and I’m so stoked!  After buying organic, non-GMO seeds from SeedsNow, studying companion planting, and laying out each bed with a great program over at SmartGardener.com  (it’s free!),  I went about sowing the seeds according to the directions:  9 different varieties in the first 2 beds, with 4 types of tomatoes sprouting indoors that will join  carrots, cucumber and bush beans in the other two beds.  I’ve also planted 9 different herbs that I use in cooking, and that provide natural pest deterrents and nutrients.

The seed packets all read “Germination: 7-14 days”.   So every day, for the last 13 days (sometimes 3-4 times a day), I’ve gone to my garden to look for signs of life.  And every day, for 13 days, I’ve been disappointed.

Around day 8, I felt the first stirrings of doubt and discouragement.  I started wondering:  Did I do it wrong? Were the seeds bad? Did birds eat the seed? Was the soil too rich, too dense, too…something?

But it wasn’t until Day 13, when the first in a series of torrential rains hit California, that I lost hope altogether.  Whatever had happened (or, in this case, hadn’t happened), I would need to start over.  And this time I would use seedlings from my local nursery because – you know – I can’t do it right.

And then this morning, on the 14th day – the Day after The Storm  – I walked outside in bare feet and a cloudy disposition to get some fresh air to discover something miraculous.  Somehow, in spite of 13 days of nothing and 24 hours of beating rain, new life had made It’s appearance!

photo 4This morning I can see the wee little heads of a few Romaine,  a couple cabbages and onions, and one Sugar Pea.  OMG, I’m as excited as Miley Cyrus with a new tattoo!

Suddenly, I have hope – renewed hope – that the other seeds will make a go of it.  But even if they don’t, I think I’ll use the seedlings that would normally be removed in the thinning process to fill in the empty spaces.

Less variety, maybe, and not exactly what I had planned, but we’ll enjoy the fruits of a full and abundant garden none the less.

Valentine’s Day

Acrobatics on Bondi Beach, Australia, ca. 1935 (2)16 years ago today, I had an accidental first date with the guy who is now my husband.  Seems like a lifetime ago.  And – in some very real ways – it was.  Two lifetimes, even.

In that time, we’ve married twice, divorced once, watched all three kids grow into adults (2 of mine, 1 of his) , and had the extraordinary pleasure of receiving two lovely grandchildren.

Homes have been bought, sold, and rented.  Jobs have been lost, and started again.  A couple of knees have been replaced (his) and a couple of hearts have been torn and mended (both of us).

More than once.

Waistlines have expanded and gone soft, and once perky, delicious asses and tits fallen prey to gravity.  Our hair is turning white, our faces are wrinkling, and we’ve experienced the shocking realization that our libidos – once nearly unquenchable – are MIA most of the time.

And that’s OK.

Today being Valentine’s Day, I’m reminded of all of this.  I left him a little card on my way to work this morning, and we might celebrate tomorrow night with a dinner out.

Or not.

It really depends on how we’re feeling after doing whatever it is we’ll be doing tomorrow – working on cars, working on gardens, doing our chores, doing our life.  Not very romantic, I guess, but he’s the kind of guy that ends every phone call and most texts and emails with “Love you!”.  I know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that he does, and I don’t need flowers or chocolates or any special day to be reassured of it.

When you’ve been with someone long enough…when you’ve climbed the highest highs and crawled out of the deepest Hells together  (or at least borne witness to one another),  you learn that committed partnerships are rarely like those portrayed in novels or movies or sappy FB posts that have little to do with reality.

Experience has shown that, over the years, LTRs float between the moorings of LOVER, FRIEND, CHILD, COMPANION, ENEMY, PARENT, ANNOYANCE and GIFT – and back through all again.

Don’t get me wrong.  All the cupidy, flowery, sugary stuff is great. Romance in cool, intimacy is cooler, and I’ve had more sex in my life than several women combined along with being wooed, wined, dined and given extravagant gifts.

All of that is groovy.

But that’s not where I am in my life right now.  It’s not what I really need.  Most days what I need – and have – is the support of a partner who understands what’s important to me, and gives me the space to be who I am in this season of life.  To DISCOVER who I am in this season.  And I’m doing my best to reciprocate.

We are separate but together.  Traveling companions.  Sometimes hand in hand, sometimes carrying one another, and sometimes one of us is walking a few paces ahead on the road.

That’s me right now.  Maybe because I’m older (56 to his 49), or maybe because we’re just different people, but I need space.  And support.  And knowing that he’s still there nearby heading in the same direction.

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” – Antoine de Saint- Exupery