Life evolving

I’ve been sick this week, and had stayed home for two days, pretty much reclined on the couch with tissues, liquids, tv shows, and furry kitty.  My husband was home sick too; a rare occurrence by itself, but the two of us down?  Unheard of.

As long as I can recall, if I am ever sick enough to be home, I will reach a point of utter despair when all I can do is weep.  I would slide into a well of weakness, feeling pathetic; self-judgmental, really just the lowest I could ever feel about myself. It wouldn’t matter if I was home alone or had company, sooner or later, it would hit me.

On the second day this week, I realized that I hadn’t cried.  At that point, I was still feeling shitty but over the worst, so was a little surprised.  I attempted to evoke pitiful feelings but they just wouldn’t materialize.  This has always been one of my traits and yet, it appeared to no longer be of use to me.

Life, when allowed to evolve on its own is a beautiful thing, the realization struck last night whilst driving to pick up a friend.  Perhaps the reason I didn’t feel like crying was because I’d given myself permission to be empowered, to make a choice, to take control of my own life.  That being sick was just that; a period of time when the body is fighting invaders and nothing more.

It may seem like a small thing; to feel no need to cry when sick but it’s a step, and that’s what evolving is, right?…steps toward change?  For a few moments yesterday, I felt in such a positive place.  I knew with clarity that life can’t be forced.  I have set things in motion, I have dealt my hand and now I am witnessing my life blossom, apparently without my even knowing.

Marvelous!

 

Collectively Speaking

So I read another headline (they’re everywhere) with words that serve only to kindle fear, panic, and irrational reactions. By all accounts, the world is in a complete tizzy and it’s coming from all angles and sources; above ground, underground, in the air, from the people, by the people…and on and on.

Imagine this….imagine when we’ve come to a crashing stop for whatever reason. The Earth no longer supports human life or animal life – except maybe the cockroach; it seems pretty hardy. But not mankind. Imagine collectively, the human race’s mind as a light entity drifting up to wherever to face some sort of judgment, to look back, to fully realize the enormity and breadth of its existence; its impact, its awesome power.

I like to think that collectively, mankind might feel remorse and think, oh yeah…the mindful stuff, the Love and Peace stuff.  Huh….maybe we should’ve done that instead.

In that state, I don’t think there is any other way to feel. Above the sphere crammed with bodies, its gravity stuck with its flesh and bone population, it is only then that we certainly, definitely feel peace, love and absolute awareness.

I am a bystander. I observe angry people in their cars, hackles raised, ugly faces, boiling blood reactions.  I read trolls in comments whose only purpose is to stir up hatred and volatility. There was a time when I would have jumped right in with them and had my say; flung criticisms at complete strangers to fuel the anger. I have hopped in my car seat like a hot bean at other drivers, and on more than one occasion informed them of precisely how I felt by way of a finger, or a look, or an aggressive driving maneuver.

Now I am older and wiser.  Not meditating anymore, and often forget to be aware, but the work I’ve done in the last few years has laid a lasting foundation of love, peace, hope, harmony, mindfulness, and ironically, forgetful awareness.

Maybe all who have passed are simply circling the Earth in another realm, all-knowing that there is no deity, no idol. All that exists is pure consciousness and they are biding time until the human race is devoid of that flesh and bone.  Perhaps then, everyone that has ever been in all of humanity, alive and dead, will come together and the light in the Universe will shine so brightly that the darkness mankind created will be revealed.

Perhaps, even now, in the midst of so many crises and horrors, we are gathering knowledge to take with us to another place, in another time, in another dimension, and in another form.

Hopefully we will go there with a better blueprint.

Gooses and Ganders

The bodypump instructor looks at me as we’re coming to the end of the class. Training our shoulders is the last thing we do with weights. Contrary to her recommendation, I have not loaded my bar. In fact, throughout the entire class, I have put whatever weight I feel comfortable with on that bar. I don’t hold with the run of the mill mindset that heavier is better. That the more you lift, the stronger you will become. Sure, your body will adapt over time but I don’t want to do that, I’m fine with a lighter weight, and lots of reps. She looks at me, and I see a sort of chiding in her eyes. We are both English too, so there’s a weird connection, as if we are comrades and I should do as she does because we are of the same cloth.

I run through a list of silly excuses if anyone should ask, because I feel that everyone sees even though I know that even if they do notice, what they have seen will be forgotten as soon as they leave. I think I can tell them that I am recovering from surgery, or an illness, or that my doctor has warned me to take things slowly. I laugh at myself for doing this, and for second guessing my actions. But it’s too late, I don’t have time to put extra weight on just to follow the herd. So, I carry on and I can feel my muscles working, and it is good. The next day, and the day after, I know that I didn’t slack off really because everywhere is sore anyway.

The other mother approaches the bus stop one morning last week. I am wearing my three quarter length workout pants, sneakers and a sweatshirt. I am planning on going for a run immediately after work, and there will be no time to change. Plus, my boss is out of town so I can pretty much wear what I like. But, I’m conscious that the pants are a bit too flary around the shins. I have never been able to find the regular leggings that fit past the knee. Frankly with my hips, I don’t think it would be a good look for me anyway. I watch the other mother but she doesn’t notice that I see her look at me from the waist down. I wonder what she thinks. Does she think that my thighs are too big? Or that the pants make my ankles look skinny? Or that I must have the day off because I’m dressed in workout clothes?

Later on, I take my first full run outside. The first for the year. It is hard work. I run much of the course the first time around. The second time, however, I walk more than I run. I wonder how the other mother is so slim.

I am an observant person. I notice the little things; looks, actions, and behavior of other people. I’m good at that. Maybe it’s a trait of the writer’s mind.

I am becoming more observant of the inside, too. The wagging finger and bullying voice that try hard to convince me that what these people see and think of me is important to me. That I must conform. That I must believe what I perceive. That I must believe what the thoughts are thinking up.

I was easily bent to their will as a teenager and twenty-something.  How glad am I that now, in my forties, I am able to set those things aside and do what is right for me.

Huzzah!

Softly, Softly…

hard softSometimes when you’re lying in bed on whatever days that are yours to sleep in, between sleeping and waking, the mind draws itself into awareness. Done are the crazy roadtrips of the night; the events that make no sense and wisp away into the morning, or perhaps, like me, remnants remain for you to gnaw over. You are content and warm under the covers; floppy, sleepy. But the mind rubs its hands together, ready to take full advantage of your drowse. Little does it know that by opening up a can of worms, it could be presenting a moment of healing.

It was yesterday morning, the kids were home from school for yet another snow day which meant I had to stay home too. I had the extra hour or so in bed, and in my doze, yet with no will to do so, I cycled back to the summer of 2011. I’ve gone there before, drawn by how I felt about myself and how (I can see now) that was projected onto a woman I called my nemesis but who was probably a very nice person.

We still had our lovely restaurant and our kids went to a private school but beneath it all, our family writhed like chained prisoners. Ultimately, our efforts would prove fruitless but until the day of release, we were bound to keep trudging around on the wheel, grinding away, going nowhere. On a spiritual level, I was nowhere near the place I am today; whatever light that shone inside was shrouded in jealousy, fear, judgment, anger, and hatred. I judged myself against other people. And the prettier, the thinner, the richer they were, the more I could beat myself up.

My kids’ school, in particular my son’s grade, decided to hold their ‘Back to School’ parent gathering on the patio of our place. My husband and I were honored but nervous, and I recall, as I was deciding on what to wear from my closet of painfully old clothes, wondering what this other woman, this “nemesis” would be wearing, would she be there at all?  It was a pernicious trail of thought; one that led to my choice of the dowdiest outfit I had which inevitably led to feeling frumpy, inadequate, and clumsy which then led to drinking too much at the table shared with the principal and his eye-poppingly skinny wife. I laughed too loud, I broke a glass, it was noticeable. And this woman was there; tall, blonde, very slim, in a lovely figure-hugging dress. She oozed serenity. I had been to her house for a birthday party; it was spacious and organized. She had three kids and she didn’t work and she was living the life I had wanted for my family. I admit that I was so filled with envy, I couldn’t see the good in anyone. I imagined she laughed at me internally; could see through my guise of smiles that covered up the “look at us, we have a restaurant and we’re as good as you but I know really we’re not and you’re so fucking lucky.” 

This was played out to me in its entirety yesterday morning, and I let it do so. This other woman was beautiful and she had a grace about her, no doubt. But I remembered another time after her father had died suddenly. I passed her in school during a parent/teacher evening, and it was obvious she had been crying; her eyes were red and puffy, and if I had wanted to mentally scoff and say “Now she looks like shit!”…I couldn’t. In spite of the green eating away inside, I felt only compassion. I stopped and offered my sympathies. She looked me squarely and sadly in the eyes and thanked me. One soul connecting with another in a time of sorrow.

As I lay there, coming to the conclusion of the playback, the ego wilted a little.  A stronger voice arose uttering the word ‘soften.’ So I did. I allowed myself to view the patio scene from a perspective of compassion, for the frayed person I once was. I saw this other woman not as my nemesis but as a beautiful woman with a lovely family. The memories softened and loosened their grip. I knew that all I had felt and was still feeling on occasion when she came to mind, was my torch to extinguish.

In that moment, with eyes closed, tucked up in bed, I freed myself a little bit more of the hardness around my heart. It helped me soften toward other things too, and I allowed myself to be open in their direction also.

Another step for my little light. I’m so grateful, I could cry.

Heart of a Writer

“A writer, if he is any good, does not describe. He invents or makes out of knowledge personal and impersonal and sometimes he seems to have unexplained knowledge which could come from forgotten racial or family experience… If you describe someone, it is flat, as a photograph is, and from my standpoint a failure. If you make him up from what you know, there should be all the dimensions.”

So sayeth Ernest Hemingway.

A fledgling writer, I am but I hesitate to even use the word writer since it feels like a title to be earned. But what is there below that? A dawdler, a doodler, a thinker without following through-er?

I don’t brag about my creations; trust me, much of it is not worth bragging about, and I feel a sort of vague disgust when people do. Therein I think, lies my biggest obstacle; judging vs. understanding. Since coming into awareness, and the belief that we are all created equal, having the capacity for so much love, I balk at labeling people.

There was a guy standing on the edge of a very busy road. He was thin, wearing thick glasses, droopy clothing, holding a single grocery bag, waiting for a break in the traffic to be able to cross. I saw him for three seconds, tops, and in that time the first thought that came to mind was that he must be poor. His lips were moving so he must be slightly off-kilter to be talking to himself, and as he stood there he shuffled his feet alternately. I drove by with those first impressions. The image ruminated, and the things that weren’t so obvious came into view; he had been smiling with an open face, the glasses might have been a different prescription than he needed because his mouth was open and his teeth were plainly visible as he strained to see clearly. Most of all, he looked happy. Just happy with who he was, where he was and what he was doing, and even where he was headed to, maybe.

There was a woman behind me at the drugstore. She was talking to a young man, who I assumed was her son. She was brusque, and bullish, striking down everything he said with a harsh “Nope.” It seemed that her son hadn’t received some money that he was owed, and she was sure that if the funds did come through, it wouldn’t be the full amount, or the person owing would renege on the whole thing. She was quite successful in degrading both her son and the unknown person in public. Finally, she grudgingly agreed to lend her son the money (which, no doubt, he would be hounded to pay back very soon) and made her way to the ATM at the front of the store. In order to get there, she had to walk by me. She addressed the floor with her “excuse me” and as she shoved by, I had the clearest vision of the kind of person she was. At a gathering perhaps, she would be the one listening to, sharing and taking in all the gossip, storing it away, to be reproduced some other time when it would serve a juicy purpose. She would be the one who knew more than you, and would verbally stamp all over any opinion that differed from hers. She ate fast food. She smoked. She judged with a flick of her eyes and could see nothing of a stranger beyond the surface.

What a strange position for me to be in. With a writer’s mind, I see the characters as they are, in an environment of my choosing, playing out scenes and conversations as I imagine would befit their personalities. Then the Buddha mind speaks up and gently reminds me that it is unkind to judge people; to pigeonhole.

I have struggled with this notion for a while: when you receive inspiration from what is around you, what has happened to you, what you have experienced, who you see, how they behave, how do you vanquish the idea of being judgmental to get down to the creative nitty gritty?

“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

And right there, it’s quite simple.

The guy crossing the road, the woman in the drugstore; no matter where I put them, they gotta have roots. So that instead of painting a vapid picture, I create a statue with parts and pieces pulled from many memories, an outline that I can fill in with what’s in my mind. Judgment is eliminated and in its place, an open heart and mind, delving into what is already known.

But still, you won’t read about what I’m working on, why I’ve been away, have you missed my writing, and oh, this will be great for my next book. Because I’m not trying to elicit your comments or your personal strokes. That’s just the ego talking, so write like it’s your soul on the page and keep your torment to yourself.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 

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Perception and Judgment

Last Thursday I went for a run, well, it was more of a jog really. It was a lovely, albeit bit of a breezy afternoon but I enjoyed the still of the tree-lined streets, the soft sound of Heart Meditations radio flowing into my brain. The feel of breath coursing in and out of my body. Really feeling my feet connect with the ground. It wasn’t easy going though because it’s been about six months since I exercised with any regularity so there were quite a few times I stopped to walk before picking up speed again.

I used to criticize myself for doing that and would always feel that people in their houses or people driving by were privately deriding me for walking, so I’d wait until no-one was around before doing so. Now I try to allow myself the grace to admit that I’m older and I have been remiss in taking care of myself physically so I need to give myself time and space to return to where I want to be. It’s a tough pill to swallow; the feeling of inadequacy, failure or dread – they can be real moodbusters. So, I’m making my way around the houses and am aware of these thoughts but am not squishing them down because I know they’ll just pop right back up again like a bunch of Whack-A-Moles. Instead, I do my best to allow them to come and go and I counter them with positive thoughts in a gentle manner. If I need to stop to walk, I break the notion of stranger derision by just stopping and walking. No matter where I am or who’s driving by. I could feel my ego recoil in horror every time. *smile*

And then, as I was headed out of the lovely tree-lined estate, almost done with my jog, I saw ahead of me a young couple also running. I noticed her hair first of all, which was perfectly parted and highlighted and pulled back into a pony tail. She wore a short-sleeved light blue shirt over black pants. And big sunglasses. In a split second of judgment, I saw myself as a middle-aged mother of two wearing her husband’s long-sleeved shirt because she had nothing else warm to wear, a thin hoodie wrapped around her waist, strategically placed to cover her ass, and shiny black pants. Also scraggly hair that had not been professionally cut in a year and no sunglasses. I thought she had me pegged.

Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. I couldn’t tell since her sunglasses were so big and we really didn’t greet each other as we passed.

However, it really was my perception of myself that bounced off her and back to me. And I knew it as they passed by. I judged her and me and was aware of it in the space of about two seconds.

Isn’t it amazing how snappy the mind can be?

I felt vaguely unsettled for the remainder of my time outdoors and it was one of the things I brought up to my husband when I got home. Even then, I felt sure that this woman had judged me. My ego kept throwing up her image for me to compare myself against.

It’s only today, four days later that I’m admitting what I did and thought and felt. And being ok with it all. Because isn’t that what our journey is about? Experiencing these thoughts, becoming aware of them and accepting them. Learning that the ego has its place in all of us, that our shadows are all part of us and how we can become aware of their role in our soul on a daily basis, isn’t that all part of finding our truth?

I love my soul. And the “bigness” of it. How there is so much more for me to dive into and explore and observe and accept.

Lisa…