On what may be

Before my kids exit the car for camp every morning, I try to impart some wisdom. I understand that it’s mostly a futile thing but I hope that once in a while, and maybe for a long while, some of what I say will stick.

“Thoughts are like flowers and weeds.” I said yesterday, “The good, helpful thoughts are the flowers; the negative thoughts are the weeds. Your mind is like a garden, so be careful which plants you water, because what you water the most is what will grow. Would you prefer a mind full of beautiful flowers, or a mind full of weeds?” *crickets…..followed by mama’s gone crazy shared look*

“Sometimes not getting what you want is a good thing because it can lead you to much better things you never knew were there.” This one made my son eyeroll because he’d not been allowed to buy something on his electronic device half an hour earlier.

I’ve learned more about myself in the last two years than in all my years. Currently, I’m sitting with uncertainty, fear, worry, and frustration over things that I cannot control. In years gone by, I’d have been a bound slave to the dire link between thought and emotion. I know better now to locate the peaceful light inside, even if it feels like I’m parting a hedgerow that only serves to become thicker and snappier with each handful apart. I can see the light, I can feel the light, I can tap into it, and for a fleeting moment, peace settles in, right there in the middle of the writhing forest. Soon enough, and inevitably, the thoughts swoop in like crows with their chatter and tightness and the white birdlight flies away.  The process ebbs and flows as I work throughout the days to breathe, center, tap in….breathe, center, tap in…

Art Fantasy Fantastic Illusion Magic Painting Surrealism -6My lesson for the next few days will probably be about letting go of trying to control things. Keeping at least some part of me in touch with the light on the other side of the hedgerow while the rest of me is fretting about something that has an either/or outcome. And pulling from the experience, some words of wisdom for my kids who, one day, will appreciate the little seeds I’ve been planting. I hope.

 

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!

Friday Fictioneers: Thinking Wheel

Photo courtesy:  David Stewart

Photo courtesy: David Stewart

Thinking Wheel

Word count: 103

Barry hopped up and down, “It’s a Thinking Wheel!”

“It’s a whatnow?”  Richard squinted up at a couple perched deep in thought, and was about to add a jab until he saw that Barry had reached the top of the ladder.

What the…?  Who knew Baz was so friggin nimble?  Richard looked around, unsure whether to follow or loiter at the bottom.  Conformity prevailed and he climbed upward, grasping clumsily in Barry’s wake.

He clambered across the support rail and sat delicately on the lip next to his friend.

Alarmingly, Barry’s voice talked in his head, “Rich, dude, you gotta start working out.”

Mental Salmon

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I do not think that in the seven months I’ve been meditating (give or take the last two months) that my mind has been quite so rackety with thoughts during the quiet time.  Even as a newbie last year, on the tail end of some very emotional stuff, I did not have half as many visions and scenarios that I’ve had recently.  And it’s almost impossible not to become absorbed by each one.  I realize only when I’m in deep that I’m engaged; I have to bring my awareness back but before long another one steals in and sneaks up my skirt.

Granted there’s a lot going on in the life of this Spiritual Biscuit.  We finally found a rental home and will be moving next Monday but coming up with funds for all and sundry is a gargantuan effort, helped mostly by some very good friends and by family.  Moving was not our choice; it was forced upon us and if the landlord had waited just a few more months, we wouldn’t be struggling as we are.  So, we’re emptying our bank account to move in, to move our pets in (because pet deposit is ridonkulous), to turn on water, to switch on electricity, to turn on cable and internet (which I might survive a while without but with two young children, my sanity depends upon it), to have trash picked up.  And don’t even get me started on a moving company.

This will also be the first summer that my kids have not stayed at home with me, so we’ve been researching day camps too.  *cha-ching-a-ling-ding-ding*.  And beyond that, the lovely task of breaking the news that they’ll be moving to another new school in the Fall.  My daughter is just like me when I was a kid – adaptable, easygoing, friendly and upon floating the subject, she’s all “I’m a duck, where’s the water?”  My son is like my husband, reserved, resistant to change and as evidenced by last year’s switch, capable of becoming so highly emotional that he will make himself sick.  So…yay for that upcoming conversation.

Lots of external clatter makes for much internal chatter.  But somewhere through the chaos and unkempt mind, is a small still space.  I was there for a few seconds today and it cracked a teeny, tiny smile before I got sucked back into the fray once again.  I will also admit that my meditation practice, as mentioned above, has been quite sporadic.  With time and consistency and once we are moved and somewhat settled, I’m sure my mind will calm some.  It’s not as if the scenarios I have are ones that need sorting out.  They are generic, every day themes that I can’t recall after the fact so I’m not worried that I have inner demons to chase down right this very moment.

I’m treading water.  Doing ok for now.  Keeping busy.  And remembering that being mindful is as easy as focusing on scraping the salmon off the bottom of the pan.

Lisa…

I Am and the kids

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When I was four, I was sexually abused. I don’t mind putting it out there, not that I bandy it around like a national flag, in fact, it hardly ever comes up at all. Dealt with all of that ten years ago; 18 months of therapy put paid to over 30 years of vacant soul-searching. I went in scrabbled, confused and with all these strings from the past hanging from me like one of those Australian cork hats. I came out the other side filled up, released and happy with just being me. I know I was the one to do the work but I will always be grateful for the help and guidance of a therapist who I still believe to this day, was meant for me.

So. Yes. That happened. And plenty of other things have occurred since those therapeutic, hard-won days. Some wonderful things like meeting and marrying my husband – an event I believed happened to other people, even the loud, angry lady at the gas station, but never to me. I’ve given birth to two wonderful children. And cats. Well, I haven’t given birth to cats…that’s just weird. We’ve had three cats. Somewhere along the trail of the last ten years, the ‘me’ faded away. Life turned ugly. Businesses fought for and lost. Houses left behind to grow moldy. Money scraped from here and there to survive. No trips. No holidays. No bikes. No gifts. No celebrations. No new clothes. No haircuts. We did what we could do for the kids in terms of Christmas and birthdays but it’s been a tough six years.

On the upside, we have been incredibly fortunate to have had understanding landlords, business associates with big hearts and good friends with listening ears. We also had each other, our little family, but the stresses and strains on our marriage were very apparent during my darkest time, probably toward the end of 2011 when our beloved restaurant was beginning its slow flail to an inevitable crash-landing. I stood on the verge of someplace really dangerous; a place I had never considered before and never want to return to and it took the love and light of a special person to guide me away. And it was then that I began the second phase of my journey. Again, I did the work but I’m truly grateful for that person’s guidance and know that they were meant for me.

Now it’s 2013 and life feels like it’s turning around in so many ways, like we’ve been lost at sea for a long time and now we can see land.

I am here.

I am this.

I Am.

And that’s all I need to know. There doesn’t need to be so much work done because I get it. Sure, some days are harder than others. Like the other day. It took me a while to understand what was really happening and how to stop it. There’s something about the term ‘ego’ that bothers me but it’s also quite fitting; it’s obnoxious, overbearing and shoulders its way through my life. It’s sneaky. It put me in a donkey position with the dangling carrot; I slapped my lips and trudged behind it, looking forward to its deliciousness. Ultimately, the carrot, out of my control, was whipped away and I was left with nothing but fear, disappointment and hurt. The ego is so well-versed. It has had years to hone its skill. My fledgling self, although has been around since before I was born, is still a relatively new concept to me, so the ego might have the upper hand sometimes. I’m learning its ways and learning through the ups and downs that I Am is where it’s at. Where I’m at. In me, the stillness. The calm while the hurricane can rage around. I also know that although there’s no work involved, sometimes it’s gonna feel like it.

I ask myself, how do I teach this to my kids? How do I teach them to understand the self and the ego? My daughter understood the concept of spirit almost immediately but my son, well, he’s eight and more interested in Mario Cart, Legos and drawing comics but I hope some of what I’ve explained so far, sticks. Spirit is one thing; how to explain that the mind and its thoughts can sometimes be your enemy? Enemy sounds harsh too but really, when you boil it down, it can be your own worst. I remember a couple of months ago on the way to school, suddenly feeling the urge to tell them to have good thoughts and how not to believe every one that pops into their heads. In the rearview mirror, they eyed each other like Mommy was going loopy. I broke it down to Lego actually…said how do you think Lego’s came about? Shrug. Well, someone had a thought. Someone thought “Hey, I wonder if I made something like this, would it be fun to play with?” and from that thought, the thing was made and today, we have Legos. The same with everything you see – it all started with a thought. Well, that made their eyes boggle and out came a torrent of “What about that lamppost?” and “Ooh, what about that dog?” and “Ooh, what about the fart I just did?” cue giggle fits. But they understood. It was a basic explanation, appropriate for their age, without becoming convoluted and boring.

I expanded by saying that not all thoughts are good thoughts. Sometimes we have thoughts about people without knowing all about them. Or sometimes we have thoughts about ourselves that make us feel badly about ourselves. Those are the kinds of thoughts that we shouldn’t really believe. They became a little confused by that but I could see that the notion had tucked itself in their minds like a little seed.

And that made me happy; I hope I am giving them something positive to build on.

Lisa…