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Dream vision: She is slight, calm, quiet, young. She's wearing a splendid, silk gold blouse that is decorated in a leaf pattern. She's facing her sister. Her sister can't take her eyes off the pretty blouse. She can't get the sister to speak to her about something important. There is no progress to the conversation because the sister is charmed and arrested in her focus. The camera pans in to a still life of a young face cropped above the nose and below the waist, showing the magnificent blouse and negating the person wearing it. (A bit like my upbringing.)
Dream: big tornado in our sights. I grabbed a baby, my niece, she clung to me and we went for shelter into the basement. Downstairs, it was surprizingly peaceful and sunny. Is this the basement? I asked woman. I'd been here before, but had entered thru walkout, thus confusion. In big boat, with T: storming, scary. Another boat came toward us and almost bashed into us as he turned around to escape storm. T invalidated my fears. Next, visited old homestead. There were never smoke stacks spewing pollution here before! But this is the new reality for this area now.
60 Minutes segment showed 5 six year old girls fervently singing every word of "Let It Go" from movie, "Frozen." It was a reminder of how powerfully a message can be delivered via a song. Especially if it is heard regularly. Again, my wish to change our national anthem from "Spangled Banner" to “America the Beautiful" was ignited. The former is a war story of vanquishment and the latter is an appreciation of beauty and a calling for peace. Imagine children holding the foundational belief that they are peacekeepers and peaceseekers. USA children valuing peace over war could change everything!
Today, I broke out my old oil paints and luxuriated in uninterrupted time, painting an image that came to me in a dream. So fulfilling to follow through with a commanded whisper from the psyche. I've not painted in oils for 10 years. And for me, nothing else is quite as worthwhile. The dream was of an inability to communicate with my sister. I was there in front of her, trying, and she was fascinated by what I was wearing; a golden silk blouse. The painting is of the blouse, with my head cropped off the canvas. Dreams tell all.
I love that I have an open door to meet people through. I never knew what a gift this would be. The store is a public place where people show up in the course of their day, just because they were driving by, or because they've been curious and have an extra moment to explore. These encounters would never happen if I was painting in my home. Home is a bit isolating. We no longer feel free to drop by unannounced. I've met so many people this way. It'll be hard to, one day, close the door. Or, maybe not.
Taxes have a deleterious effect on those of us who are unorganized. My assignment from tax preparer: get closing papers of your late father's sale of house. A challenging chore of necessary focus; not getting sucked up by the emotion behind the many financial statements of 2013. Found a file that summarized information my past husband put together for me. See evidence of vacation property we bought. Keep focused. See Mom's old slides of her art work. All those bills paid to divorce lawyer! Dad's death certificate. Keep going. From closet to bookcase; it feels like I'm looking for wounds.
Once upon a time, there was a young girl, a middle child bookended by two brothers. One of the brothers had a difficult cognitive disability. Girl grows up a healer and yet, broken. One can see that she honed two distinct attributes; one a helpful, compassionate substitute mother for a stressed family. The other, broken part, was created to achieve some ego developing attention without the negative consequences for asserting herself. She orchestrated misfortune to visit her frequently. A lifelong pattern: a victorious, enduring victim of life. Only this woman could experience so many travails that it baffles her supporters.
I have a friend, Paula, who is quite different. If you present her with a present, she'll not accept it and say, "no thank you" not even look at it.. Why? Because she has enough stuff. She is an art and cultural buff, but never flaunts it. She planned and succeeded in early retirement. When she tells you a hardship story, they're always laughable and in the past tense. I sent her this quote by F. Franck: "...Whatever their hand touches has increased life...they are the artists of being alive." That is my dear friend Paula, a great rolemodel.
Humming along, things are. Interest in the store is increasing. the to-do list is getting shorter. I don't have to spend money anymore. I've got most things I need. Boring. Another business report. I guess it's because that's all I do. I meet great strangers, but I don't meet up with friends; I'm working. It's all ok. A clean, well stocked home, with a cat and an occupation that might be the very best yet. Or not. Irritant: having too many boring phone conversations with former husband. I must do something about that. Hello, idiot! Don't answer the phone!
I'm relishing instead of fretting about the challenge before me. I'm recognizing that this isn't a test of competency, but an opportunity to shine as I serve a group in the store. I realize that they will bring their own fun. That the art that they make will charm them, that the process of creating together IS the very thing that I have known and want to share. It is a privilege to organize, create a space, tap into symbols for meaning, research poems and music, it's all the best. I couldn't be happier with my new career. I've arrived.
I hadn't realized my own efficiency. I circle around projects in a spiral motion leading down, eventually, into the actual finale phase. In other words, I inch my way toward completion. I plan to rummage through the basement boxes to see if I have more of that particular fabric, whose color I like so well in my living room. Two weeks later, I'm pleased to have dug it up. Tonight, I'll start the project (a cute cat bed for the matching footstool.) Anyway, I've reached the point of completion on all my projects at once. Will the world stop spinning?
I was planning to walk to work today. It's how I fit health into my day. Otherwise I sit too much. It's sunny and looks inviting, but alas, it's 25 degrees out there. Note: this is March 21st! There is still snow on the ground. Impossible. I'll have to live extra hard this summer to make up for lost outdoor pleasure time; bike rides, hammock time, outdoor grilling, mowing the lawn, washing the car, pulling weeds. Anything to savor the summer weather. Hopefully I'll be more mindful and present to appreciate it when it comes. Again, life is a skill.
There were so many reasons why we fell apart. All the glue had crumbed with age, the nails were loose in their sockets, the structure needed support to be maintained, couldn't stand strongly, self sufficiently. The internal scaffolding was deformed. It had chinks in it, skeletal flaws caused by the weaknesses of my parents. They were too young, probably immature; not whole and able to give bountiful love to two children. No. Sis and I bonded when it was convenient for her. Period. I allowed it because I had grow to believe this, family engagement, was love. Reality now corrected.
I guess in my writing about the estrangement of Sis and me, I begin to see that it was the the family dynamics that caused her to be a narcissist and caused me to acclimate to accepting crumbs. So, does that mean she and I are not to blame? Seems like that's the conclusion I'm heading for. I think I need to sit with that theory another year. My problem is that once I discovered my comfort with crumbs and saw how it's shaped my important relationships, I want no part of it. She is a continuation of the same.
Even though I've studied family dynamics, been a counselor, know the theories; still, it's incredible how the young years of our lives are the pillars by which we understand the world. Those young years are like the Procrustean Bed: occurrences, loving relationships, kindness teamed with strength don't even register. One doesn't have the antennas for them. It's like we are playing a different game than others, with different interpretations, fictionalizing the parts we don't get. This is perhaps why family seems so precious; it's because the comfort zone is elicited when you totally know the rules even if they're wrong.
Venting: I don't like the way she conducts her teacher role in my space. I don't like that she reorganizes things I have placed for aesthetic appeal to make more room for her things. I don't like the way she spreads her things all over the room during a class as a way to aggrandize her significance. I don't like that she is jumping years ahead in her planning for her stake in the weekly schedule. I don't like that she sends me multiple pages of ideas for my space and its promotion as if I have no ideas myself.
In five years, I'll rent or buy a 20 foot RV with a bed, a stovetop and a table. I'll break a champagne bottle over its hood and christen it "Enough" I'll set my course for visiting cities with hostels and intersperse those visits with rugged campsites at glorious national parks. I'll hike and bike and type and read and invite my temporary neighbors for dinner (fantasy...I never invite people to dinner.) I'll keep in touch with family (meaning my son) when I stop at a Starbucks for coffee once a week. I could do this for a year.
Another example of stuckness: a volunteer at a community DEMONSTRATION garden expresses excitement about a new article she discovered that introduces a paradigm shift away from wasted lawns that suck up water, time and money plus environmental costs in fertilizer consequences. This article promotes vegetable growth and also mixing long root clover with ordinary grass so that both require less water and no fertilizer. Response: "This is not what we teach. Please note that I have 15 years experience in mulching and....." Fifteen years ago, no one heard about climate change. We were still comparing green lawns with the Jones'.
It's a rainy, grey day. I'm here at the store by myself. That is nothing new, but the rain makes me predict that the isolation will continue. On a sunny day, there is always the anticipation that someone might walk in with a fresh insight or response or question. Being isolated is OK. I have everything I need and it is enough. What would I be doing at home? Nothing. What do retired people do with their lives? They travel, explore, engage with their grandchildren, plan for spring tulips, and vegetables. They read a book to prepare for book club.
I've got a fun plan for the day. I'm going to paint my dull Ikea step stool in a four color paisley. I'll be listening to Science Friday and flowing with flair. I love that the planning task of the week is over and I have nothing going on until next Thursday. Being at the store doesn't seem like a chore, it seems like home number two, where I can escape the chores of home number one. Life on the escape path. No. Life by the moment. Life as it comes. I wish it were always so. Life's a skill.
Niece: "Oh, I miss you so much." "Call me when you can talk," "Have you heard what's going on here?" All these come ons. Why? Then she never returns my calls or texts. So, what is the meaning? Trying to lure me in? Trying to get attention? I've already given this too much thought. Swish. I've cleared the air. I am in the moment. I am looking at brilliant yellow daffodills catching the morning sun as it streams through my living room window. I hadn't realized that they smell heavenly. A $1.39 well spent. Especially since we need spring!
Be careful what you ask for...yesterday was a case in point. The store was full of people that I had not charged enough to overcome my resentfulness that they were being so needy and demanding. That's the bottom line. On the surface, I'm sure I covered my ill will with a smile and with patience. But underneath I was asking, "Is this enjoyable?" And answered with an astounding, "No!" Young kids are greedy, and their parents, focused on their own products, are not in control which leads me to police the pilferers. New policies will be going into effect!
Waiting for spring. Waiting to pump up the bike tires and roll to a destination. Just a ride to the library or the nearby sushi store. The glorious weather in CA is beckoning me. Can I stay here in the cold? How can I be a store owner only half the year? I'm keeping open the possibility that this can and will happen. I need to find someone willing to be my substitute, who also wants the freedom of a six month gig. Not impossible. In the meantime, I'm making choices that simplify my life, opting out of unnecessary commitments.
My cat pushes aside the daffodils in the vase and cranes his neck down to the waterline so he can take a drink. Then he looks at me. I'm careful not to respond, thus I'm saying, "whatever." If I get excited, it'll be the new game. The daffodils' petals will suffer teeth bites and probably the vase will be spilled eventually. No. I'm cool. Just watching and wondering, does the water taste any different that the water in his bowl? This cat is so much like a dog. Greets me at the door, follows me around, plays fetch. My treasure.
OMG. I 'm so tired. Surprisingly. As the wave of exhaustion comes over me and I fight the urge to sit and rest; I think back over the day and how I spent my energy...in alarm, really. Yeah, no, there isn't a good explanation. Last night watching TV I was wrapped in a blanket to fight off the cold. And then I thought, remember Dad, how cold he was all the time? He and his lung cancer, which didn't cause him any pain. Just tiredness. Could I be dying and not even know it? BMI is way too low.
Meeting a client for the first time, a therapist grasps that there are so many unknowns; a whole life of how the scar has been manifesting itself in so many scenarios.. The client is telling the emotion of the story and the therapist is looking for the thread that pulls it together; connects the dots, maps out the route from injury (of thought or understanding) to the present day. Why? Because the emotional journey back in time will help the client pick up the pieces, see the links and gain understanding of what is happening and what needs to change.
Con't. Therefore, to work in the present with skill building, so that the client experiences positive changes is important. Then linking difficulties to the past is the skill of the therapist; "why and when did you get the feeling you were less than..." This is the key to break through the resistance to hurt, get to the buried wound, let it out, so that THE understanding is the closure on the defeating pattern. Everyone has a blindspot, not an accidental blindspot. A well fashioned, consistent blinder that never exposes the truth. Unassisted, it would be hard and painful to remove.
So, what are the most crucial elements of focus to build a scaffolding on which to pin new behaviors that produce enough positive results that a person would be motivated to continue? I think it's this Dialectical Behavior Therapy: 4 precepts that one could latch on to each day. Mindfulness, distress tolerance skills, interpersonal effectiveness skills, and emotional regulation skills. Wha la! I think it's ingenious. It helps with so many different maladies. If put into practice, anxiety would lesson to the point where tackling the distressing history could be tolerated. I'm trying to justify the cost of the training.
It takes mental strength to turn the truth on its side so that it remains unrecognizable. One can keep it upside down with great effort, stumbling over it, walking around it, pushing it about so that it doesn't obstruct the path on which you think you must remain. You'll defend your obtuseness, you'll make accusations and cut off true friendships that won't collaborate with your view of reality. You'll walk around with blinders to sustain your beliefs. Meanwhile, the amount of expendable energy...the kind that can appreciate wonder, root out a passionate life, is minimized to accommodate the pretense.
I'm going to a reike healer next week. Not because I feel ill or nervous or that anything is wrong. I think it's just adventure. Tarrot cards, energy medicine, acupuncture, nia dance, kundalini. There are so many hypes out there. Maybe the influence is no different than getting a mani-pedi. A temporary boost to the psych. You pay for their advice and influence, you get a little influence. I must want to believe in an underworld/overworld that has influence on the ordinary present day life. The search for spiritual guidance continues. Buddhism makes sense. It's all within me.
Another month of 100 words completed. That's 3100 words. The most difficult part of writing each day is finding an interesting enough topic that will bloom into 100 words. In 10 months, 31,000 words are written. NaNoWriMo requires 50,000 words to compete in the novel writing month of November. It's doable in small increments. 100 words is painless, and there would be the advantage of not having to think of a topic. Everyone should write a novel in their lifetime. We all love books, they're part of our human experience. Hmmm. What is the perfect subject for me?
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