The Goal is Being Alive

I had been restless, tired of putting up with leftovers. I’d had a lot of second-hand crap. Friends invited me to concerts–if their original date didn’t show. Or sometimes, I stayed in the car while she and a friend met the band and received autographs. It sucked. How did I get into this situation? One day I woke up and realized I wasn’t the first choice in my friend’s life. I was putting more effort into relationships than I was getting. It pissed me off. I’m not the second. When had I started down this path? I didn’t intentionally date taken men or choose friends who didn’t want to hang with me. But it all cracked, and I had enough.

It tested me…

I grew up in a hard-knocks rural lifestyle. If you don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it. Work hard, and take pride in your accomplishments. Park them in the driveway so the neighbors can see. But I was also torn between two worlds. I had earned my old world, the one I left, the mom me. Since I left it, somehow, I no longer had access to the worthiness I had achieved under its umbrella. My ex-husband kept the money. Society withheld the honor.

I couldn’t square the old with the new world I entered. In this modern world, I was a penniless, lonely, divorced female. I didn’t like this person I had become. I was sad and unfulfilled. I lived only to make it another day.

On the advice of a therapist, I planned to make some solo journeys. It seemed reasonable. It would be time away from toxic relationships, and I could readjust my expectations. Recalibrate. Learning to feel good on your own isn’t easy, but that was the plan. Solo Journeys. At least, it was the door I kept trying to go enter. Heaven is my witness; I tried. 

The universe or God had a surprise. I met someone who liked doing the same things I enjoyed – hiking, drinking coffee, etc. I could do it alone. I was willing to prove I could. But maybe I’ve done enough. I don’t know. One thing I’m learning is that not everything is accomplished through hard work and pounding on doors. maybe I’ve done enough. I don’t know. I’m adoring my journeys currently. I’m making peace with my life. I’m alive.

Emotions And Flashbacks

We know emotions. They’re healthy, normal. A pet is sick or dies, and we are sad. If it is sunny outside, this could be a good day. We become excited. We plan for an adventure. There’s a hike, a few hours at the zoo with our family, or maybe the pool. A little sunburn isn’t bad. Even a tantrum from the three-year-old doesn’t spoil a day. Emotions are flavors added to the stewpot.

I’ve had weeks of crying jags for no apparent reason, and I’m bewildered as to what started them. I can’t recall an emotion. Am I sad? Angry? Sometimes I’ll stare at the wall or want to hide under the covers because life seems too much. It’s the tsunami crashing over my plans to move forward into a good life. I write lists and can’t seem to accomplish the tasks.

The difference in simple terms between an emotion and a flashback is the logic. I can be disappointed in an immediate event or happy about it. If I’m having a flashback, it’s illogical. I may be disappointed about the experience but also accuse others that they did this on purpose. I’ll feel like going into a dark hole for a longer time or rage about someone letting me down. And perhaps they did. The flashback has magnified the pain.

Emotional flashbacks are sudden and often prolonged regressions (‘amygdala hijackings’) to the frightening circumstances of childhood. They are typically experienced as intense and confusing episodes of fear and/or despair – or as sorrowful and/or enraged reactions to this fear and despair.  Flashback Management

Pete Walker

How can you tell if someone has a flashback?  

“Flashbacks sometimes feel as though they come out of nowhere, but there are often early physical or emotional warning signs. These signs could include a change in mood, feeling pressure in your chest, or suddenly sweating. Becoming aware of the early signs of flashbacks may help you manage or prevent them.”

RAINN.ORG

There is a time in our childhood before we could name an emotion when we create patterns of feeling. It’s possible our parents were busy and tired. My dad worked two and sometimes three jobs. Mom helped when we had a business—three kids and not a lot of money. As the third child, it was a challenge to be noticed. I needed more than they could give. I cried with ear infections, and mom was exhausted. She needed a break. And there wasn’t one in sight anywhere for her. Now, it’s still difficult for me to ask for help.

Peaceful Warrior

One tool Richard Grannon teaches in his YouTube videos is for emotions. Many of us are not aware of our feelings. I wrote about this in a previous post, The Jungle of My Emotions. We befriend our emotions, even the ugly ones, and they soon become familiar. Name them as to recognize them. Are you afraid? Or are you feeling betrayed? This method has been helpful for me.

A decent way to do this is to set a timer for three times a day. Mine is 9:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 8:00 PM. When the timer chimes, check-in with yourself. Are you bored, lost, sad, or feeling angry? Being aware of yourself is a start. There is plenty of help if you need it.

I don’t know your life or your family, only you know them. You swim in those emotions deep. It takes a near miracle, as the fish pulled from the water, to realize life can be different. I do have hope for me, and I have hope for you. If you can relate to any of this, follow some of the links. There is help. It can get better.

Resources:

Rick Hanson Ph.D.-The Foundations of Well Being 

Richard Grannon-The Spartan Life Coach

Pete Walker-Flashback Management

My thanks to Wade Harris for the featured photograph. Find him on Flickr or Instagram.

Hunters and Gatherers

I don’t remember how the habit started. It wasn’t a conscious choice like taking up jogging, but it developed as all do—progressively. One act of pleasure bumps into another until it’s a daily delight. A treat. And my oh my. How can something that brings a smile one day and on the next, seem to be wrong? Another one? Isn’t that excessive? No one else is involved. After all, I’ve got this handled.

At times, I stay up too late browsing the internet. I’m not reading a good book or researching my family tree, just browsing random crap. YouTube videos, current news, or shopping for things I’ll never buy. If I were reading, at least it would be beneficial for my brain cells, right? So down the trail and then turn right. Stop!

—Women who love wine

My one-year-old cat, Dot, is a hunter. He drags his “kills.” He attacks, wrestles, and drags small rugs and blankets around the house. They are gnawed to death. Usually, they are tugged to the food bowl, him growling the entire way. I see it as some instinct he has to bring in a carcass. His version of the gazelle is a brown Mexican blanket that he yanks by its corner. Sometimes he’ll donate his prey to the other cats while they sleep.

Dot has a Q-tip habit. He begs for them, even meowing and waking me at two in the morning when the rest of the world is sleeping. He needs a fix. It is nearly an obsession. Cat games. This cat hunts ear swabs. He hides his skinny, ear swab prey under a rug, then pounces, then discovering it again.

Creatures of nature are instinctive. Humans use instincts but also have developed habits. But we can update old practices. Thankfully we can learn. Whatever it is we want to alter, we can retrain ourselves. It feels odd at first. If it’s essential and we introduce it consistently, we can change. But Dot, the hunter, might forever be addicted to his human ear probes. I might forever be gathering them from odd places, like from my shoes.

Dot, the hunter

This Is Like Planting Seeds

At the beginning of all things, we tend to feel quite silly. Picture me, chubby girl, jogging through my neighborhood. I’ve got the shoes, the shorts, a water bottle and of course the required music blaring in my ears. At this moment, I can’t brag about my pace. My GPS phone app clocks me at 5 K in 57 minutes. And that’s estimating that my last 30 minutes will be the same as my first, which they won’t. By the time I get a mile and a half (about 2.4 K) of walking and running in, I’m sweating like crazy. My calves burn, and my knees are weak. I am no picture of athletic prowess.

Of course, it won’t always be like that. Eventually, I’ll build up enough muscle to finish in half that time. Hopefully, I won’t be as sore. My stride will look stronger, and my run will be more fluid. I picture myself as a leaner version than now, running like a gazelle through the neighborhood. Onlookers will be in awe of my agility. I wonder, should I take my hair out of the ponytail? The wind could blow it as I run. I would also be in color-coordinated clothing. Shoes, shorts, and a tank top all coordinated. Yeah, I look like I belong.

It’s humorous because when I started with my old tank top and 10-year-old shorts and shoes, I felt awkward. I was pretending to be a runner because it’s cool. And I hate being trendy.

Aside: Running vs. Jogging.

The two are technically the same. Jogging doesn’t become running at a certain pace. Jogging is just an uncool word for some people.

– Me

I’m not sure where this started except possibly in the marathon running group. You don’t jog a marathon. When I looked up the terms in all the online running blogs I could find, no one was sure of the difference between the two. Jogging implies that you are trotting through the neighborhood with no purpose. In the case of running, people mean they are training for a run or a marathon. But that’s speculative.

When I began, with my out of date shoes, I felt awkward. So to legitimize myself I purchased official running gear. Funnily enough, the models displaying running shorts and tanks are 5’10” and 100 pounds. Their BMI is probably 5%. I know, I know, it’s really 14% and I’m exaggerating, but they are skinny girls. Lanky. Anorexic. My BMI is a higher. All those chubs on my body are well-earned. It took a lot of cookies and pints of ice cream to build them.

Now that I have my running gear, at least I know the shoes are not going to injure my knees and shins. With time, I will develop the strange quirks that go with being a runner. I don’t know if I will ever feel authentic because my mental picture is unrealistic; no real person could meet it. I think we do that with a lot of things. Even being an adult, which is something that comes with age, and we don’t genuinely earn, the mere act of not dying brings us to it, we can feel like we are a fake. At the beginning of every attempt, we step one foot in front of the other until we’ve trained our senses to become familiar with our new task.

Adulthood, parenting, hobbies, and vocations are that way. It feels strained. Not quite right. Everyone sees your stumbling and fumbling. That makes me smile. Even though I may not reach gazelle-like grace in my running, eventually even I can become comfortable jogging and running about the neighborhood dressed in trendy shorts and bright-colored shoes.

This is an edited repost.  Taking Up Running from June 9, 2013 

The image above was provided by Wade Harris ”Door, New York City”

My posts might be sparse for a few weeks since I have a cervical spine surgery scheduled, which will make it challenging to write. Wish me luck!

Best Practices

We’re rushing headlong toward a new year, and that means new resolutions with new false promises. Why set ourselves up for puffed-up expectations. Instead, let’s take a look at what we have that’s working. Let’s keep our hopes tied to what we are loving now. We don’t need to fling our energy out into the new year like a scattered seed when we can keep it close and grow more. We can grow stronger.

Take Inventory

You have skills. Ideas float in your head. Do you know how far away you are from success? Where is a success? Is it a place? A feeling? Will it find you? Or do you put on your hiking boots to climb the mountain, kissing the hand of the King that grants special favors?

Keep Yourself Together

Can you name one thing you do rather well? What about five? This week it would be good if you could find the time to grab some paper, any paper, even the back of an envelope, and a writing implement. Write the numbers one through five in a list format. Put this list on your bathroom mirror or your refrigerator, somewhere you will see it. We are going to list our best skills.

The List

Let’s start. Write five skills.

  • Do you keep your promises?
  • Maybe you’re on time.
  • Can you write a moving speech?
  • Do you care for children who love you?
  • Taking care of your body with good food and walking is a real achievement.
  • Have you recently learned a valuable lesson for life?

These are items and others like them could be on your list. What do you do well? What is going right? This is the foundation upon which you can build a better life. If you remember, place the paper in a prominent place.

I’d love to hear some of your achievements.

One Thing List

If you find yourself not finishing projects and you want to retrain your mind, here is a tactic. Make a list and do one thing a day to keep yourself accountable. By practicing daily, we climb out of the ruts where we are stuck. We can make short, easy to complete tasks such as reading one paragraph or dancing five minutes. Continue until you relearn the pleasure that comes from your accomplishments. Feel the pride. It’s your thing.

Be Strong

Your mind will try to protect you from this but know you are safe. You’ll have enough energy left over, enough time, and even enough inspiration. You won’t run out of fuel. Your mind is locked in scarcity and is protecting you by holding that mode.

Did I Do This?

The product you have in front of you is the result of years of practice. If you like what you see, keep going. Otherwise, it’s never too late for improvement.

Feel the breeze. Notice what you like and enjoy it. Make it happen again.

Permit yourself to be happy today. I have not always allowed myself to enjoy my current progress. I wasn’t where I needed to be yet. How will I ever appreciate more if I can’t see today’s beauty?

Today, find your sunshine.

Do We Create or Channel?

I look back at work I wrote a year ago, and I don’t recognize it as my own. Yes, I know the piece. I wrote it. The characters are mine, and the art is authentic, but sometimes as if another person works through me.

I DO ME

Flow is the place we aspire to be. It’s a surfer’s dream. To lose the struggle and only know exhilaration and glory, man! That’s the ideal. We all want that, don’t we? Then why do I white knuckle it?

Losing control is not a feeling I enjoy. When I was younger, the coasting downhill on my bike was good. Not flying through the air and losing my sense of direction. But in my fear I find release. There’s a comfort—An “Oh dear gawd I’m going to die—Okay maybe not.” And relief that I didn’t. All is alright. It’s a time when I learned to let go of me.

The greatest benefit of being a solo performer is that it is seriously frightening, but at the same time very empowering. It’s just you and the audience. All the weight is on you to deliver the songs.

Zola Jesus

CRUNCH TIME

Some of the things I’ve done which scared the shit out of me, I leaped into them fully, feet first. I had an idea and started. Once I painted my kitchen cabinets. Yes, I researched the hows. I bought supplies. But I had no experience. I took the first step, then the second. Sometime in the middle, I realized there was no turning back. I was committed. I would finish this project. It’s at these junctures when you turn the music loud and get to work.

Fan Stuff

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What To Know

I’m completing a novel currently titled I’m In Love With A Gangsta. Not the final title obviously, but I had to start somewhere. Come and see the status. Check up on it periodically. I’ll let everyone know when it’s off to editing.

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