Queen of Hearts

I think of winter as silent and cold, a time when nature forgets. In the winter, seeds are dormant. Ever been there? Oh, I have. Silent, still, and unmoving. I was young and didn’t know much about life.

Growing up, I didn’t develop well emotionally. I had been asleep. It sounds cliche. Melodrama really isn’t my thing. But, there was a moment when something inside came alive, and the circuits connected. I awoke. That was when I recognized the brokenness surrounding me. And I wasn’t doing anyone good by living in denial. As it says in Genesis, 3: 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Well, I wasn’t naked, but my family wasn’t as perfect as I thought either.

“Images of the Goddess help to break the hold of “male control” that has shaped our images not only of God, but of all significant power in the universe.”

-Carol P. Christ, from: Rebirth of the Goddess

There’s a shame in my family, and it needs to be cleansed. I’ve been trying to heal through journaling, genealogy, therapy, talking with my family, prayer, and meditation. I sincerely hope to trigger healing in others. Hopefully this is helpful for others because I know I am not alone in this sadness.

We’ve had multiple decades of men in battle. Like bricks stacked upon each other, fathers and then sons have waved goodbye to families who wept for them. Women, whether they were mothers, sisters or wives participated as they could. For a family member, waiting would be agony.

Soldiers gave up personal freedom, hopes, and put their personal wishes aside for the call of duty. With their life on the line, and having to overcome fear every day, all they knew was to be strong. Survival was important. There wasn’t time for hope. It was mud, blood, guns, and keep yourself from freezing to death in the winter. Pay attention to their surroundings. Don’t get killed. Hoping and dreaming, that was for later. So, love was put to sleep. Remember the 1950’s? Duty was Queen. And she had no heart.

Generations of war created a lineage of patriarchy and abuse. Hearts were cold. There’s generational rape, molestation, child abuse, and years of silence. Shame. Try taking this history of pathology and develop a healthy person. Here I am, as well as my parents. I took my underdeveloped self and tried to create a healthy marriage with another. I say underdeveloped since I had no idea what love was. In my family genealogy, love has been asleep for a long time.

We know duty. Survival is our best skill. After that, we start having issues. And as most therapists will tell you, a person will gravitate toward what they know. Which is why people return to the same type of relationships over and over, like a reoccurring nightmare. Or you marry someone like your parents. We’re not only comfortable with the familiar, but it feels right. They fit you. They plug that void you need to fill. We call it love. Funny. Is it really love? Maybe.

I’ve been asking this question for years, what is love? Someday I might know the answer. I know what it’s not. Love is not pain. It is open and giving without holding the other person back from their potential. Love is not bullying, pushy, or brutish in it’s giving. Love is a gift. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying. If their “LOVE” comes with strings attached, then it is not loving.

Love your people today.

Arna Baartz -Artist (painting reposted from thegirlgod.com)

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Elusive

It’s the word you can almost remember, the rare bird a watcher is longing to see or for some it’s a word of praise.

I have conquered tasks most of my life with my simple method. Break a job down into steps. I’ve used this method over and over, and it works. Mostly. Big projects and small projects can be broken down into steps, and it’s easy to see results, which usually inspires me to keep working.

How do you eat an elephant, is the age-old question–one bite at a time. Then there’s my back up plan, persistence. And doggone determination.

Being a type A person makes me believe if something didn’t happen, I must take action and fix it. And my conflict lies with my elusive projects which I’ve repetitively set aside time to complete.

I’m finding some of them are taking longer to chew. Are my methods broken? Or am I trying too hard? The latter is becoming my belief.

In time management, the belief seems to be that all goals can be achieved, we can make our dreams real if we apply ourselves. The current trend is to get up an hour earlier than usual. For me this would be 4:30 A.M. The realistic version of my life, the body which requires sleep, the person who has a mentally challenging job, and the pain from disabling migraines, these are challenges adding to my obstacle course. Everyone has something.

To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. Alan Watts

I did the caffeinated, early morning, get up one-hour earlier challenge. I spent more energy concentrating on getting up an hour before than on doing what I wanted to do.

Next, I worked on my projects during lunch breaks, a time hack I’ve read about over and over again. It’s good. Did I mention that I have a mentally challenging job? And that people come to my coworker and me often with questions?

Lately, I feel my the finish is elusive, like the word I can’t quite remember. My advice to myself, Chill out sister. Let it come.

Everything in life is elusive. Gloria Vanderbilt

Check out Londonlozi.com regarding the elusive half-collared kingfisher sighting in the picture.

The Thing About Neighbors

I was walking into my complex and overheard a conversation inside my downstairs neighbor’s condo. Not strange, except she lives alone. I paused in my curiosity. Yes, I’m nosy. “You don’t appreciate anything I do for you.” I imagined her little dogs lined up on the couch being lectured. It’s like she was playing school, but she wasn’t a child. Medication needed?

Young

One of my young guy neighbors was trying to hide his motorcycle inside since management was trying to impound it. He didn’t like parking it out front with the cars and as he stated it, “they are on my ass.” So up the stairs, he struggled and shoved until it was inside the condo. I wonder how his girlfriend felt about the chunk of metal in the living room?

Old

We have an older gentleman, one of the few condo owners who live here, besides me, who is working to clean the grounds. He is a well-dressed fellow, dress shirt, suspenders, and slacks. I’ll see him sometimes in the morning getting into his Mustang GT. I’ve never asked where he goes. Is he still working at his age? I’m not sure even how old he is. In the evenings and weekends, he’s picking up leaves and trash.

All

Neighbors remind me of the story Stone soup. At first glance my neighbors are annoying and I don’t know why I stay at this place. But I’m the stone, the rock in the middle of all this pot of water. They bring the flavor. The painter, a dog trainer, a nurse, and many more good people live here. If I get to know people their lives become more than static, more than the ugly boom, boom bass that disturbs me. Neighbors are people living their life. I have to re-frame it sometimes, understand the annoyance and let it go.

Something to read:

Wait..Don’t Stop Trying

unwindingDo you meditate and think, I’m just not really good at this? Your mind drifts off and you think about the movie you’d really like to be watching. Might as well be sitting on the couch watching television. Right? Not quite. I was listening to a podcast earlier which isn’t quite related, but did make me think of this, and yes, I’ll explain.

Saints and Prophets

We love our gurus. Pedestals and high statues. India is well known for putting their spiritualists at quite an exalted status. But there are those in other parts of the world that do the same. I’ve heard many in my culture talk about how wonderful Mrs. Smith or Brown is. She never says a bad word about anyone. She goes to church every week and prays an hour a day. Blah, blah, blah. This is usually followed with a self-depreciating, I’m just not that good of a person. If you come to that conclusion, you’ve missed the point.

Games

Most of us grow up living life as if it’s a game. Level up. Goals to beat. Lives to live. School, job, marriage, children, etc. Somewhere in there, we throw in vacations as bonus runs, just for fun, and we call it a good game. If we think we need extra life points, we go to a doctor, a priest, or even a yoga studio. Some of us have gotten into meditation thinking we can add even more health points. There’s some talk that it can give you some super powers, or have you heard? Yeah, be careful with that one.

We aren’t going anywhere

The point is, we in the western philosophy are goal seekers. We want a prize. We get a trainer to get the abs, so we can get the girl, or am I wrong? Let’s get this straight. I meditate to remember myself. Me. To clear away the clutter of everyone else. I can do this by journaling if I wish. I could go for a long walk in the park instead. Anything away from structure and demands. Drawing, painting, sailing, biking, tanning. So if today my mind wanders a bit, it’s okay. In it’s wandering, it allows me the freedom to release and let go. I relax. Then, I return to myself once again, and slip out of the coils that the choke hold of daily life had held me in. And it feels so good to be me again.

The book, Death on Diamond Mountain, is just a glimpse into one of those moments when things go wrong. Take a glimpse. If you’re a Plus member of Mysterious Universe or you want to be they give you an interview with the author. Quite a trip, but it’s not about the meditation that I’m talking about. Peace be with you and Namaste. 

To End Suffering

I grew up loving the candles, the quiet, the chanting, the sitting and waiting, that I found in religion. The ceremony. It was serious, pure, and poignant. Which to my mind as a child meant powerful. Like weddings and presidential inaugurations.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. Dalai Lama

To End Suffering

Humanitarians try to end human kind’s suffering by making the world a better place. To make society better. Can you feed your family? Can you get water? Education? Equal rights? Equal access to funding or resources?  Top 5 Humanitarian Aid Organizations – BorgenProject.org

The Buddha taught that suffering came from our mind. We resist. We think. We worry. Stop these and suffering ends. When suffering ends, we simply are. There is no more “I.” There is no more “Want.” All that remains is the stillness. Even when the good things in life happen, there can be suffering. Good days, bad days. The Buddha, himself, was a man. He also left his religion. He left his home and family. He left his gods. He never claimed to be a god. He only claimed to be awake. In this awakening, he wished to teach others. There was no conversion or baptism or cutting of the flesh.

The wisdom of the Buddha is currently trapped within the religion of Buddhism.  Killing the Buddha – Sam Harris

Buddhism vs. Humanitarianism

I’d always respected Buddhism with their mindfulness and care for others. Recently I wondered how it differed from Humanitarianism? Don’t they both with to help others? I didn’t know until I explored. There is religion in Buddhism. But how much you want to get into it is up to you and which version of Buddhism you study. Some are heavy on the Karma. Karmic debt. Karmic cleansing. It wasn’t as clean and simple as I had once thought it was.

I never believed in Original sin from my religion, so I can’t see myself picking up Karmic debt. I’ll be as good as I can and see what happens. I can’t follow a guru or wear a toga. I can be kind. I want to see society change. It won’t happen overnight, but I think it can happen. It can happen if we change who we are first. Because, isn’t that how all things start? You can’t make good coffee out of dirty water. And you have to pull the splinter out of your own eye before you can remove the board from another’s eye. At least that’s what I heard from another wise man.

My Take

Helping and giving is my religion. I don’t need people bend their knees at my prayer mat or light their candle with my brand of matches. I hope they can be well and help others to be well. You don’t even have to know my name.

You Win

Your life is not a failure. My life is not a failure. We haven’t quit and we haven’t failed. Let me set the scene for what I’m talking about. Years ago, women had big families, not always because they wanted to. Men had to work long hours in the fields or doing jobs wherever they could. Coal mining, deep-sea fishing, fighting wars they didn’t start. This was their lives, how they bent. Like the tree swaying with the wind, they leaned and they bent so they didn’t break. We inherited generations’ worth of genetics and heritage. Maybe you have Granddad’s blue eyes or his height. Remember he was so tall he had to stoop when he came through the door frame? Well my gramps was tall and thin. I remember his jean overalls and his pipe. I also remember how his shoulders had a bit of slump. I also remember my mom telling my brother to sit up straight. A lot.

Most of us try to kick habits and to better ourselves. We encourage our kids to study hard and take the steps for success just as we’ve done for ourselves. So you’ve tried to lose the weight. I know you have. It’s not because you lack willpower. Maybe it’s the technique or maybe it’s not. You want to be healthy. You want to stop smoking. You want to watch your kids grow up. You haven’t failed. Get back up. take another step. If you’ve reached this point there is this one thing you need to know. There are some things in life we learn to live with. That doesn’t mean you’ll never quit that habit. It just means there aren’t any miracle cures.

I know people who have personality disorders. I’m sure you do too. I know those that have diabetes and heart problems that would love a miracle cure. And someday medicine and science may find that cure. But until that day we have to handle our bodies with their handicaps as if we might have to live with them. I think with all the self-help and positive thinking we forgot something. Genetics and hereditary still play a part in our lives. Take a tall lanky child for instance. It doesn’t matter how many books you stack on his head, or how many mantras or meditations he would do. He’s going to be tall. And with that will possibly come the stooped shoulders. Thanks Granddad.

I’m blessed with my mom’s pot belly. I’ve never had a flat stomach. When I was 20 I weighed 110 pounds and still had a belly. I could do setups on a slant board. One day I did over 50. Flat stomach? Ha! Nope. Will I stop trying to lose weight? probably not. I’m stubborn like that. And like my continual effort to write my thoughts, like my always wanting to push just a little harder, comes the constant tug of war between wanting to have a thin body and the desire for more ice cream. Some things don’t change.

You exist and no one can take that away from you.

This is a daily lifestyle. This is your daily life. How you live each day doesn’t decide if you fail or win. You win regardless. You are here. You are alive, so you win. You exist, so you can’t lose. It’s not “if I can buy status symbol car I win” sort of deal. If you have no car, if you have no legs, if you have no job, you still win. You exist and no one can take that away from you. What winning looks like to each person is different. Maybe you need to revamp the image you have in your head of what winning is to you. That’s easy.

There are some things that will not change, so we deal with them. Not in a negative “put up with” way. Every day I get up and eat breakfast and take 15 – 30 minutes to wake up. I need that. Eating is mandatory or my body will get shaky and my head will hurt. These are the things I know about myself. There’s no overcoming necessary. This is me. I deal with me. I accept who I am and take the steps needed to make sure I have a meal and slow wake ups. Caring for myself.

You may never get over your fear of dogs. Or heights. You may not finish that bucket list before you die. Don’t let that stop you from putting impossible dreams on your list. It’s okay if you never see the Eiffel Tower or dive into the deep end of the swimming pool. When I was young I thought I had to be able to do everything. I thought I had to conquer every fear and challenge. Where did this thought come from? I really don’t know, but I’m glad to know it’s not true. I don’t have to EVER climb mount Everest. I NEVER EVER have to skydive. Silly as it may seem, I lived the first 30 years of my life thinking I needed to be able to do these things and not be afraid of them. How unrealistic. Somewhere along the way I decided to just stay afraid. Then I learned true freedom.

It’s perfectly alright to live imperfectly.

So forget striving for the top and pushing yourself til you break. The living is not in constant raw edge. The living just is. Right now, regardless if you are on the edge, on the top, or laying somewhere on the bottom after falling over, you are alive. You win.

 

The Softer Side of Me

Anxiety - Stress ... Time management vital for...

I want to curl up on the couch and be warm and snuggly.  I’m on my couch now but I don’t feel warm and snuggly. You know that feeling when you were a child, home and sick. Not so sick you couldn’t watch TV, but too sick for school. I’d lay there with my quilt and pillow and doze off and on, not a care in the world. That’s what I mean by warm and snuggly.

There’s not as many times I let myself feel that way. If I take the time off to lay there then I feel I guilty about not completing a project like putting up some closet shelves. There’s always work needing done. I wish someone would give me permission to sit down. Would it be so wrong of me to give myself permission?

What makes us push so hard? We all feel it these days. The works never done. It seems there’s no dividing line between piling more things on our to-do list and the work we do for pay. It all just keeps growing and there’s no time to complete it. So we keep pushing along. Once the sun was our cue. When we couldn’t see the hand in front of our face we had to quit. Now we get out the spotlights and keep on plowing. No need to stop.

We have the good life when it comes to survival. We have food, clothing, running water, shelter and all of that. We have luxuries and entertainment. But there’s no scheduled time out. No choice. Must stop. One day rolls into another until we finally roll into our 6 foot deep plot. My personality demands a completion point. Even when I’m reading a book, I like to know how many pages are left before the end of the chapter. I look at the total minutes of the movies I’m watching. I mentally half and quarter the time. Strange? Bizarre for certain. I wonder if there are others out there that do something similar. And why do I need to do this? I like completion. When I finish something, I get that temporary mental feedback. That little burst of endorphin that says ‘good job’. We all have it in some degree. Maybe you’ve never noticed. Did you clean out the garage? Did you feel the need to tell someone? Facebook is great for this. We are such social beings that we need to tell everyone the most mundane actions of our lives. “Went to the store. Long lines at the gas station.” “Finally mowed the lawn.” And even though we know most of our friends don’t really care, we feel compelled to share. These harmless little actions just make my point. We completed a task. We checked it off of our list and want acknowledgement. No biggie.

Fudge snuggles

I’ve heard that the chemical reinforcement in our neurological structure is the reason we make lists. Also it’s the reason we add to that list if we’ve completed a task that we didn’t list originally and check it off. We don’t want to miss anything. We are reinforcing our accomplishments. Yay for us!  Pats on the back all around.

So my difficulty is, how do I allow myself to rest? Giving myself permission doesn’t come easily. One thing I’m learning is compassion for myself. I’ve started doing a compassion meditation (see below). Very simple. I sit and think forgiving and kind thoughts towards others, whether friends or strangers. I also include myself. I wish blessing and good things on others during this time. I acknowledge them as doing their best and allow them freedom themselves. I believe this makes me a softer person. And by becoming softer, I can allow myself to relax. It’s a start for me. For me this method is more effective than my earlier way, which was lists and lists and lists. As I said, they never seem to be finished. With this way I can relax even when things aren’t perfect. It’s taken me a long time to get where I am, and I know I have a long way to go. This is my journey.