Sunday, November 21, 2010


A friend of mine pointed out last week that there are a lot of "damaged" people walking around.  I have been pondering that a lot lately, and I must admit it has me kind of down.

So many people in so much pain.  Why?  Why do we have to suffer?  Because it is our lot in life.  That sounds awfully trite, but it's the thought that came into my head so I wrote it down.  And then this one came.  We must suffer to grow.  Without the suffering, there is no challenge.  Without the suffering, there is no need to change, to evolve.  We have a choice.  Do we rise above the challenge, and use it as our catalyst to propel us into something bigger and better?  To help us accomplish whatever it is that our soul is longing to experience?  Or do we let it consume us?  Eat away at us from the inside, until there is nothing left but a hollow shell, incapable of feelings or actions.

Most times the "damage" we suffer comes from something (or someone) outside of our immediate control.  Although we may not have control over the original incident, we do have control over how we choose to let it affect our lives.  Do we use it as a crutch?  As an excuse for never taking responsibility?  Do we let the fear of being hurt again consume us so that we can never reach out?

Or like the chick in the egg, do we take the chance that there is a beautiful world on the other side of this blackness that envelopes us.  Do we have the courage to break through the wall separating us from our destiny; or do we stay inside this shell and die from lack of nourishment?  Do we stretch and grow like a flower bulb in spring, reaching for the warmth of the sun?  A sun that isn't yet visible  but our instinct tells us that it is there, just waiting to be discovered.  Or do we shrivel and die like an unpicked grape on the vine.

Do we rise above the "damage" or let it consume us?  Each one of us must make that choice for ourselves.  There is no right or wrong, only what is best for you.  Your soul knows the answer and can help you make the choice.  Let it speak to you.  And then listen.

Breathing Lessons

I seem to be having a hard time getting organized lately.  "Hurry up we're running late," seems to be my mantra of choice recently, and I'm making a conscious effort to change that.  My son and I did some volunteer work last week before I went to work.  I purposely left home early so that we wouldn't be rushed.  I made one stop at a store on the way, and then managed to get stuck in rush hour traffic.  That would've been ok, except I ended up on the wrong street.  Twice.

After making a concerted effort to be on time and still being twenty minutes late, I was getting frazzled.  I started muttering to myself under my breath.  Berating myself for always being rushed, asking why this had to happen again.  I was about to break down and cry when a tiny voice of reason drifted up from the back seat.

"Don't cry mama.  Stay calm.  It's ok.  Try your magic breathing."  Apparently my son has actually been listening to me.

As I tried to calm down I realized my feelings weren't just something I could switch off.  I knew I was being irrational, but I needed a way to release the frustration before I could feel better.  Far too many of us just swallow those feelings down; burying them in a deep dark place inside.  Harboring them for later, when they begin to infect us from within, causing dis-ease because they were never released and dealt with properly.

I thought of the words to one of my son's songs.  "It's alright to cry.  Crying gets the sad out of you."  I mentioned this to my son, who again told me to try my magic breathing (Close your eyes, slow inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth).

It wasn't until today that I realized the lesson from getting lost and being late for the volunteering.  Not only did I learn that my son actually pays attention to what I tell him, but I learned first hand how hard it is to do the things I tell him.

When he is having a full blown melt down because he is exhausted or frustrated, I expect him to stop behaving like that as quickly as possible.  I've taught him about magic breathing, never realizing how hard it was to accomplish when your emotions are like a pinball machine and you just need to vent.

I've been around a lot of parents lately that expect their children to "get some control" and never show any emotion.  I feel really sorry for these kids, and I think we all need a constructive way to release emotions.  My son was upset the other day, and he went over and started banging on his drum.  Some parents might have been upset by this "lack of control," but I was actually really proud of him.  To me, it was a positive way to release negative energy that if buried inside, could cause him harm later.

Am I saying we should all go around yelling and banging on things every time we're upset?  Of course not.  But I am saying that it's alright to cry.  Or bang a drum.  Or hit a punching bag or pillow.  Or stomp your feet.  It doesn't matter how old you are.  Let your sad out.  Or anger, frustration, hurt - whatever it is you're dealing with.  And feel the freedom of release.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writing on the Wall

I found it hard to sleep last night.  Session 3 of my writing class left me with all kinds of interesting possibilities, and I couldn't wait to wake up and start working with them and writing.  Now as I sit in the car dealership waiting for my car, with all of the time in the world to write, I am avoiding it like the plague. I've wasted time sending e-mail.  I've even thought of doing the test for work I've been procrastinating about.  And now I'm blogging.  What am I avoiding?  And why am I so afraid?

I don't have to ask the question, I already know the answer.  My class is about transforming myself through my writing, and I have definitely been doing that.  I know that once I break down the walls there will be no more excuses, no reason not to continue on this journey.  I feel like I am ready for that, but obviously there is a part of me that is not.

Yesterday was an insecure, emotional day for me after reading the assignments of my writing classmates. Although I was very proud of my assignment, I started to panic and feel inferior after reading theirs.  I kept telling myself that their journey is not mine.  Their stories are not mine.  Even still, I felt the old drive to be the best kicking in.

I had a discussion with a friend the other night about seeking approval vs. feedback.  I realized I have spent my entire life searching for approval.  If I didn't get it, I would change myself so that I would.  Now I am at the stage of my life where I am on the cusp of letting go of the approval.  Of not caring what others think of me, not changing myself to conform to what others think I should be.  I'm realizing that part of my journey is to be true to myself.  The only approval that matters is my own.

I have a lot to learn about writing, and I want honest feedback so I can learn and grow.  At the same time, there is a part of me that feels like a failure if someone doesn't like what I've written.  If they have a suggestion then that means I've failed.  I haven't accomplished my lifelong goal of pleasing everyone.

Deep down, I know my writing will reach those that it's meant to.  Not everyone will like it or be touched by it, and some may not even understand it.  I was actually a bit shocked with the feedback on my piece in class last night.  It was all very positive, and the suggestions that were made gave me some great ideas for further growth.  Instead of feeling inferior I was actually excited; hence the reason I couldn't sleep.

I don't have anything left to do now but write my next assignment.  Part of me thinks if I take long enough to type this my car will be ready and I won't have to start.  I don't know what this resistance is, but I'm summoning up the courage to break through this wall.  First I need a cup of coffee, and then I need to find my sledgehammer.  This wall is coming down, but I need to write some graffiti on it first.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Call

I wrote this on day 4 at Warrior Monk.

When do I not feel the call? Lately it is my constant companion. I can feel it luring me, and I welcome it. But what exactly am I being called to do? I realize I am on the path, the deer trail before me hidden in the woods, but the end is unknown. The last word of the sentence “I am” remains elusive. What I discovered today is that the word I’m searching for is elusive because there is no word. I can stop frantically searching for a title for what I am being called to be because there is no title. To give it a title would impose a limit – and my potential is limitless. Writer, teacher, healer, I can be all of those and more. With a sense of astonishment I realize that I can’t see the end of the path because there is no end. I am writing, teaching, healing right now – in this very minute – and so much more. This is my calling. Welcome calling.

The Deer

I'm taking a writing class, and a few weeks ago our first assignment was to write about object, place, and character.  The instructor said I did well with the object and place (I wrote about a stone circle in Scotland), but that I needed to flush out the character a little bit more (myself).  He suggested I write a timeline of my life, just general events and dates, to get me going.  When I sat down to do this, all I kept writing about was my dad and my relationship to him.

My dad passed away the day after Christmas 2006.  He worked for over 40 years at a job he hated to support his family, and he would have done anything for us.  The problem was that he didn't trust people.  He did the best he could, but I grew up feeling like I had to question everything and everyone, especially myself.  I worked on this quite a bit at Warrior Monk.  Learning to trust myself, releasing fear and doubt.  Finally able to accept who I am, even if it is different from what others expect of me.

I don't think my dad would have understood the spiritual quest I'm on now when he was alive.  Stick to the sure thing, the safe thing, he would have said.  Avoid the unknown. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy, and he couldn't even understand why I wanted to be a vegetarian.  Somehow I feel a deeper connection to him now that he has passed, almost like he is guiding me.  Not only do I think he understands, but I think he wants me to succeed on this new path, whatever it turns out to be.  He's no longer pointing out everything that could go wrong with my new endeavors, but showing me the deer trail through the woods that will send me on my way.

I arrived early at Warrior Monk to do some writing.  I was standing close to the house, looking for the perfect spot to write.  A deer came up out of the woods, looked right at me, and continued to walk towards me.  My dad was an avid deer hunter, and he taught me quite a bit about them.  In all of my years of watching deer, I have never seen this happen.  Frustratingly, a car came around the corner at that point and scared her away.

Every time we went outside over the next few days, I saw a deer, sometimes several.  Even the last day.  I had to leave early to get home for Halloween, and as usual I was running late.  I wanted to write one more poem beneath my "inspiration tree" before I left, so without much grace I bounded through the woods as fast as I could.  Looking down so I didn't fall, I didn't realize how close the deer were.  When I finally looked up I saw the 4 white tails flying, as the deer tried to escape this crazy person wrecking their peace and crashing through the woods.

The deer are a sign to me that my dad continues to accompany me on this journey of self discovery.  I am slowly shedding this skin that no longer fits, and blossoming into the me that I was always meant to be.  Thanks for the encouragement and guidance Dad.  Just watch me grow.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Leaf

I wrote this the second day of Warrior Monk, as I laid on the grass watching the leaves flutter thru the breeze.  It feels like a poem, but I have no idea how to punctuate a poem.  It doesn't matter.

The golden leaves shower down like rain, the gentle caress of the wind enticing them to leave the safety and nourishment of the tree.

But the tree is not really nourishing them anymore, which makes it easier for them to leave.  To take the invitation of the wind and unabashedly proceed to the next stage of life.

The stage where they decompose and provide nourishment for another.

If only I could leave the tree so freely, with reckless abandon.  Is it really reckless, or just finding a new source of nourishment?

Releasing something that no longer serves me, but instead drains the color and life out of me.

I must do this to survive.

The leaf knows what to do.  Why don't I?

I Am Free

"It was only my acceptance of labels and definitions of others that made me "Who I Am Now," when, in reality, I was free to be anyone."  An excerpt from "The Sin Eater's Last Confession."

I've spent my life being the over achiever, trying to please everyone.  I always felt the need to make people proud of me, to be proud of myself.  "Do whatever it takes to get the pat on the back and make people like you," seemed to be my motto.  What I'm realizing now is that it doesn't matter if other people like you, the most important thing is that you like yourself.  Rumi said, "start a huge foolish project like Noah.  It makes absolutely no difference what people think of you."  I think I finally understand that, and I am letting myself start to believe it.

I spent a lot of time at Warrior Monk dealing with the fear, worry, and doubt that surrounded me growing up.  I had a wonderful childhood with very loving parents, and I mean them no disrespect by what I'm about to say.  The feeling I carried with me from childhood thru becoming an adult is that the world is not a safe or happy place, and this came mostly from my Dad.  Don't trust anyone, always question someones motives, think of what could go wrong and the reasons you can't, shouldn't, wouldn't etc.

I have fallen right into this belief system, and I didn't trust anyone, let alone myself.  I've been ignoring my intuition and longing, knowing that I'm called to do something to help others, but questioning where this feeling is coming from.  The old, "What if" question kept rearing it's ugly head.  "What if" something goes wrong?  "What if" you make the wrong decision.  The lack of trust in myself is holding me back from doing something bigger with my life.  Well, it was holding me back.  I managed to dump a lot of my fear, worry and doubt at Warrior Monk thru their creation exercises.  They made me realize that the things I get most upset about are my own creations.  If they are my creations and I create my own reality, then I can change by beliefs or release those that no longer serve me.  This is a very simplified description of a complex process, but hopefully you get the idea.

So now I find myself at the threshold of a new path.  No longer worried so much about what other people think of me, and ready to see the world in a new, rose colored light.  Am I going to be naive and stupid?  No.  But I am also not going to be afraid to express the true me, the real me that has been bottled up inside for a while.

This blog has been the first step in expressing myself, and I'm ready to let more people know about it.  Some of my closest friends don't even know I'm writing it, and I think they will be quite surprised.  If I start to get nervous I will just think of Noah, and all that he accomplished by not worrying about what others thought of him.  I'm sure some of his friends thought he had lost his mind.  I may not accomplish what Noah did for the world, but what I will accomplish by being true to myself is invaluable to me.  Don't worry friends, there may not be a flood coming, but I know what I'm doing.

Am I A Warrior Or A Monk?

I'm back.  Quite literally.  I spent last week here at Warrior Monk, and yet again I have had another experience that defies a description in words.  To say that it was life changing sounds like an exaggeration, but it truly was a life changing experience.  My re-entry back to the real world has been slow, and that is why it's taken me so long to get back on the computer again.

During the 5 day retreat we had no phone, tv, radio, or computer, and we were encouraged not to wear a watch.  I don't have an addiction to the first 3 items so they were not difficult for me to give up, but giving up my addiction to time was an effort.  I am constantly looking at my watch, and it seems that the more time I spend looking at it the faster the time passes.  I am amazed how long an hour can seem when you're not counting it in 5 minute increments.  I actually spent the first week after class without a watch, and I only put it back on yesterday to come to work.  I always knew what time it was even without the watch, and I think I will continue to go without one when I am at home.  Timeliness is a good asset for a pilot to have, so I guess I will continue to wear a watch for work.  But I won't be happy about it!

At the retreat, we were awakened every morning before dawn with a bell chime, and it was so nice to wake up to a beautiful sound instead of the incessant honking of an obnoxious alarm clock.  I'm not sure if it was the chime or the excitement over the day ahead, but I found myself leaping out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning.  When I try to get up before dawn at home, I always end up turning the alarm off and going back to sleep.  I'm hoping that will change, because for my peace and tranquility at home I am definitely investing in a gentler alarm clock.

I can't believe I'm actually admitting to this, and don't tell my husband I said it, but I actually enjoyed having someone else in charge for 5 days.  Not having to worry about when to get up, when to eat or what to cook, or when I had to be somewhere was a refreshing change.  All of my needs were met, and I felt safe and encouraged instead of fearful and worried.  I did not have to worry about disappointing anyone except myself.

I also came away from the week with a newfound appreciation for poetry.  I have never enjoyed poetry before, either reading or writing it, and have always found it quite intimidating.  I thought all poetry had to have some sort of strict structure and form, and I certainly didn't feel intelligent enough to write it.  I lumped it into the category I use with crossword puzzles.  It makes me feel stupid when I don't "get it", so I won't even try.

Every poem that was read during the retreat spoke directly to my heart.  Not only did I understand them, but it was as if they had been written specifically for me.  The first morning we meditated, took a walk, and then came back inside and opened our workbooks.  When they said we were going to write a poem next, I think I laughed out loud.  That was before the fear took over and my palms started sweating.  The combination of meditating, the influence of being outside in nature, and the love bubble of people that surrounded me, encouraged me to put aside the fear and write. And I loved it.  In fact, one of my goals is to write 30 poems by Dec. 1.  I'm up to 9 so far.  You might even see a few of them here.

This post is already much longer than I had intended, so I will end it for now.  I'm sure I will continue to discuss the experience in the next few blogs.  For some reason I have resisted writing about my experience until now.  It was all I could do to not crawl into bed tonight and put this off yet another night.  I'm not quite sure why I keep coming up with excuses, but I will try to blog more.  If I have time after the poetry!  I told you it was life changing.