Back many zears ago when I was introduced to Scrabble…. I groaned when I pulled the letters Z and Q. In my head, I zhink ok…I’m zunk. At least if you picked up a U with a Q there was hope. One day after a particularly irritating game of X, Q and Z, I googled words that contain Z. Holy crap, Zman, you are valuable…not only are you worth 10 points on your own but together with z other letters, you, alone can contribute 30 points to a word on a TW block. Z very important to have.
As things come together in my life, I’m reminded of concepts, rules, disciplines that I’ve learned and agreed to throughout the years. Some taught to me, other expected of me, many I agreed to due to manipulation but most of them adopted by me because of fear and control issues.
After a particularly emotional, healing and nurturing Love and Wellness Zoom meeting with several of my UVC peeps this afternoon, I came away knowing that I continue to fight/battle Z emotions. The destructive habits I have learned soooo well over the years keep me in my own misery. Releasing dreaded public tears, I felt my fear and anxiety washing away. As we said our “see”-you-laters, once again I learned that the Z’s in my life are valuable and there for a reason. I MUST learn to sit with them, feel them until “magically Z find its place on my spiritual scrabble board as I release zit.
I’m a long time student of “TRYING” to give up enough fear per day to allow me to release opinions, judgement and those things I have no control over. A few years ago I embraced the fact that I really have no “control” over anything. Thinking we have the ability to control everything is an illusion. Might as well order a “safety cape” which can be purchased online for $9.99.
Judgements….we make judgements on how people look, their gender, their eating habits, their living habits, their ancestors, what car they drive, how they drive, how often they mow their grass, how they parent their children, why they don’t paint their house, how many children they have, how their children behave, their marital status, their sexual identification. Not leaving out the judgements on why people have ill health, “I knew this was going to happen to them!” I saw this coming because they….. I believe first we must become aware that we are making judgements. And how often in our day we are feeling safe and satisfied because we know “they” are wrong. Doing this work, I’ve often asked myself why does it feel so good to be right? Why does it feel so good to elevate myself to a higher position of knowing what’s right for everyone else in my own thinking?
Is this a learned behavior from our parents, our grandparents, our politicians, our teachers….in other words are we adopting our attitudes and judgements from someone else and often don’t even know why we judge or hold tight to “our” beliefs the way we do? Or are these judgements born out of fear….we are afraid…we judge other as some type of control maneuver that protects our physical bodies…our mental health…or the kicker we don’t even know what we are afraid of but what “they” are doing just cannot be right.
It’s a struggle!! But, moment by moment we need to be aware of our fear thoughts and judgements and heal ourselves from the inside out!
I think the real question we need to ask each other and ask ourselves is this…..wherever we are in chronological age, do we have the same moral compass, the same opinions about other humans, race, sex, love and war that we did even a decade ago. How often and what exactly is the process for changing our opinions?
Without rules or an agenda today, my mind entertained me with questions and “answer” periods which seemed more like flashes of understanding. While I don’t really apologize for opinions I have honored through the decades of my life….they are illusions, anyway….thoughts and illusions of how I saw things based on how I showed up in each moment. These thoughts and illusions have changed often and each new declaration of opinion has been a barometer of my life…often liberating and somewhat painful.
I’m not really sure where to go with this thought process right now. I wonder if the answer is looking deep within ourselves individually and as a society in order to uncover what has made us angry, intolerant and hateful. When did we forsake humanity for selfishness and fear of “the other guy”? When did it happen in our personal timeline….when did fear become the prevailing emotion? Where, when and how does it stop?
I write this with a sticky thumb from the sticky knife I’m using to eat from an old cream cheese frosting container as I goop it on saltine crackers. It all started last night and I knew it was going to be a serious one because I don’t eat sugar…so not only did I know that it was going to be unhealthy, mess with my blood sugar and cause sickening sugar heartburn, I gave in. I was actually rather irritated that I couldn’t use the graham crackers in the cupboard that I bought for a graham cracker crust for Thanksgiving day dessert…..because you see frosting and graham crackers have always been a go-to for triggers. So the story I told myself to make it better was…see…..I do have SOME discipline!
I am learning that triggers are reactions to discomfort within. Something or someone irritates me, or causes me to feel discomfort (sad, envious, hurt) down there in my heart or in my head and I react with either bitterness or hatefulness, profanity or a number of articulate sentences meant to hurt the person who hurt me….and thus “it” (which I believe is instant karma) begins.
I respond…it hits a wall….the response exacerbates already tender emotions and I respond …. and as the volley is returned, it brings with it the memory of another “something” I reacted to which moves even deeper into my body damaging and disrupting everything in its path until, there just doesn’t seem to be any choice left other than removing the lid from a brand new container of cream cheese frosting….
Now that’s not exactly how it worked last night…last night I felt lonely, I felt frustrated because of the pandemic, I felt very sad that I will not be with my loves on Thursday and I felt intense anger that there are people out there too damn selfish to put on a mask to save someone else life.
I went down the dictionary rabbit hole this morning while I was trying to attach a label to a behavior I don’t particularly appreciate in myself. Curmudgeon was the word in my head and defined as…bad tempered and old…and what’s more, the female version is HAG! I don’t really think the shoe fits but..whatever!
I lived nearly all of my adult life in a rural area…on a gravel road in the country among the trees and the deer and rabbits. I grew up a city girl in a neighborhood with all of the utility and community advantages but with only a modicum of privacy. It took me a long while to appreciate the peace and silence living the timber life. Which morphed back to I can’t live another moment in this loneliness and inconvenience once the last daughter left home and I neared retirement.
So…the day we retired…we moved 4 hours away to a small town in another state to a neighborhood…to living amongst people…..and with this came a huge inconvenience.
I thought I was going to lose my mind in the last few months from raps on the door from political candidates, tree trimmers, roofers and now Medicare supplement insurance agents. After a particularly profane cerebral meltdown after two solicitors within 30 minutes, I bought “the sign”.
It’s not lost on me that many of these folks are just hoofing it for business…just trying to make a living…doing what it takes to survive…but it’s also a waste of their time to knock on my door because the answer will always be the same. NO! You don’t need to find me, I will find you….
I used to joke (ok…not really a joke) that the best way to eat chocolate (like those chocolate stars that used to be available in movie theaters but now may be bought in bulk from a buy-your-stuff-in-bulk-store) was to stuff my mouth full of that melty chocolate until it began to seep out of the corners. I now believe that this theory…while I still believe it to be true…was really just an analogy of the way I lived my life.
Everything was either really good or really bad and I did not have much desire to just float along. I either had to go full throttle to love it/fix it or ruminate. I either really liked someone or something and enveloped my whole being in that comfort or really disliked it/them and then was disappointed when life didn’t play out the way I could accept.
But with age, therapy and embracing spirituality rather than organized religion, I’m realizing that my years of angst had everything to do with my expectations and the stories in my head. Those stories on replay…those stories queued to play my favorite tune when I needed justification for my opinions or behavior. Once I had the “discipline” to stop, drop and roll, I loosened my grip on my need for black and white, hate and love, yes and no.
With every breath we have the ability to change the way we think. We don’t need to breathe in the very same air we just exhaled. We are not preprogrammed to pass or fail depending on what “happened to us” the last time we tried. Changing the way we think changes our life. It’s not how someone reacts to us, it is how we react to our own thinking.
I put my right foot in, right foot out but it took me awhile to turn my thinking around this morning. I did not watch back to back election coverage last night….in fact I watched an old goodie “As time Goes By” on Britbox. I wondered if I was the only one chuckling through the hours while fear and uncertainty was overwhelming the nation. THEN I reasoned with myself that I should just check Twitter before I went to sleep just so I would know.
Know what we have come to expect. A multitude of talking heads just talking and spewing like a grade school play ground….he said this, she said that….here’s what’s going to happen…no it is not. Nothing accomplished in my decision other than I was able to align myself with fear of the unknown and start down that well worn path of OMG how will we live through this if the right character isn’t leading our government.
What is mine to do? Where I see myself right now is living in the moment. This moment with a cat on my lap, drinking my coffee with the sunlight shining through the East window blinding me. Right this moment in my life am I ok? Not my thoughts and fears about the next moment and not my memories of the past…right this moment
Letting my emotions run wild with fear and anger over something I have no way of knowing or changing the outcome is useless. Right here and right now I must just experience this present moment knowing that the future moments will be lived and experienced as everything changes with each new breath.
on the phone this morning…..This is really the first time I can remember that I’ve lost control with a business on the phone. But I know it happens after 30 years as a 911 dispatcher.
This business was in charge of sending me medical supplies in June…I received them in August because they were shipped to a different person in a different city who happened to be different gender. A couple phone calls to their business office, I learned that I was wrong because their records showed that the supplies had been sent and received by me because their computer said so. I finally was able to make my case with someone with “service skills”.
But the story does not end there. They send me a bill but had not filed with my insurance….said they had…but my insurance company said nope, no they haven’t. 2 phone calls and 3 emails later, I gave up because their business office told me I was wrong because the computer said so. Ok. Whatever. I didn’t feel this was my problem anymore. I had my supplies, they didn’t have the money and I had kept documentation of correspondence.
Until the phone rang at 8am this OCTOBER morning from the company telling me they were having trouble filing my insurance because they had the wrong information for me.
My kind and professional demeanor moved to the back seat as I let loose unloading on “Tara” what I thought of the company, their lack of public service and my frustration level which seemed like she could probably figure out depending on what her computer told her. The anger just flowed very smoothly from my mouth to her ear and you know what…I felt better. I’m sure “Tara”, NOT wearing HER public service voice, did not go to work armed for rampage this morning. I remember how it felt to start my morning with a yeller, but my guilt is only about a 2 on a 10 scale. And so, I leave the frustration right here, right now, Dear Diary. I don’t need to carry it with me…
The emotional explosion which has been simmering on a level, I was not even aware of, occurred yesterday around 10:30 AM.
Woke up knowing it was the birthday of one of my best- friends-ever who transitioned in 2010. Felt the first tear on my cheek while searching for a couple of pictures of him to post on Facebook for my yearly birthday reminder to all that love him. We most often spent his birthday week at marching band festivals because he was the high school band director…but most importantly we usually spent some part of a couple these weeks in October with him camping and fly fishing.
In Chapter 6 in the the book Embracing Uncertainty, Susan Jeffers talks about her heros….including concentration camp survivor, Viktor Frankl and spiritual teacher and stroke survivor, Ram Dass. Again I thought of Brett…the person in my life who gave me the courage to just be me. Rev Erin, in her weekly message using the hero chapter in Jeffers book, took the story to a personal level for each of us. Sharing her life experiences with her own heros and encouraging us…the congregants… to become aware of the hero’s in our lives and recognize what we learned and what we honor in those heros. Finally using that wisdom in our own lives… absorbing it into our consciousness sharing it/them with the world.
And there it was. The finger was removed from the hole in the dam as I was able to finally experience the grief I have been feeling since becoming aware of the COVID 19 virus. The sadness I had been feeling all week. The sadness and anger I’m feeling about missing the usual activities of spring, summer and fall… missing my family, my children and grandchildren, not seeing friends….the loss of so many opportunities as well as the anger about the division in our country .. the fear I have felt off and on because of the incredible death and destruction in so many lives…
While this explosion of emotion was not pleasant at the time, I recognize the peace that came from experiencing it….letting it come…sitting with the pain in my heart until I was able to become silent.
I had one yesterday…My work schedule begins very early in the morning and I am blessed that I am able to work from my office/craft room in the basement…so grateful … so very grateful that I don’t have to be “out there”. But with this convenience AND inconvenience of the virus around the world comes restlessness. While eating lunch yesterday, I heard myself “shoulding”!
From my permanent self assigned seat in the living room, I watched the gentle movement of the leafless tree branches in the breeze. I knew the light breeze, the blue sky and the comforting temperature would lift my soul if I would only take that first step…off the couch and stepping out the door.
But I didn’t!
It seems to be where I am right now. Thoughts of my least favorite season’s rapid approach is freezing the joy right out of me. The politics of the US, my dedication to social distancing because of the virus and all of the other depressing stories I am telling myself are what is keeping me down. AND I KNOW THESE ARE ONLY ILLUSIONS BASED UPON THE PAST and not my life in this present moment. I know that I need to take that first step to pull myself out of my perception of what is ahead …. the winter doldrums.
So this morning I am envisioning my dear friends and family locking arms, moving forward in the street, the wind blowing our hair away from our faces as we throw our heads back and laugh at the pure joy in our hearts and the love we have for each other. We are enough…it is enough. We are all in this together…It feels better to feel the love and joy than the feeling of the dead of winter in my soul!