Every now and then I get a glimmer of how this whole life thing works when fear is released and I am able to experience the one precious moment…….right here and right now.
I have a history of making myself miserable in thinking and in action taking care of everyone. I have caused myself a lot of work and grief and resentment ….. with the best intentions, obviously…but living blindly thinking I know what is best for my friends and family and then proceeding to do everything in my power to see it through to be sure everyone is happy. I know this is a learned behavior from my childhood…if someone is unhappy, hurt or angry, I feel the need to make it ok…..it’s exhausting!
Being human, I still often think I know best. It’s those moments when something unexpectedly just work out and I have not had an opinion, judgement, fear or hand in it, that I realize this is how it works. It’s not easy to release control when fear is served up frequently. Digesting fear and reacting from fear gives the illusion that somehow I actually have control. Nope, nope, nope.
Staying in the moment. Not reacting from judgements of the past. Not spinning the dial to figure out the next move for the future. Quite the contrary… just stopping and feeling the right now. Centering with 5 things I hear, 5 things I see, 5 things I feel. Right now…being in the present…where this is no fear of the next minute and no history to react from.
No planning, no commitment to do better, no promise to stay in the moment…just being aware when my small self starts thinking and planning and judging. That’s the moment it’s possible to just stop and center!
A Facebook post by my friend, Tami, woke me up this morning. She is “healing” from back to back years of family deaths including her husband who was her soul mate, her love and Half of Her. Over the last few years she has included her authentic healing thoughts and fears and anger through her blogs and to and with her friends. This morning she posted the song, Dirt Road Anthem by Jason Aldean. It wasn’t a song I knew even though I think it is a decade old. But to make a long story shorter, I YouTubed it and these two lines stuck out to me:
“Memory Lane up in the headlights. It got me reminiscing on the good times”
I have meaningful loving experiences on a day to day basis. Often when I take a memory photo of my experiences, I feel like I am one of the luckiest people I know in spite of the hardships and the mental fears of the future that I continually give energy to as I go into battle with them. But I often look back at my younger years…say my early 20’s or 40’s and have wistful longings for the good ole days.
…..and I know I’m not the only person who lives a good bit of life in my memories….including the hateful ones I have not yet healed from. Tami’s post hit a trigger nerve and brought clear realization that I love to think about those good times but when I have a negative memory pop in, I often immediately go to anger and hatefulness and then realize I’m doing it again and Force myself to STOP thinking about it…but, maybe the answer is to just sit with the emotion for a few moments. (Not the story but how it made me feel). Perhaps then I can mute the trigger.
The good memories…let them come, I love to smile and laugh and remember those who made me feel love and joy!
Why do I think everyone else’s life is better than my own?
I know that these thoughts usually only settle in when I am feeling irritable without a cause or irritable with a cause. So…irritable.
Or when I’m feeling sorry for myself…without a cause or with a cause.
Or when I have committed or not committed to do something in the future that I am often unable to follow through when the moment is now. Actually this particular situation has taken care of itself, for the most part, because I am learning the lesson of NO.. just say NO because it is not something I want to do at this time. Often after I have said NO….I feel very empowered. Standing up for myself…even if I can’t respond immediately because in the moment I don’t know if it’s a yes or no, I do understand that in the next second I may have an answer. I’ve accepted that I have quite a vocabulary and a mouth and I know how to use them.
Often when I’m driving in a new neighborhood, city, state, country – especially on a vacation – I think..ya..I like this area, I could live here or No…I don’t even want to eat ice cream here. Those memories seem to live in my consciousness so I can pull them out when I’m feeling irritable, sorry for myself, put upon, not appreciated. I USE THEM to compare my present moment with the illusion of the moment in my memory. It’s hard to remember the difference between fantasy and what I’m experiencing in the present.
But then…I can find myself when I’m sitting in solitary on the deck watching the water ripple on the pond, see the gentleness of the geese skimming across the water, an occasional ruffled feather, hear the birds tweeting in the wren house above my head, feeling the sun on my skin…reality sinks in and I know that I wouldn’t trade THIS or my life for anything. Which has me questioning sentence number 1 above:
Why do I think everyone else’s life is better than my own.
From an early age (childhood) I learned that I had responsibilities. Not for just cleaning out the dishwasher but to rinse the dirty dishes, load the dishwasher “correctly”, run the dishwasher, empty it and begin again. This duty was not totally my responsibility but a metaphor for my childhood. From an early age, I felt responsible for my mother’s happiness and if pledge and dusting the living room furniture every other day was what kept her mental health intact then that’s what I needed to do.
Fast forward 6 decades. I’m very responsible. I do what needs to be done. I people please. I consider myself an empath and wear other peoples moods and emotions under my own clothes. This is a curse or a gift depending on how I experience it in my life.
A coffee date with a couple of girlfriends (who are like my Siri navigation giving me options of which route to take) reminded me that I need to set boundaries. I need to listen within to navigate what is mine to do. What brings me joy and contentment? What causes me to want to run fast toward or away from experiences….and the best advice….to seek answers from my inner guides before I close my eyes to sleep. So many life decisions are made as we slumber, when the ego is asleep and the deep inner soul has peace and quiet to figure it out.
Searching for a recipe, I realized that today was as good as any to make a stab at organization. I have a tendency to pull out a recipe, make the dish and stuff the recipe back in the box in the front or back ignoring the TABS WITH THE CATEGORY written on them. It is apparently a difficult concept for my embarrassingly lack of detail for the small things in my life!
Today I have committed to transferring recipes in that pile in the top left onto recipe cards.
While I started out dreading this process, pretty soon I was reading recipes to him and telling him from memory where I got it or the first time I made it. Like a dessert with chocolate I made the first time I cooked for him in 1978 before I knew he didn’t like chocolate (I married him anyway). But todays blessing for me was remembering the givers of the recipes…family and friends…many not with me anymore….but the memory of the breakfast casserole from Mary or Aunt Frances’ radish dip, my mom’s scalloped oysters and Jane’s grape salad brought them so close I could hear and feel them.
Someday I anticipate my daughters going through my recipe box saying OH GOD REMEMBER WHEN MOM MADE THIS or more gently with a tear, oh god, remember when mom made this. Our memories come back to us in many ways…I cherish the ones that I remember as a tear slides down my cheek!
Recognizing the emotion. I remember myself and my history as having 3 recognizable emotions and I knew what to do with them…Sob/cry, let it all out laugh, and that feeling in my forehead of rage which I would not normally let out. Everything else (the initial build up) just felt like discomfort…and most of the time I was able to distract myself from that feeling by eating…yes eating….that always felt good….
It wasn’t until I learned and started applying “new thought” “Unity” principles to change the way I think that I began to notice the uneasiness that normally preceded one of the described emotions. The little tickle of laughter as I began to smile was easy because I could belt out a loud laugh that could be heard round the world (it used to embarrass me because it was loud). Second came recognizing the irritation and anger….that was also easy because I carried it around so often and for so long before it burst….but the uneasiness that would make me cry…that was different.
The uneasiness of violence (perhaps because of my mother and the yardstick), witnessing sadness in my beloveds and the world, witnessing murder and death of animals (this is actually the most difficult for me). This uneasiness I felt this morning watching the geese on the frozen pond and thinking…just stop….it’s time to go where it’s warmer…why won’t you go?
It brought that feeling of fear, uncertainty, grief, this doesn’t feel right to my heart. I snapped this picture, stepped back and was grateful that I was actually able to identify the feeling/emotion so that I could stand with it a moment and release it rather than letting it be the first block in the tower of emotional blocks that could/would stack up in my day until I burst free with sobbing, laughing or screaming about something that had nothing to do with anything!
If you are doing the work…working through habits and emotions…you are not alone….sometimes feelings hurt but ignoring them does not make them go away. Eventually they burst forward!
Sitting on the couch this morning, I “felt” a small tremor….like when several cats on a mission jumps off the back of the couch or someone drops a heavy object in another part of the house or like when dynamite detonates at one of the two nearby quarries…..I sat for a moment waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop…and it didn’t…no truck running into the house, no apparent earthquake …all seemed to be well in the moment.
Which lead me to >>>>just another lesson in fear….as I waited for the thinking and worry to start “omg what was that” to mess up my Friday morning, …my thoughts were on high alert….what might happen, what might that have been, should I check Facebook to see if anyone is talking about it. I could have lost a whole second, minute, hour or day by allowing my mind to go totally unsupervised with all the possibilities that are “possible”……you know….with some imaginary event that has just not happened yet! This minor or probable catastrophic event that will change my life, make me sad, irritate me, scare me to death or cause me great hardship.
I am becoming aware that all the things I plan for or try to get in front of never happen…every day I go through life stepping over mole hills that never turn into mountains. Putting my nervous systems….all body systems…..on high alert….ready for the saber tooth tiger.
How many times do I have to jolt myself back to reality…back to JUST STOP! Just breath! Just change your thoughts with a hard stop and recalculate like the GPS on your phone. Logic tells me that by practicing this new way of just accepting what is actually happening without drama or color, it will become easier to navigate daily experiences with my body relaxed and my mind at peace!
A girlfriend from my early 20’s posted this on Facebook this morning.
As I was responding to her, I was thinking about friendships. Today is the birthday of a friend who no longer circulates with me in the physical world because he passed on 11 years ago. He’s the kind of friend that still visits with me often in my thoughts. I often wish I could “gossip” about something with him or hear his “oh gurl” one more time but I understand how lucky I am that so many things in my present life call him forward in my mind and I know he will always be with me .
I used to have a poster in my “teenage Nina” room that had a picture of a butterfly on it and the words were “if you love something set it free, if it was yours it will return and gently land on your shoulder”. That was my anthem for teenage boyfriends and crushes. It may have been a quasi spiritual knowing even back then….
I dreamed last night about a good friend who moved away. I woke up recognizing that this is what life is about. All of the important personalities moving in and out of my life when my soul needs a charge. I have a tendency to hold onto people. If you’ve been my friend, chances are You will never be free of me…I very seldom burn bridges. But life happens and we move around just as we are supposed to….and then there is that blessed, surprise contact you receive. It feels so good…often I long for everything to go back to the way it was…but the relationship of the souls has changed…we are still grounded in a history of love and trust but it is just different. I’m learning to accept the difference and embrace these dear souls in my life without expectations. The connection is strong, it’s how we choose to engage right here and right now that makes the difference.
I had a blessed visit this morning with my dad…..it manifested with steepled fingers. Elbows on the arms of the chair with all 5 hand digits touching each other only connecting at the finger pads. It’s one of those memories of seeing my dad sitting in his recliner with his head back with his hands touching in the steepled finger position. The very last time I saw my dad was from the door of his hospital room shortly before his transition, laying in bed with fingers in the steepled position occasionally moving his hands as if having a conversation with someone I could not see.
This morning during the Daily Word and meditation portion of our Unity Service with my eyes closed I felt tears beginning to trickle from the outer corners of my closed eyes and my attention was drawn to the fact that my elbows were resting on the arms of the chair and my 5 finger pads on each hand were touching in a steeple position and I knew that my dad was close by. I wondered why the visit!
The energy of my dad visits often when I am open to his guidance or I am in a moment when I recognize I’m feeling lost or lonely and need some love. It’s not that I actually reach out or seek his connection, it’s that he just appears in my vulnerable heart. I am learning to allow the embrace, allow the connection, recognizing that his presence is here with me always and most importantly understanding that his presence is as real as if he were looking at me across the room from his recliner in his physical form.
I don’t like where I live right now. For the most part I didn’t like where I lived before I moved here. There is an important unveiling happening in my soul as I put together this information this morning.
On a trip back to old home last week I was healed. There was comfort. I went to a concert in a beautiful outdoor setting beside a cornfield in Iowa. The venue is a local winery. The local cover band, Slipstream (that we have been following for many years) ALWAYS raises my spirits…with a mixture of their talent, the music they play and the energy they offer their audience to soak in. This time was especially perfect because I was surrounded by 3 of the 4 girlfriends who have been the love and emotional “tag team” in my life.
Returning to the place I now call home was kind of a downer…well, and a mild hangover from wine and pure joy. After a good night of sleep I woke this morning with a neon light flashing…ok…I get it….
It’s not the place I store my stuff, buy my groceries and pay my utility bills that is the real me. It is all in my heart where I feel my pain/dissatisfaction or love and joy…it’s the place in my soul where I release my expectations and irritations. It’s in me, it surrounds me, it is me just being. It’s not “adopting” the hatred, meanness and dysfunction. It’s recognizing what I don’t want to own and allow it to pass through…it’s all up to me to keep an open heart and release those fears and expectations of my personality which I have learned so well in 6 decades. I am here, I am free, I am.