A Woman, An Anniversary, and A Gift with a Story to Tell

A good gift allows everyone to benefit.
Some gifts just keep on giving. I was the recipient of such a gift this weekend.

My husband took me shopping for a gift for our wedding anniversary. I had something chosen in mind before we left, but received something of much greater value.
Below is a picture of the gift he gave me- on the physical level. It is beautiful in its own right and speaks of our love.
On the spiritual level, the gift is much more profound.

necklace

What this gift gave me and what I hope to pass on to you is the faith and belief that you are always supported as you seek the Highest Good for yourself and everyone in your life.

I am familiar with AA through those I love, and something I have come to realize that AA does very well is it helps the participants embrace their changing lives on both the physical and spiritual levels.

Many internal changes, of course, happen within AA and similar groups. What is key, though, is that these changes are solidified and acknowledged physically by certain rituals. Participants receive coins, anniversary chips, etc. It may sound corny, but when you are undergoing a great deal of change, it can be difficult to feel confident.

You are not who you were before; yet your newly formed sense of self is a little shaky. Signs of support can make all the difference in you continuing on the path.

That is what this gift of the necklace did for me. The image of simple hearts has been in my art work for at least a year now. This year has been one of upheaval and disturbance as the old stories of my life have fallen away. Left in the wake of this dismantling has been the creation of time and space to reflect.

And there have been times, when I wanted to stop the process. In my weaker, more self-pitying moments, I did not think my personal growth was worth the price of confusion, tears, and quite honestly, work.

But that sense of love and heart never left me and I continued on my way.

The necklace with its simple heart spoke to me. It was the sign I needed that my personal work was supported.

And I wonder how many on their own personal journeys receive similar signs. I think we seek these signs on the subconscious level, so challenging can true personal growth be, we need some assurance that our internal work is integrated on the broader, external level.

I am here to tell you that it is, it is.

If you are in the midst of changing your life and becoming what your heart desires, please believe that you are supported. Take a moment and look for signs of support that you are being given. If you feel you can’t find any, ask and pray for one and then look again. It could be in the form of a perfect book, a quote that resonates, a powerful dream, a pattern of flowers, cloud shape in the sky- anything that may serve as a symbol to you.

Use it for motivation and strength. Like the person in AA who may carry the coin in his or her pocket as a reminder of his or her significant commitment to a better life, place your symbol near you physically or hold it within your heart- to remind you that you truly are worthy of change for the better.

How Cheese and Crackers Have Changed My Life

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Ever have the experience in which you are speaking about your life, relaying the oh, so “normal” tidbits, not thinking once, not thinking twice, about the information being relayed only to have another person point out, often gently, how strange it all may be?

At one time my therapist helped me realize how I become, what I now refer to as “Cheese and Cracker Kim”. In a session, I was merrily relating that I happily cook for my family almost every night, typical meat and potatoes fair. Because they really like and expect meat. Because I am a vegetarian, some nights I would just end up having cheese and crackers for dinner.

My therapist asked me, “How often does this happen?”

“Cheese and Cracker Kim” answered, “Oh, gosh, I don’t know, maybe 3 or 4 nights a week.” I think I said this a sense of happiness, because cheese and crackers were not the point of my story and I really wanted to move onto the “good” stuff- i.e. the really pressing problems as to why I was in therapy.

My therapist paused my ongoing diatribe to point out the symbolism of preparing meals for others while I basically made-do with crumbs.

I still did not see the point. I was “fine” and I was “especially fine” since everyone else was happy and well-fed.

“Cracker and Cheese Kim” was doing great!

Until recently.

Lately, I have experienced a great deal of awareness, change, and honestly, hope for treating myself better. I no longer see myself as someone satisfied with the crumbs while others eat to their fill.

So this is what has happened, “Cracker and Cheese Kim” has moved on and filled her plate but I am the only one, for now, at the new buffet.

The universe always provides opportunities to test our growth. Flex our new muscles, if you will, and add some strength and mass to our convictions. My life has shown me how I long for my plate to be filled- to be honored during my wedding anniversary, to have my husband’s family acknowledge me, to have my stepkids notice me (even if we are on vacation!).

All of these scenarios would have been met by “Cheese and Cracker Kim” with a grin, shrug, and “Gee Whiz, I don’t need a thing.”

Now I have needs, and into the awareness, a few gaps have appeared. It will take some time for others in my life to realize that I need to be filled also. There is a gap at present between what I need and what they have provided in the past. Let’s be honest, there was no gap in past, because “Cheese and Cracker Kim” had filled it all in for everyone.

I guess I am writing this, in case you are in a similar situation. Perhaps you have come to a new awareness. Perhaps you are stronger. And, perhaps like I did, you wonder why things have not immediately changed and why you are not feeling better.

It’s almost as if because we change we expect everyone around us to have undergone the same transformation. If they love you and are worth having you in their life, they will. The gap created by your growth will eventually be filled. Trust that your growth and the gaps it produces is actually presenting the space for the growth for others.

You don’t have to be a “Cheese and Cracker” person, when the buffet of life sits before you.

What if THIS is the Gift?

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What if THIS, whatever THIS may be for you, is the gift you have been seeking?

What if the current problem, situation, conundrum, difficulty, and/or issue you are currently trying to “fix” is really your ticket to a new way of being in this world?

What if wrapped up in the icky packaging of discontent, malaise, and/or confusion, you find inside all that you desired?

I wanted to gift of being loved. I have been given the gift of learning to love myself. How blessed am I?

When the Relationship Most Changed is the One with Yourself

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One woman left for a trip. Another woman returned.

I spent the past 12 days traveling with my husband, stepchildren, and his extended family throughout Florida. We were quite the group of 16 individuals. I went into this trip as “wife” and “stepmom” and received little support for either of those roles.
I was suddenly – “object”- within the lives of others. A handy traveling companion while the needs of my family were met by Disney and others.

And I realized something on this trip- Don’t ever stop growing and changing in order to serve the base needs of others.

In books of personal growth, you will often read that something along these lines – “as you work on yourself and change your life, your relationships will change”. This trip was living proof to me.

Normally, treated as I was, I would have shut down. My motto would have been “As long as everyone else is happy, I am o.k.”.
But not this time and not this trip. I fought for myself.

We can fool ourselves on our journey to self-awareness. So caught up we may be in the ideals of “love and light”. Living in the ideal, we lose sight of the real. We would all love to check out and live in simple spiritual truths. The bottom line is that we are physical beings and our place in this world matters.

I would have buried my own needs in order to “live in peace and harmony” with others. Heaven forbid, I ever make(?) someone feel bad or guilty for what they had done to me. But my growth is calling me to a different place- a place in which I love and value myself, and subsequently, a place in which I will stand up for myself.

I do not suppress this need to grow in this way any longer, in order to “spare” the feelings of others. I am never harsh or mean, but I am authentic when I now understand my own sense of well-being matters as much as everyone else’s.

On this trip, perhaps the relationship that changed the most was the one I have with myself.

Your Power to Change Your World Resides in Understanding what you “Own”

Growth

Growth

I have spent portions of my life dis-remembering the power I wield. I would attempt to change that I could not, while ignoring those items that were mine to carry.

So here I am- finally understanding the power granted to me. My power resides in ownership- and the rather simple question- “Is this Mine?” For if it is not mine, if it is the thoughts, the behaviors, or the actions of another, I truly, in the most esoteric sense, do not own these. Thus, they are not mine to change.

I am not saying that we can not influence one another. We most certainly can, but there exists a large difference between influencing another by leading through example and such, versus time and energy wasted on issues and behaviors that are truly under the ownership of another.

The opposite also holds true. No matter the thought, behavior, or action, I may have, if I am wise enough and brave enough to call them my “own”, power is awakened within me. When I am distant and claim “not mine”, I am power-less in the face of my own creations.

To “own” one’s life and one’s thoughts and actions is to express the yin and yang of power.
Yin- the saving grace in realizing I can not change what is created and owned by another.
Yang- within me is the power to transform any creation from me which I am willing to claim as mine.

The Power in Moving from Victim to Victor….

This weekend our dog was attacked by another dog. I was walking my dog at the time and I had him on a leash. The other dog escaped from his fenced area and attacked my dog from behind. At first, I thought my dog had escaped being wounded. Time would show me otherwise. Once I got him home and checked him out, I realized he was bleeding from a wound on his left side. (He is now healing very well 🙂 He is a yellow Lab. Is there any creature more loving and friendly? I think not.)

At this point, I decided to call the police. (Yes, we live in that small of a town. 🙂 ). It was also at this point that I made the completely unconscious decision to enter what I now refer to as “victim dissociation mode”. For those who have experienced trauma and abuse, the response is not that uncommon.

For me, the response involves responding, projecting, anticipating, controlling, and caring for everyone BUT myself and in this case- my injured dog. See, if you have experienced abuse, one way you learn to survive is to control everything you can, while at the same time, dissociating from yourself because the pain is too great.

So, on this day, I spent time worrying about the following: the police officers who had to handle a “dog issue”, which in my mind, I created the scenario that this was a nuisance in regards to their use of time. I was also worried that one officer seemed very quiet and perhaps I had upset him. I then worried about saying I wanted the owners of the dog to be ticketed, because, my goodness..what if they were unable to afford the ticket? Next, I spent time worrying that I needed to get my dog to the vet. The vet was closing at 2:00 and I could not get there until 2:00. Now, I had the guilt of making the vet stay late. (None of this was based on the vet’s response, by the way. This was ALL coming from me.) While at the vet, the police officers had a follow-up call for me and now I was upset this was taking up more of their day- on such a “small issue”. Again, they did not convey this to me, it was everything I was telling myself.

You may be asking, as I have begun to ask myself- where was my anger? My dog was attacked from behind! Where was my fear? Buried deep, deep inside. Where was my overwhelming concern for myself and what I witnessed? Nowhere to be found. What about my dog? I placed him in the same category as me- I felt I could “manage” his suffering and thus not be bothering anyone with my fearful concerns for him.

And that is what happens in victim mentality. You become numb to your own reality because it is “easier” and too frightening to confront what is actually happening- events of which you have NO control that are causing you pain. And so you let your mind fly away on fantasies and projections, worrying about others, when your utmost, number one concern should be yourself.

I learned something about myself on this day. I learned how much I STILL dissociate. I learned how, when I am unable to worry for myself, I distort and project my worries on to others. I learned that I desperately want to control and prevent bad things from happening, because I get all turned around in my mind and think the bad things that are happening are somehow my fault and if I were just smart enough, or good enough, I could stop them.

But, that is the “victim” part of this story. I also learned even in the midst of trauma I can be the victor. I took care of my dog. I got him to safety. I saw his wound and got him help. I protected others in the area by informing and then dealing with the police officers. I was smart enough to reach out to friends who helped me find a vet who was open on Saturday and willing to help me with my dog. And I got my dog to the vet in time and he is healing fine.

And unlike the victim stories that spew and churn in my mind, the above are the FACTS of what happened. I helped my dog, I protected him and myself, removed us from a dangerous situation and got us help. There is not one thing “victim-like” in those acts.

As victims, we can not control what is done to us (or has been done in the past). That is the “victim” portion of our lives. However, we can transform and transcend and not stay immersed in the energy of victimhood. We can emerge as the victor of our own lives.

A Woman Regains Her Balance

Heart Balanced

Heart Balanced

On this day, One Woman regained her balance and a Balanced Heart along the way.
For you see, she had worried and struggled and suffered under the strife of misplaced love. A lesson learned and it would not be lost.

She untangled her heart from the mess labeled “Love”, and made a choice for herself. She would love on her own terms, terms that supported her and the world to which she wanted to give so much.

She slowly opened up her heart and joined another in the union of Love. And this time, there was no taking, protecting, or hiding. Energy flowed in between hearts in balance.

And she thought to herself, this is how I want to create my world.

Those were her thoughts, and then her stepson saw the picture she had crafted of a world in love and he simply said, “To me, it looks like a dog bone of love, with hearts on the end.)

And this she could understand and thought that it was a great way to see a world in love.

Finding Love within the Life

I love the story of Penelope, wife of Odysseus. As Odysseus traveled and traveled and traveled some more, Penelope was at home, weaving. Each day she would weave and each night she would undo her weaving. This act was a protection against suitors. She had told them she would only be open to proposal when her weaving was completed.

However, as time went on, Penelope does become restless and perhaps desires to interact with her suitors, but she does not act on this desire. Such is life- we often have conflicting desires as we await the return of love.

I ask God what it would be like to un-weave our days. To let the day’s trials, pains, tribulations fall away as we dismantle the stitches, and begin anew each day. God answered, “This is the gift of hope- to see each day without the weavings of the past.”

Penelope’s Gift

Oh, God, grant me the
gift of Penelope

To weave and un-weave
life’s daily skeins

Penelope un-wove
during Odysseus’s
travels,
keeping suitors at bay

Her secret lay in heart
as all the best
whisperings do

The desire to throw
down the cloth
and dance-
in impetuous formation

Perhaps, if she were
to be admit,
to attract the
attention

She adamantly
protected against.

Such is the miracle of God.

We get the conflict of
desires-
weaving and
un-weaving
our days

awaiting the return of our lover.

Legacies…Handle with Care

In the wave pool at Mandalay Bay on vacation, I was so close to breaking down in tears. I do not know why. Perhaps it was the lifeguard having to correct me in where I was standing- I was to be on the sidewalk or fully in the water- not the ankle-deep level I had chosen for myself. The world spun off this simple comment, and I thought to myself, “I can’t do this anymore”.

Back on the beach- safely in the proper location- I thought of my mother. She suffered severe depression for a decade. She had contemplated suicide several times. My mom was eventually able to pull herself out of this depression, much to her credit. But, I will always remember that time and wonder about the legacies we all end up living.

Reading another’s blog this a.m. helped me to realize how much we can be pulling along, deep within ourselves. I have found the best way to handle such legacies is prayer and a willingness to explore the feelings and emotions attached. For me, it means looking at what it meant to be a child with someone wanting to kill themselves. How did this affect my level of trust? Also, surprisingly, my belief that I can “fix” it all. My mom often confided in me, and used me to help her with her depression. This lead to a false sense in me that everyone’s problems were mine to take on and that the solutions were within me.

I wonder about the legacies of others. Who is living now with a sense of unworthiness or unlikablity simply because someone tried to pass this on to him or her long ago? As I have gotten older, I realize how much help we may need as we deal with such legacies, and how much patience and love we must be willing to give ourselves.

Being Clean

At years 30, or was it 40?
My mother quit –
living and life

She took up residency
upon back, in bed
for a decade

Dark, except TV light

TV light is not
real light and
Depression is not
real living

We had moments,
holiday celebrations.

Other families have
crest and emblems,
We had motto, during the
depressive years-

“Life sucks, then you die”-

A stake through the heart of
Every greeting card claim

Blame was not as forthcoming,
as confusion,
What sets one’s living back?

She was saved by cleanliness.
Her mental faculties hinged upon
not making a mess.

Our home growing up
was a testament to this belief.
Later, it became her profession
in the home of others.

She told me suicide
was an option, except
it would leave a mess.

Unsure, was I,
to laugh or to cry
at how death may play
out our lives.

Some may see her,
Flat upon back, and think
Mid-life crisis-ing

I would think
“land of the living”
And
“we should not judge the trying.”