Fear and Mirrors

Sometimes things have to break completely before you can fix them. Life is funny that way. There is a cat that lives on the property, we call her Lucky. I guess she is lucky in a way. She has survived outside on her own for about twelve years, though that is just a guess on my part. I put a bowl of food out for her every night and I lived here for about six months before I ever caught a glimpse of her. Sometimes I wondered if she even existed before I saw her. She is a small, almost white cat with beige and brown markings on her paws, tail and ears. She is tiny, almost delicate like every other female in my man Shawn’s life. She is small but she has a fierce heart. She is a survivor. Every so often I sit with her while she eats and once in a while she lets me pet her and jumps on my lap for a cuddle. Lately, there has been a larger black cat that comes up to the deck to eat the food I set out for Lucky. I call him Spirit. God this black cat is fast! He fights with Lucky over the food and I don’t like that. I think he is a bit of a bully. I say he, even though I don’t know if the cat is male or female. Tonight he ran up the stairs and was across the deck and almost on top of Lucky before I moved and scared him off. I want to protect Lucky but I can’t be by her side all the time. So, I do what I can when I am present, though I am not sure if it helps. I am just the person that fills the silver metal bowl with cat food every night and most mornings before the sun comes up. I have my role to play and I do it with love most times.  Other times, there is more impatience and annoyance than love.

This reminds me that we all have our role to play. Sometimes it is the lead role and other times it is a small cameo. Regardless, the extent of the part we play in the world and others lives is not important, but the role itself big or small is of the utmost importance. It matters to the world and the people we interact with. Remember that. Your part matters. The world would not be the same without you.  The role we play in others lives, in my opinion, is one of the most important things in the world. People and our connections to them shape and change us all.  Lately, my interactions with others have made it quite clear to me that I need to make some changes.  Great more changes!  I had tea and lunch with a friend last week and she pointed out the number of changes that have taken place in my life in the last few years.  I was shocked by the amount even though I have lived, and in some ways thrived, through them.  I left my job, closed my business, wrestled with the illness and loss of the man I loved, sold my house, moved, started a new relationship, moved again and adopted a new circle of friends and family.  There are more changes but those are the most significant ones, and the ones I am willing to share with you.  My new life does not even closely resemble the life I had two years ago.  I sometimes feel as though I am adrift in a huge sea of change and am just waiting to spot land where I can once again feel the solidity of the earth under my feet.

Okay, back to people and fixing things.  I am no longer comfortable with the roles I have previously played.  The life I had disintegrated and while that was extremely difficult it has also given me the opportunity to create a new one and in essence, create a new me.  I have led a very self-centered life up to this point.  I am not proud of this and have been taking a good look at this aspect of my life.  I have also realized that I do like to have time for myself even though I enjoy having lots of people around and finding the balance between the two has been challenging.  In the last month, the universe has kindly provided me with many opportunities that have shone a bright light on my character and pointed out the parts I want to change.  I don’t think I have been a great friend, daughter, sister or partner.  So, I am looking at each of these relationships and the role I play.  If there is a problem with any of these relationships, I need to look at myself first.  The only thing all of these relationships has in common is me.  So sometimes your life needs to fall apart before you can fix it or turn it into something you are proud of.   You need to strip away all the extraneous bullshit of your personality (ego) before you can change it.  Love yourself and love others as unconditionally as you are able to do.  All the things about yourself that you don’t like are magnified in others.  Some say others provide us with a mirror,  I think it is more of a funhouse mirror at the fair that distorts and twists things so they don’t really show what is in front of them as they really are.  The ego is a tricky little thing!  The universe is tricky too and will present you with the same thing over and over in different ways until you are able to see it clearly.

I have come up with many reasons in the last six months that I am unable to write.  I don’t have time, I don’t have a space of my own that inspires me to write,  I have nothing to say, I cannot write about the people in my life because they are entitled to their privacy, and the list of excuses goes on and on.  The reality of it all is that I am afraid.  Afraid I will be judged, afraid that I will fail, afraid that I will succeed and afraid that people will see what lies beneath this facade that I try so hard to protect.  I am taking a big leap next week.  I am attending a writers conference in Orlando with my older sister Margaret.  One part of me is looking forward to the conference and another part of me is afraid. I have mentioned before that I have anxiety attacks.  One of the tricks I have learned in dealing with these anxiety attacks over the years is I ask myself what is the worst thing that can happen.  I spend a few minutes visualizing these worst-case scenarios then visualize ways to deal with them.  Things are never as bad as I imagine they could be, they are usually more wonderful than I ever thought possible.

So, next week will be my 55th birthday and I am off on an adventure with my sister and have no idea how things will turn out.  I am looking forward to spending some time alone with Margaret and sharing this experience with her.  One thing is for sure, there will be lots of laughter and a few glasses of wine in store for us.

 

Hug everyone
Look into the fun-house mirror without fear
xoxoxo
Donna

Advertisements

Two Years Later

I can’t sleep tonight and the need to write is strong. I have a feeling that this might be my last blog post on a Life in a Slightly Soiled Chair. There is a new blog taking shape in my heart and in my mind, but I am unable to describe it for you at the moment. This new chapter in my life and my writing is still taking shape and in all honesty, I don’t think I will know what it is until I start to write it. It has been exactly two years since Howard passed away and my world crumbled and I think this last post needs to be a letter to him but I have decided to share it with you. For some reason I think that if I put this out there, it will travel to all the corners of the universe and Howard will read it somewhere, somehow.

Hi Howard, it has been two years since you left this earth and sometimes it feels like yesterday and at other times it seems like centuries. I still miss you and think I always will. You know that I don’t remember dates for anything, all that well, but I think that my heart and body remember on a cellular level the moment that you left. I am not the same person, your life changed me and your death changed me again. I would not alter one moment of our life together, but I would trade everything to change the end of it for you. Oh yeah, I would like a redo on the day our house was raided and we were arrested, yup, I would change that. That was a crazy day and I am still convinced that they had the wrong house regardless of what the paperwork said. All they had to do was look at the dead plants on the deck to realize that I couldn’t grow a potted plant let alone a pot plant. We had the last laugh on that one, didn’t we!

I did plant a garden from seeds this year, but you already know that. This garden turned out much better than the year I decided to plant one in our backyard. Even the raven sitting on the pagoda laughed at my attempt to garden. I remember that you came out of the shop and asked, “Did that raven just laugh at you?” I managed to keep most of this one alive, with some help, and have had some wonderful meals with the vegetables from it. You remember how much I love bok choy? Well, apparently the deer love it more because I did not get to eat any of it. I did have an abundance of radishes. Deer do not eat radishes. Who knew? I tried to feed some to the cow Oatsie, but she didn’t want them either. Note to self, do not plant that many radishes ever again.

Yesterday I was in a friends store and saw some spirit bells. I was fascinated with these bells and took one home with me. I just could not keep this bell out of my hands and jiggled it around the whole time I was in the store. After I got home I remembered that in the last few weeks of your life you said you would ring bells. I gave you a bell beside your bed when you couldn’t get up by yourself so if you needed me I would hear it. Did you know that I slept with that bell beside my bed for months after you passed away waiting for you to ring it? I had a dream last night that I woke up and it was the exact moment that you passed away. All those emotions rose up in me like a huge wave threatening to drown me and you in spirit form kissed my head and told me it was okay. You also said a few other things and I went back to sleep feeling peaceful and loved.

I miss talking to you and sometimes have conversations with you in my head. I would talk to you out loud, but people already think I’m a little odd. Once in a while, I feel your presence and an image of you pops into my head. You always have a huge smile on your face and that light in your eyes that you always had when you were up to something. I loved that face. I keep thinking about your hands for some reason. They were large sturdy hands that were always covered in cuts and scrapes. Your hands were always busy sculpting, fixing, welding, weeding, cooking or petting a dog. Those large calloused hands were also gentle and I don’t think I ever felt safe in my life until you held my face in your hands and kissed me. I don’t think I ever felt safe or loved in my life until I met you.

There are so many things I want to tell you. I also believe that you already know everything that is in my heart. There is a space in my heart that will never be filled. One thing you did teach me is that our hearts are big and I can keep that space for you and still have enough room for other people. I took a risk last year and have someone new in my life. He too is teaching me much about love and life. He challenges me sometimes, makes me laugh constantly and encourages me to try new things and grow. We have a great group of friends and get together regularly at the pub or in our kitchen, which is filled with food, love and laughter. We both believe that you set the stage for us to get together when you sold him my raven sculpture. I remember how excited you were with the trade the two of you made. He also has a big heart and since the two of you were friends there is a place in his heart for you as well. We have the first sculpture you made called Victorious ( I affectionately call her Booba) and the last one you finished, the rhino, in our yard. The raven you sold him sits on top of the gatepost at the end of the driveway and when I moved in we put the second raven that you made for me on the other gatepost. I always think of them and you watching over us and protecting us. We also have the gorilla sculpture peering out of the bamboo. That was my favorite of all your sculptures even though I teased you about becoming a gorilla while you were creating it.

I want you to know that I am happy in my new life. Shawn and I are having many adventures together and in some way take a part of you with us on each of them. We took your toolbox with us when we went to Bonneville this year and God knows we could have used your mechanical skills while we were there. The racing did not go as well as expected. It was still an amazing trip though because of the people we met and old friends we got to see again. That is the most important thing anyway, the people in our lives. I am so glad that I got to be part of your life and hope I brought some joy and laughter to yours. I do know that some of my crazy antics brought some comic relief and I can still see you looking at me and shaking your head with that what am I going to do with her expression on your face. We had a few hard times and we had many more great times. Howard, you were an amazing man and the thing that amazed me the most was that you loved me. You loved me so much that I can still feel it.

Love the people in your life
Hug each other and laugh over the stupid stuff
Donna

Grief Part 682

I will start this post by saying that I am no expert when it comes to grief. I have danced with grief a number of times from a young age to today, at 54 years of age. I say dance with it because grief has a rhythm to it that moves you. I have experienced the death of two grandparents, a number of friends, my baby girl, both my parents, my older brother and finally the man I loved and lived with for twelve years. Each experience was different and each person’s death brought about a change within me. Howard’s passing happened Sept 15th, 2015 and I have to say that his presence in my life and his exit from it has changed me in ways no other experience has. Howard’s life and death had a profound effect on me and in some ways I am still discovering what those are. I will tell you that the grief never ends but it changes over time and becomes more of a slow heart warming waltz instead of a heart racing paso doble that spins you around and shakes your world. Grief changes you and grief changes.

I am one of those people who cries when I am happy and laughs when I am sad. This is not to say that I do not cry when I am sad. Howard’s death brought me to my knees, but I did not cry, I wailed a deep soul shattering sob that robbed me of breath and thought. I would cry myself to sleep at night and when I woke up in the morning for just a moment I would forget that he was gone and then the sobbing would begin as reality came into focus again. I cried at the grocery store, I sobbed in my car and had to leave a few places, (the bank for one) when my emotions overtook me. I wouldn’t change a minute of the grief. It was heartbreaking but it was also heart opening. I do not see the world in the same way, my vision is clearer because I see with my heart, not my eyes. So a year and a half later something will catch me by surprise and the loss of him will overwhelm me. I was visiting the hair salon that I frequent a few weeks ago and a song came on the radio there that had special meaning to me and Howard and the tears started flowing. This is a song by Shawn Mendes called “Never Be Alone” and here are some of the lyrics:

I promise that one day I’ll be around
I’ll keep you safe
I’ll keep you sound
Right now it’s pretty crazy
And I don’t know how to stop
Or slow it down
Hey
I know there are some things we need to talk about
And I can’t stay
Just let me hold you for a little longer now
Take a piece of my heart
And make it all your own
So when we are apart
You’ll never be alone
You’ll never be alone
You’ll never be alone
When you miss me close your eyes
I may be far but never gone
When you fall asleep tonight
Just remember that we lay under the same stars
And hey
I know there are some things we need to talk about
And I can’t stay
Just let me hold you for a little longer now

Howard passed this song on to me through a friend who is a medium. This happened while he was still alive but could not talk much. He did manage to say a lot to my friend in spirit while he was still alive even though they did not really know each other well. He chose his words sparingly at this point and did not waste his energy. Well, I played the song as Howard lay in his bed in our living room, while a few friends were visiting, Howard had his eyes closed with a big smile on his face and his toes were dancing to the music while the rest of us had tears streaming down our faces. After Howard was gone every time I started my car (for a few weeks) this song would be on the radio, it was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. It made me cry and reminded me that I am never alone.

So, here I am early in the morning finishing a post that I started over 4 months ago. I want you to know that I still miss him and think about him every day. I also want you to know that some days I still struggle to find my place in this new life I have created. Sometimes I still struggle. Howard’s artwork graces the yard and walls of the new home I share with Shawn the new amazing man in my life. He has brought much joy and laughter to my life. He loves me, he challenges me and encourages me to dream and grow. But, grief is a funny thing and I don’t think it ever goes away or is something you can overcome. I believe that it is always there, always a part of you. Grief changes you and grief changes you again, but your dance with it also changes the grief.
Now, it is not so much about the loss of Howard in my life, but the end of the life that Howard had cut short when he was just beginning to blossom as an artist and had found something he was so passionate about.

I believe that I have a difficult time finishing this post simply because there is no end to this story. Nor can I sum it all up and leave you with a something to think about. This is just a snapshot of day 682 of grief.

Be kind
Love ya
Donna

Look for the Signs

Okay this is ridiculous, for the fourth morning in a row and I am getting out of bed at 4:44 am on the dot. Alfred Hitchcock also popped into my mind again just before I got up. What the hell is going on?

Shawn’s Dad, we call him Pops, has been visiting for the last few months. He had a farm in Saskatchewan and raised 100 head of cattle. We also have a Scottish Highland cow named Oatsie here, who is more like a pet at this point. Oatsie is 17 years old and an escape artist. Now picture a 1500 pound cow with horns about five feet wide with long hair and huge eyes. The other day we were moving some equipment and had the gate open and Pops was watching the gate. The next thing you know Oatsie is heading down the driveway, she just sailed right by Pops. Everyone was laughing cause this huge cow snuck right past the former cattle farmer kicking up her heels as she went. One of the guys enticed her back in with a bucket of grain and the drama was over. We live right next to the highway so keeping her behind the fence is important. Never a dull day here!

Okay lets go back to Alfred Hitchcock. I have told this story before, so for those who have read it you can skip this paragraph. My friend Debra is a wonderfully funny warm woman who happens to also be a medium. We were talking on the phone one evening and Alfred Hitchcock appeared to her on the ceiling of her living room. I said something like, ooh what does Alfred have to say to you. She started laughing and said he wants to talk to you not me. He said I need to keep writing, but I need to make stuff up. He had a bit more than that to say but I cannot remember what it was. I have not written much since and I am laughing as I type this. So now I am waking up at 4:44 every morning and Alfred Hitchcock keeps popping into my head. I am also writing once again. Thanks Alfred now let me get some sleep.

I have some intuitive abilities myself and have been able to see and get information from people who have passed away, but I would not consider myself a medium in any way shape or form. My information comes more frequently from the animal kingdom and the unusual number of coincidences that happen in my life on a daily basis. I stopped by a friends store the other day and when I went outside to get something from my car there was an SUV parked right in front of the store. On the back window was business information and the name of her business. I also write blog articles under the name Miss Daisy, which happens to be Shawn’s nickname for me. I still don’t understand why he calls me this. So the sign in her window says Driving Miss Daisy in big green letters. We had just watched the last half of the movie with the same name the night before.  I also pulled an oracle or tarot card while I was at my friends shop and the card had a picture of a woman surrounded by butterflies and halos of colour with a gold light seeming to extend from her third eye area into the heavens and said the word wants to be written. I went to a tile store yesterday and ran into a woman who worked there.  We have never met before but when I asked her what her name was she said Kristey and asked if I was Donna.  I thought perhaps my friend who recommended this tile store told her I was coming in but it just so happens we are friends on Facebook and she reads this blog.  The universe is constantly trying to get our attention and send us messages we just have to pay attention. Some may say that these things have no meaning and that is okay.  But, they have meaning for me.

There seems to be an increase in the number of people seeing triple numbers constantly on licence plates, the clock, sales receipts etc etc.  In fact there are entire websites devoted to the interpretation of these numbers.  Some call them angel numbers while others call it numerology.  To me it doesn’t matter what you call it and for some reason when they call them angel numbers it makes me snort silently in my head.  So I looked up the number 444 and read about it as pure numerology and the angel number interpretation.  They all basically say the same thing with or without the angels.  I will use the term universe instead.  The universe is sending a sign that all is well and the universe is supporting you on this journey in any way possible and to continue to work on your goals and those things you are passionate about.  You are on the right path you just have to trust in the process.

Do any of you see repeating patterns whether it is words, numbers, animals or symbols?Drop me a note and let me know what this means for you!  In the meantime,  I have a few fictional stories running through my head so I will try to make some stuff up as Mr Hitchcock suggested.  The characters in these stories are calling out for my attention.  Who knows,  perhaps I will write a book or a few short stories.

Hope you all have a wonder filled day
Look for the signs!!!

Donna

Shaped by the Past, Sculpted by Dreams

I have been awake at 4:44 am for the last three mornings. I am not sure why, and this morning I was having a dream about Alfred Hitchcock which will make my friend Debra laugh. So, I decided to sit and write while the coffee is brewing and see what comes up. I think about things a lot, my mind never seems to stop unless I sit and meditate and lately even that is difficult. I have this unsettled feeling swirling around inside me and I cannot explain it. It is almost as if I am waiting for something to happen and feel like my life has been in a holding pattern for a long time. Weird huh? I you have any insight into this please let me know.

One thing that has been on my mind lately is my childhood. Most likely because my sister is writing a book and we have been discussing some of these things lately. My sister and I are 13 years apart in age (she is older) and had completely different lives growing up. Her father was an angry abusive man and mine was the gentlest of souls who rarely got angry. Our mother met my father after her first husband was killed in an accident. It amazes me that four children in the same family can be so different and have such varied responses to life events and their memories of them. It makes me wonder how reliable my memory of events actually is.

Growing up in a family filled with alcoholism and all the dysfunction that comes with it teaches you some things. It teaches you to not take responsibility for your own actions. Someone else is the cause of your anger, your need to drink, your inability to get ahead in life etc. etc. It teaches you to keep secrets. God forbid if anyone every found out what really goes on in your home or your head. They would turn away from you in disgust, wouldn’t they? One of the biggest things it teaches you is fear and mistrust. When you cannot trust your own family how could you trust others? When you live in a constant state of fear it takes a toll on you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You are always living in anticipation of the next drunken tirade that is filled with discord and abuse, in some cases physical and in some cases emotional and in a lot of cases both. Not pretty is it? I remember phoning home everyday from school to ask my mother if she needed anything from the store just so I could check her tone of voice to see if she was drinking. If she was sober I would go home, if she was drinking I would go somewhere else. This is the only world I knew and alcohol was destined to play a large role in the rest of my life. I was enrolled in Life Skills 101 with an alcohol fueled instructors. I was taught to think and navigate life like an alcoholic. All I wanted was to be loved and spent many years looking for that in all the wrong places. I didn’t understand that I needed to love myself before I could offer it to or receive it from another person.

In my thirties I found myself drinking a lot and married to someone who drank enough that his work forced him into a rehab program. The alcohol saga continued, but it was a familiar one and I knew it well. Funny thing though, I ended up walking through the doors of AA in 1992 and my life was changed forever. It was in those church basement meetings that I was taught the healthy life skills that I was not taught growing up. It did not happen over night because my conditioning was firmly entrenched and they were asking me to feel my emotions and take responsibility for myself, both of which I had no idea how to do. I discovered that I only had two emotions, or states of being, angry or not angry. I sometimes still revert to anger in extremely stressful situations. However, anger is not all bad and boy oh boy can I get some housework done when I am trying to get rid of some anger in a healthy way. I have made a lot of discoveries about anger since then and that emotion is rarely caused by someone else or their actions.

It has been over 20 years since I started this journey of healing. I have learned a few things that have improved my life and me as a person. I still have much to learn, but look forward to it. It is impossible to know yourself with out understanding what made you who you are. One thing is for sure, you always have choices regardless of your life circumstance. Sometimes you may feel like you don’t have any choices but you do. You choose whether you are hardened or softened by your experiences. You can also make new choices every day. You and you alone are responsible for the person you are today. Your life experiences began to mold you, but you are like an artist finishing the beautiful sculpture that is you.

I guess I have rambled a bit, though that is not unusual for me. I understand my mother and what caused her to be who she was. I also want you to know that every time I think about her with love and forgiveness her spirit becomes lighter and brighter. The people who were in our lives and have passed on are aware of our feelings and the repercussions of their actions when they walked this earth. We get to choose whether we will hang on to the anger, bitterness, or whatever else we are feeling. There is freedom in fully accepting responsibility for who you are. You can let the past shape your future if you want. Sculpt yourself, paint yourself, sing yourself or write yourself a new future based on who you want to be, not what has happened to you.

Treat others with kindness and compassion
Hug yourself for me

Donna

The Salt

I love old things, and older people for that matter.  I thoroughly enjoy listening to the stories that my elders tell of times gone by and their experiences. I love their wrinkled faces that give physical evidence of the life they have lived.  My favourite is eyes all crinkled from laughter, smiles and sunshine.  I also enjoy the stories that antique items tell in their own rusty and timeworn way.  I have a slight addiction to antique fire extinguishers for some reason and also to old cars.  The picture above is me and my little shadow Georgia (if great danes can be called little) at 7 in the morning after we unloaded my 31 Model A from the trailer that delivered it late at night.  I think I threw a hoody on over my pyjamas and ran outside to look at it and placed my hands on it.  I put my hands on a lot of things to feel the energy of them and in some ways I think that the items become a part of me, as if I can absorb their history through my hands. If that truck could talk!

The Model A arrived not too long after we returned from our trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the land speed races.  I had never been to the salt flats before and had no idea what to expect.  The salt flats are a short drive from the lights, sounds, and throngs of people at the casinos in Nevada to a  white covered world that reminded me of the moon.  There are no animals, plants or insects on the salt, at least none that you can see. It is barren and beautiful and if you ever get the chance to visit during the summer I highly recommend it.  In the winter the salt is covered in water and looks like a large lake. In the summer it transforms into a white wonderland that draws racers from all over the world hoping to break land speed records.  This area is so flat that you can sometimes see the curvature of the earth as you look across the salt to the distant mountains.

img_0665
Donna at the starting line with one of the race cars
img_0746
Panorama shot of the Bonneville Salt Flats

There is something about this place that seems to become part of your blood and the people who frequent the salt call it salt fever.  I am not normally an overly emotional person, but the day we said our goodbyes to the people we met and the place itself I cried like a baby.  I did not want to leave.  For anyone who has been there they know that my words only scratch the surface of what goes on here. There is a bonding that happens with the salt and the people.  Everyone is friendly and helpful and there does not seem to be much of that us and them attitude that is part of most car gatherings and races.  People are just as excited to see the rusty old cars that don’t look like they could run let alone be driven hundreds, if not thousands, of miles as they are to see the race cars that people have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into for the chance to race.  There were speed records broken, dreams dashed, friends made and old friends reunited in a place that calls you back time and time again.

My guy has been going there for years as a race spectator.  Some years he drives from Vancouver Island to Wendover, Utah only to discover that the races have been cancelled because the conditions on the salt are not suitable.  One year it was still covered in water and on another year it was just a big mud pit. I am so thankful that the conditions were perfect for my introduction to the Salt Flats. In 2017 we will be there again but this time my guy Shawn will be behind the wheel of his own 1955 Studebaker racing across the salt in search of the speed record in his class.  I will have my ear on the radio so I can hear his speed called out for the mile markers over the noise of the engines at the start line.  I can’t be in the race car with him as he flies across the salt but my heart will be.  I have a feeling that the salt from my happy tears will hit the ground and i will also become part of that place forever.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Love you all

Donna