Forgiveness and Freedom

I have been having a lot of conversations about the past and the events and people that shape us.  These life events and the people in our past can have a huge and lingering effect on our lives and how we react and respond to the world.  I don’t think we should shut the door on the past, but I don’t think we should spend so much time there that we miss the wonder of what is right in front of us now.  Yes, these things have shaped us and left scars on our souls in some cases. I am telling you it is nothing you cannot overcome if you choose to. You have already survived it, haven’t you?  We are responsible for ourselves and our actions.

Grief, childhood trauma, hell just trauma in general, disappointments and betrayal,  all these things can make you feel isolated and so alone in this huge world.  No one seems to understand.  Or do they?  I don’t think there is anyone I know that has not been through some major traumatic event in their life.  We isolate ourselves with our pain and our anger.  Trapped within a vortex of emotion swirling around us like a tornado it can be difficult to not feel helpless.  True we are helpless in the sense that we have no control how others will act or respond but do we want to live the rest of our lives based on how others have acted.

When you decide that what you have been doing is not working and take a good long look at  yourself, you will realize how much power you actually have.  For example, someone in your life has wronged you in a large way.  You now have some choices. There is nothing wrong with getting angry but if you continue to live from that space it will bite your little butt!  So you are angry, now forgive. Just forgive.  Forgive them and forgive yourself.  Sounds simple and it is even though we make it so complicated.  I think people have attached all kinds of things to the word forgive.  One of the on line dictionaries describes the meaning of the word forgive as “excuse, condone, pardon, forgive meaning to exact neither punishment nor redress. excuse may refer to specific acts especially in social or conventional situations or the person responsible for these.”  Another describes it as “to stop blaming or being angry with someone for something that person has done, or not punish them for something they have done.”  For myself, forgiving someone is something like this;  I acknowledge their action and the pain it has caused me then I simply let it go. I do not seek revenge.  I do not hold it over their head.  Now I don’t want you to think that this is instantaneous.  Sometimes it is, but for larger transgressions it can take a little bit of time.  It takes me a while to process or work through some things.  Some things are so large that in the process of forgiving the other person I end whatever relationship I had with them.  Sometimes in order to let go you have to let go of the person as well.

I was abused by a neighbour as a child.  This was a traumatic experience for sure and while I will not go into all of the details of the whole thing  I will share a small part of it with you.  I was abused then the abuser moved away.  What sweet relief that was for me.  Our family also moved to a different part of town about a year later.  I was walking to school in our new neighbourhood and low and behold there was the man who abused me walking towards me.  I was afraid, I was angry and I looked him in the eyes as he walked towards me.  I am also stubborn so I was not going to run away or switch to the other side of the street. When I looked at him and he recognized me the look of fear on his face broke something open inside me.  I was no longer the victim of his sick mind, I realized that he was the one imprisoned by it.  I was free and I forgave him.  I never spoke to him that day and I rarely ran into him again.  I just knew, even as a child, that it was imperative that I  let the anger and the hatred go or my whole life was going to be poisoned by it.

You will find your own strength in the letting go and forgiving.  I have to admit that sometimes I have to do this numerous times for the same thing or person.  Some things that I think I have worked through pop up again.  So I let it go, then I let it go again.  The forgiveness can only come when you have let go.  The power or hold of the situation in your life only loses its grip when you let it go.  There is freedom in that.

Peace and love to all
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

A Year of Grace

Apparently it can take more than one year to figure out who you are after your life is torn apart!  I didn’t realize how much of my identity was derived from my business and my relationship.  Once those things were gone, there I was standing naked, feeling exposed and alone, wondering what the hell I was going to do.  I have moved on with my life in a number of ways and most of the time it was trial and error and the best things were happy accidents.  This is the first time in my life I am not working, since the age of 15, and I also didn’t realize how much my self worth was tied into my job and being productive.  It has been one hell of a year with lots of ups and downs but the ups are winning.

I have done things in the last year I never thought I would do.  I tried online dating without much success.  How the heck do you write a profile?  The best and most honest one I could come up with went something like this:  I don’t dye my hair, I don’t wear make up, I own 6 pairs of black boots and I have all my own teeth.  There were few who were intrigued by this!  I finally gave up on the dating thing and asked someone I knew a bit if they were interested in being my friend with benefits, even though I wasn’t really sure what that meant.  Well, this friend with benefits thing turned into much more than I was expecting.  He helped me find the joy in life again and continuously makes me laugh.  He is a very private person so he may not like me writing about this.  Oops, too late.  I guess I just want you all to know that when you least expect it, someone or something is going to come along and help you find the joy in life again.  I also started this blog in the last year after a spiritual awakening of sorts and gained so much from not only the writing of it but hearing what other people had to say about it.  Some comments were surprising and made me see that I was constantly downplaying who I was and what I contributed to the world just by being myself.

Each of us has something to contribute.  You don’t have to move mountains or earn six figures to have value to this world. Sometimes a kind word or a smile can change the course of someones day or life for that matter.  I recently ran into my former husband who I have not been married to since 1998.  I was a little uncomfortable at first but we had a few chats and it was like having coffee with an old friend.  I also had lunch with his parents a few days ago while they were in town and it was a joy to see them again.  I forgot how much I adored them and realized that when we got divorced I essentially divorced a lot of people in my life.  The pain of that period of my life is long dealt with and gone, there is nothing left but love for all of them.  One thing my former husband said in a text message really made me stop and think.  He said, “Maybe you just bring out the best in everyone.”  Perhaps I do, though my first thought upon reading those words was I am not that special.

If you have the ability to approach people and love them unconditionally that is special. If you can let them be them without judgement that is a wonderful gift, not only to them but yourself.  Don’t try to change people, love them for who they are and just by doing that you give them the space they need to grow and change because they want to, not because you think they should.  Don’t restrict other people or your love for them because of your own definition of right or wrong, good or bad.  Open your heart and the world opens its heart right back.  Besides, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?  I love being wrong.

So, I would some up the last year as a year of grace.  There is a gracefulness to awkwardly finding your way.  There is grace in the tears of grief as well as tears of joy.  I am one of those people who cry when I am happy!  There is grace in this world, it is all around you and you can see it if you look for it.  You know what they say, you get what you expect.  So expect grace, expect kindness, expect love, just expect great and wonderful things to happen all around you.

 

Be kind to yourself.
Hug everyone like you mean it!

Donna
aka Miss Daisy

Love and Shit

Yesterday was the first day of summer and I am back home on Vancouver Island. The sun was shining and my guy picked me up at the airport on Sunday with a huge smile on his face and big hug that lifted me off my feet. No one has ever picked me up at the airport with so much joy and it made me melt a little, it made me feel loved. Today, Tuesday, finds me awake at 4:30am suffering from a bit of jet lag as my internal clock tries to sort out the time change. So, I sit here on a comfortable sofa wrapped in a purple blanket waiting for the coffee to perk in the French press and feeling the need to write. You would think that someone who writes so much would have a way with words when talking to people, this is not the case for me. I stumble as I try to speak from my heart and I can be as awkward as a newborn colt when it comes to expressing my feelings. I worry about things and I worry a lot. Sarcasm and joking around are easy for me, serious discussions not so much. I don’t like being vulnerable.
One of the reasons I don’t like letting people know how important they or something else is to me stems from how people have used those things against me in the past. I have also come to the conclusion that I cannot let the past, regardless of how it turned out, write my future. You cannot approach life or people the same way time and time again expecting different results. I realize that everything I say on this blog has been said by countless others. The truth of these statements, as old and worn as they are, has withstood the test of time and then sometimes regardless of the truth of things, the heart of things, shit happens. Shit you were not expecting. I also want to point out that shit helps things grow. So it doesn’t matter whether your glass is half full or half empty the truth is, it is still half a glass. Your viewpoint of the truth is the important thing.

I know that I can ramble on sometimes, but this is the way my mind works. One thought leads to another and the point comes out at the end, if there is a point. I don’t know what the point of this blog is. I know it has helped me tremendously in dealing with my grief and growth. I hope it has made a small difference for someone else even if it is only that they realize that someone has had the same thoughts or fears and they don’t feel so alone in this vast world of disconnectedness. We have vast amount of information at our fingertips but we are all lost in that sea of data looking at a small screen and not noticing the people or events taking place right in front of us. We excel at being disconnected when the only important thing is our connections with others. But, in order to connect you have to open up, let people in and work through the difficulties together.

When I started this relationship with the wonderful man who picked me up at the airport, I wanted someone to do things with. I was essentially looking for a friend with benefits. I did not think any further than that. I have written blog posts about what I want in a relationship and this man is quite aware of my aversion to marriage or living with someone and all the other things that I have written about. He has read my blog and he has listened to me when we have a conversation. He and I are similar in some respects. We both have a weakness for antiques and rusty old cars, sushi, reading, music, coffee chocolate etc etc. We are also very different in the way we view the world and move through it and there is nothing wrong with that. We have much to learn from each other and are inadvertently helping each other refine our perspective and grow. What I was not expecting was this relationship becoming so much more than I had originally intended. I am not going to throw the love word out there simply because I think it is misused and misunderstood. That word holds great meaning for me and I do not use it lightly. Anyone can say the word, few actually mean it in its purest sense.  This man has helped me fall in love with life again and I cannot imagine my world without him in it. I am grateful that he is part of my life and hope he feels the same way.

One of the professors in an English lit class ,yes this was years ago but I have never forgotten it, asked us who had the most to lose in a relationship. I could not come up with an answer. His answer was the person who loves the most. I disagreed with that then and I still disagree with it now. How can you love too much unless the meaning of the word is twisted and warped in your heart. To me the word love is about acceptance, truth, it has a softness and warmth to it. Just looked the word up on line and in my opinion none of the definitions come close to explaining love. Some describe it as a feeling of deep affection, a strong attraction to another person that may include a sexual attraction. I think they, in their definition, have only scratched the surface and in trying to define it have reduced it and taken something away. For me love is never grasping or confining it is about letting go. Letting go of your expectations, letting go of the need to be right and letting go of the person if that is what is needed. When you let go love has some room to enter your heart. When you let go there is space for another person in your heart. So let go, open your heart and watch the magic happen.
Hope you all have a wonder filled day

Plant some flowers for the bees, they need our help and 

our very lives depend on them

Donna

Kind or Polite

Seems like I am finding my groove again after a week of waking up at odd hours and feeling an edgy restlessness. I would imagine that things will settle out even more once I hand over the keys to the house and am living in the new place. I am looking forward to being there on a regular basis instead of visiting there to empty boxes. I bought one of those coffee makers that takes the little cups and have not enjoyed one cup of coffee out of it yet. I don’t like the prepackaged coffee so I bought one of the refillable cups and cannot for the life of me get the coffee to taste right. Does anyone have a need for a Keurig machine? I guess it will be back to the French press style of coffee maker for me! I like my coffee strong with a hint of cinnamon. After I wrote that the thought I had was that’s how I like men too, strong with a hint of spice and I started laughing. Who compares men to coffee? Apparently I do.

I got to spend some time yesterday with a female friend that I haven’t seen in months. We spend most of our time laughing when we are together and it has always been easy to be around her. So we were catching up on our lives for the last few months. She lost her significant other just a month after Howard passed away. Two totally different experiences for sure, but same results. We are each handling things differently too but it does not matter, what matters is that we approach each other without judgement and are supportive and encouraging. That is what it is all about. Do not assume you know the best way to handle anything for anybody. Let them do it their own way and be happy for them.   Let them be, but be there if they need you.

Lots of people told me to call them if I needed anything. Some people meant it and some didn’t. Oh, I can spot phoniness a mile away so I know who is just being what they think is polite and what I think of as bullshit dressed up to look nice. I would rather people be kind than polite, because I find most times the polite ones have another agenda all together. They want to look good, but don’t mean a word they say. Be kind! Show up with someone’s favourite take out and eat it with them or show up with a bucket of cleaning supplies, but do not wait for someone to call you to do something. Kind people get shit done, polite people just talk about it.

It is funny comparing the terms polite and kind. Politeness seems to me to be an external thing and kindness an internal attribute. Don’t get me wrong I do not like rude people as a rule, but sometimes a little rudeness is needed to get the point across, some people don’t get the picture any other way. I would rather have someone be honest and rude than polite and deceitful. Kindness is a whole different ball game. It shows a respect for others without restriction and doesn’t have strings attached to it. Kindness comes from your heart, politeness comes from your mind.  Politeness is dictated by societal standards and by the looks of what is going on in the world, is on its way out. Kindness, even the word has a softer sound to it and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Politeness is exclusive where kindness is inclusive. Polite society will donate money to a cause, a kind society would create change to benefit all and get their hands dirty. I like dirty handed people!

Now there is something else that fascinates me, people’s hands. I am always looking at peoples hands! I look at their eyes a lot as well and have a thing for butts and shoulders too! But their hands can tell a lot about them. Don’t assume you know what the hands are saying. I know some hard working hands that are very soft thanks to hand cream and work gloves! You will just have to trust me on this one but take a look at the hands of the next person you have a coffee with. How comfortable are they with their own hands, do they use them when they talk? I have noticed that when people are uncomfortable their hand gestures are as well. I have also noticed that I put my hands together like I am praying in front of my mouth when I am trying not to say anything and focusing on what the other person is saying. It gives my brain a cue to shut up and listen I guess. Watch their hands and let me know what you see! Bet you start noticing your own hands as well.

Peace and love to all
Hug people and trees and animals
Donna

 

 

 

 

 

Guardians of Stone and Trees

I am sitting here on the sofa and it is quiet this morning, my slightly soiled chair is at the new house. My yellow mug is filled with steaming coffee and the rooster next door is not awake yet. Oh let me correct that, he just woke up and has started broadcasting his manliness to the other roosters in the neighbourhood. Once he starts the rest of them get going, he seems to be the ringleader though. I hear him but I rarely see him. He’s like a sneaky little ninja rooster!

My magnolia tree in the back yard has bloomed and I was hoping it would before I move permanently in two weeks. I was given the tree as a gift on Valentines day twelve years ago and it is now over 14 feet high and overflowing with beautiful white blossoms. I am amazed it is even alive because the neighbour’s goats ate it down to a small nub when it was still in the pot. I do not like goats. Interesting tree, it has no leaves when it blooms, the leaves come later and it is still beautiful after the flowers are gone. Most of the trees planted around the koi pond were gifts. There is a twisted baby black locust tree that has leaves that hang like little ringlets, a waterfall maple that turns a brilliant red in the fall, a fig tree, an assortment of replanted trees that were used in the house for Christmas trees and a gorgeous rhododendron that was transplanted here and has blessed us with huge red flowers every June.

It is not the house I am going to miss but the land and the trees. I am surrounded by tall pine trees, cedars, alders and other trees I am unable to identify.   I feel safe and secure here surrounded by these green sentinels. I have lived in a nurturing green cocoon for years, but now it’s time for me to leave and it is much harder than I thought it would be. I don’t know if I will come back to visit, it would be like stepping back into the past where there are only echoes of the time I lived here. Things change, people move on and new people and things take their place. I hope the new family is happy and that they thrive here. This land is special and has a way of becoming part of your blood and bones.

My new place has no back yard. All I can see out of my windows is this massive rock that has little niches that are just begging for some potted plants, steps carved into it that essentially go nowhere, moss strategically growing in the best spots and my raven sculpture sits on it greeting anyone who walks the path to my door. I love rocks, so it is a wonderful view in my opinion. I feel safe and protected there with this huge guardian of stone keeping watch. It is the perfect place for me to be for the next year. Ooh I have to remember to take my stone gargoyle and find him a spot on the rock!

I have had lots of help with the move and things are clearing out quickly. I cannot believe how empty this place feels. It almost feels as though with everything that has left the property a little of the spirit of the place has left too. More and more of the things that were part of Howard have been sold or given away and every time something leaves it is like he is slowly letting go of this place as well. We both had a lot of letting go to do. The hardest thing for me was to see Howard’s mountain gorilla sculpture leave. I know it is going to a great home where it will be loved, but he has guarded the gate for a long time and the yard feels bare without him. There is also a huge rock in the front yard that looks like the head of a gorilla and the picture for today’s post is a shot of it. The one below is a picture of Howard and his Mountain Guardian sculpture that I took before he got sick. It was rare to see Howard smile in a picture so I really like this shot.

Mountain Gorilla

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful day and that you are able to let go of the things, people and places you need to with grace and love. Much love and big squishy hugs to you all.

 

Please don’t kill spiders

Be kind to everyone

Donna

 

 

The Other Side of Grief

Five letters full of pain and wonder that is what grief is.   In the midst of the pain there are some wonderous moments.  Grief has a lot to offer if you are open to it.  Grief can leave you  laying on the floor broken and also be the catalyst for a life beyond your wildest dreams.  At least that has been my experience over the last year.  Life is never all positive or all negative but a beautiful blending of the two, you can’t have one without the other.  Well, I suppose some people can, however, the two help define each other.

People will be there for you during rough times and offer to help.  Let them help.  Allowing them to be part of your grief, even in the smallest way, is your gift to them.  You may all be changed by it in ways none of you expect.  I know that grief has changed me and I have observed how it has changed others around me.  Not all of it has been positive, but most of it has.  The grief has shaped a softer, yet stronger heart in the middle of me.  Funny how it works sometimes.  You have to find the softness and the gentleness to find out what your true strength is.  I usually think of strength as assertive, forceful, or a test of endurance.  Now I see strength a little differently.  

Strength comes when you are able to experience all of your emotions and see the truth behind them and how they are connected.  There is no good or bad, right or wrong.  Strength comes when you give in and let go.  You must let go of the bullshit and the untruths to see yourself.  Let go of all the beliefs and things that you think define you.  There is nothing like a life shattering event to help you clear away the bullshit that you have based your sense of self on.  

Grief strips away the layers you have wrapped yourself in, attempting to protect yourself from the pain of love, life and death.  You cannot avoid the pain so you may as well throw yourself at it and experience it fully.  It is the experience of its fullness that releases it.  Go for it, things cannot feel any worse.  Oh wait a minute, yes they can.  All you have to do is resist it or try to ignore it and it will make you feel worse just to get your full attention.  So I say, experience the pain of grief fully.  Then you will begin to notice the small bits of wonder hidden inside.  You will laugh, smile, cry and start living again.  It is up to you whether you let it harden or soften you. I choose the softness, we have enough hardened people on this planet.

Have a soft heart

Hug people and dogs

Donna