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 Same but Different

It is 5 am and the coffee is brewing. My slightly soiled chair is in the garage, so I now sit on a big comfy sofa to write, but my sunny yellow mug is still a part of my life. The only noises are the occasional car driving down the highway and the gentle snoring of a great dane named Georgia who has become my shadow and follows me everywhere in my new home. It is hard to move into someone’s home and find your place. This is not to say that the man I am living with has made this difficult, he has done everything to make me feel at home. My things are mixed in with his things and there are pieces of me and my life in every room. There is a blending that happens and it takes me a little while to settle down and feel comfortable. It is not the place that makes it a home, it is the people and our shared experiences. In my case home is definitely where the heart is and my heart has never been tied to a place or the things in it, my heart is connected to the people.

I have been talking to my older sister more than usual and am enjoying this new relationship we are developing. The picture at the top of the page is of me and my sister Marg taken last June at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia. My sister has one of the best laughs, you know the kind that makes you smile or laugh just hearing it. Well, my sister is in the process of writing a book and I get to be a small part of it which is very exciting. We are having conversations now that were not possible before to some extent because our lives were so different. This is no indication of how we feel about each other, I love my sister dearly and she has been more like a second mother to me for most of my life. We are having conversations about things we would never have discussed 5 years ago. I am excited to get to know my sister on a different level.  I have a number of people in my life that I can have conversations with about life and the things that matter and then there are others where the conversation is kept light and just skims the surface of what really matters. This does not make one type of conversation good or bad, I think we need both.

I have been having a difficult time finding my way. I suppose I should give myself a break considering the huge changes that have taken place in my life in the last year and a bit.  The new man in my life, his name is Shawn, was a friend of Howard’s that I had  met once very briefly before Howard passed away.  One of the things that drew me to Shawn was how big his heart is.  He has a lot of room in that heart for a lot of people and that included Howard.  Now it includes me.  Howard’s sculptures have become part of the landscape here and his artwork is also hanging on the walls, sitting on the deck or a shelf.  Shawn’s heart is so big that he is able to include the people that I have loved and still love into it.  So, while Shawn and I are building a life together we both get to include the people and other important things from our past into it.  My heart has a lot of room also.  I will tell you more about all of that in a blog piece that I have called The Tale of Two Ravens.  I have started working on it but the time is just not right to tell that story.

The only reason I am writing this morning is to try and incorporate my writing into my new and busy life.  I have missed sitting in my chair connecting with all of you. The last year has been filled with new experiences, new people and new ways of viewing the world.  I think it just takes me a while to be able to process it all and write about it.  Sometimes I just don’t have the words to express myself.  Someone asked me yesterday to smell a healing spray they had made and give them my opinion.  It was the strangest thing, I almost could not describe the smell.  It just brought up so many feeling that words almost escaped me.  I couldn’t say, oh that smells like roses or some other distinct thing.  It smelled fresh and ancient at the same time, it was almost as if she had captured everything the entire world has ever experienced in a bottle.  Weird huh?  I think she has a gift.

Well, I hope you all have a wonder filled day and don’t forget to make your heart big and greet the world from that place.  Live with your heart wide open, it is worth it.

 

Hug everyone, Peace to all

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

Ancestral Influence

Got a phone call this morning at 5 am. My first thought was something is wrong. Turns out one of my cousins back east called my cell phone by accident. So we had a brief conversation and I sent him a text to make him laugh. Started my day with unfounded worry and a smile. I was worried because I have a nephew who is ill and going for surgery in a few days. This got me thinking about the wonder of our DNA and genetics. I know, how does an accidental phone call lead to a post on genetics.

Our family has a genetic condition called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch syndrome, which may or may not predispose you to a number of different cancers the main one being colon cancer. Four members of my immediate family have had colon cancer so it looks like the odds are not in our favour. So that is the downside to genetics. I have regular screening for two types of cancer and after testing have found that I do not carry the gene that causes this. Other members of my family have not been so lucky. The gene has been passed down through our maternal line of ancestors. I on the other hand take after my father’s side of the family. I am the spitting image of my father and my grandmother. So this stuff makes me think about what else we inherit from our long line of ancestors.

What is it that makes us who we are? Do we inherit personality traits as well? I would say yes to this. I have a cousin who is about 16 years older than me and when he was here for a visit a few years ago we discovered that we have some of the same quirks. I am constantly losing my coffee or tea mug and never close a drawer fully. His wife started laughing because he does the exact same thing. Family trait or coincidence, we may never know. I thought it was hilarious and we still talk about it nine years later. As far as learned traits go I would say I am a mixture of both parents. I grew up being influenced by them and was taught to see the world through two very different sets of eyes and life experiences. They helped shape the person I am today. I on the other hand am wholly responsible for who I am today and like to think that I have refined and expanded the world view they had. So are we simply the sum of our experiences? You can have two people experience the same upbringing in the same household and they move through the world in completely different ways. I look at my own brother and sisters and marvel at how we are so alike in some ways and so different in others. I also marvel at how each of has a unique memory of the same event from our past.

I have never felt like I fit into my family. I used to wonder if I was adopted but looked too much like my Dad for that to be the case. When I danced down the wonderful path of discovering my ancestors during my genealogical research I discovered some interesting things. My love for fiddle music, my writing, my ability to sketch, and having a head for numbers, are all things that one of my ancestors excelled at. I am a great mishmash of everyone who has contributed to my DNA. Magical isn’t it?

I also believe that my cells and DNA have their own memories of all the things that my ancestors both close and distant experienced. Even my intuitive abilities are inherited and handed down through my family line. Sometimes these things seem to have skipped a generation or two but if I look closely enough they are there in all of us. So I have chosen to hone my writing skills and my intuitive abilities, others in the family have chosen a different path. My Grandmother whom I have never met, she passed away when my mother was a baby, comes to visit in spirit and she usually shows up when I am writing or doing some piece of creative work.   Does she have this connection to me because I am pursuing things that she loved? I like to think so. She spends a lot of time looking over my left shoulder when I type. She is nodding her head right now and says that I am doing things that she wanted to do but never got the chance to. So I guess in some way the grandmother I have never met in person has influenced me and continues to do so with her presence in spirit. She also tells me that my intuitive abilities come from her line as well as my father’s side of the family. A double whammy! So the predisposition for colon cancer, as well as artistic and intuitive abilities are handed down from generation to generation.  Nothing is ever all good or all bad. The truth of it all is somewhere in the middle. So I choose to walk in the middle of the path, the view is much better from here.

Peace and love to all
Donna

 

The Heart Knows

I woke up yesterday morning with a new energy and renewed spirit. This was a much welcomed change. I haven’t been feeling down the last few weeks, it was more of a flat feeling if that makes any sense. So, I have been pondering this change in my energy and trying to uncover what it is. What is at the root of it. I would have to say that it stems from my heart. What is really interesting is that it spreads out and touches the people I come in contact with. You know that saying smile and the whole world smiles with you? Well, it is true. If you live from your heart people cannot help but respond to you from theirs. It is contagious in a good way. Sure there are still some people who do not seem to have a heart to respond with but it is in there. It may be hardened and dried up a little but love them anyway. One thing I have a gift for is cracking the tough shell of cranky old men and old women for that matter. I love the cranky ones and always have. When I worked in a nursing home my coworkers would ask me why a certain patient was so nice to me and so mean to everyone else. I told them it was because I loved them and they knew it! On some level people can see through the bullshit and know who has a heart and isn’t afraid to use it.
I just had a flashback to a vision I had about my life when I was a child. I will just say that my relationship with my Mom was not an easy one, she was hard to love. The universe gave me the opportunity to look at all the interactions I had with my Mom and how different things could have been for her if I had responded to her with love instead of through my fears. I was also shown how different things would have been for me. Until you learn the lesson the universe keeps putting the same issues in front of you until you deal with it. The people may change and the situation my change but it is the same issue over and over. Since I chose to respond to people from my heart instead of my head, that dark space where the fear lurks, life has changed dramatically. Do I still have fears? Oh yeah baby I still have fears, I am merely human. But I have chosen to respond with love despite my fears and insecurities.
When we tell ourselves things like, I always have trouble expressing myself or I will never get along with my brother, we are reinforcing that idea. Someone told me to change the way I said things and I would start to notice changes. What I did was put the words in the past in front of these statements. In the past I never got along with my brother. This leaves the future open to a different outcome. So regardless of what you have struggled with in the past that is where it belongs, do not let your past experiences dictate the future. That small change in the way I spoke had a huge impact. I now try to choose my words more carefully. The answer to all of our troubles is always inside us. Someone I know was talking about his disastrous relationships. Two failed marriages were weighing on his heart and mind. I kindly pointed out that the only thing all of his relationships had in common was him. Then we both burst out laughing! When I realized that I had the solutions to any problem inside my own heart and accepted ownership of the issue and the solution my entire perspective changed. I make it sound easy, but it was not. It took a lot of work both internal and external. Fortunately the universe kept testing my new found skills and helped me hone them. Do I love everyone? No I do not, I treat them with kindness and compassion but I do not give them much time or waste my energy on them. I do say a little prayer for them though.
I have someone in my life who I really enjoy spending time with. I am out of my comfort zone sometimes with this person, but I do not let that stop me from getting to know them or interacting with them heart wide open. The world is a better place because they are in it and they make my soul want to dance. I enjoy them for who they are at this moment and all their little quirks and idiosyncrasies. I have fears, but will be damned if I am going to let them dictate this relationship or any other one. My past is not going to colour the future. I have wiped the slate clean and the future is only full of possibilities. Perhaps it is easy for me to do this because the life I had ended abruptly. I am not sure. All I know is that I take each day as it comes and try to deal with any issues as they come up. I have the answers inside my heart. What do you want out of a relationship? Do you want acceptance? Then give that to the other person. Whatever it is that you want, that is what you have to give. Simple isn’t it? 
I stopped for a minute to refill my coffee and had a vision of my heart. When you think of someone’s heart the colour red comes to mind for most of us. Well, I will tell you a secret, the colour of my heart is blue. It is a calm peaceful blue like a clean clear ocean warmed by the summer sun. It is liquid like the ocean too, the colours change in depth and swirl and shift and swell. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Well, my warm blue heart wishes you a love filled day and please don’t let fear stop you from having the life and relationships you want to have. Get out there and open your heart to the world. I promise you will not regret it!

Much love to all

Donna

Electrical Tape and Shrink Wrap

I am back!  It is just after five in the morning and I have my sunny yellow mug filled with steaming coffee and though my slightly soiled chair is in the room I now sit on my brand new sofa instead.  The need to write has resurfaced in a new way, perhaps because of my new perspective from the sofa.  I am looking around this yet unfamiliar room and seeing the old blended with the new.  That is also who I am, the old Donna intertwined with the new Donna.  A wonderful synthesis of all I was and all I can be.  Transformation can be beautiful and difficult at the same time.

I am driving back to Sooke this morning to visit the post office, drop off some things to a friend and plan on visiting my favourite coffee shop to see who is around.  I am also going to buy a piece of art that spoke to my soul and am keeping my fingers crossed that it is still hanging on the shop wall.  If it is not, it wasn’t meant to be mine.  If I am going to make a frivolous purchase that is over a hundred dollars I usually walk away from it for a few days.  I want to explore my feelings about it and know why I am buying it.  This piece of art is a local Native American thunderbird mask that gave me goosebumps.  It is a symbol of many things and the thunderbird holds special meaning for me.  The mask itself reminds me of the masks we all wear in our daily life and how important it is for me to walk this earth unmasked.  This is what the universe is asking of me.  Well the universe is demanding it really and every time I try to hide it thrusts me naked into the world and makes me deal with it.  Sometimes the universe has a funny sense of humour!

I like the fact that the universe and its strange sense of humour keeps me humble and on my toes.  It challenges me in the same way that the people I care about challenge me to be a better person.  The universe encourages me to grow and stretch the limits my own mind imposes on me.  My mind can sometimes be a dark and lonely place, but when I use it in combination with my heart and all the love it holds there are no limits to what can be.  There are no limits.  Unless you live in a constant state of fear, then there are limits.  This is what I think about fear, because I do have moments of sometimes overwhelming fear, what is the worst thing that could happen?  So, I visualize the worst thing that could happen and then think oh what the hell!

My entire life for the last year has been about overcoming fear, loss and doubt.  I think I am handling it really well, but I am not going to get cocky about it cause then the universe will send something my way to remind me that I am not all that.  I have done things in the last six months that I would have never thought of doing before.  I have started this blog, I have deep conversations with complete strangers, and I have reached out to other people in ways I never thought I would even though I am shy.  There is a contradiction for you, I am extremely outspoken and extremely shy.I have no idea where my life is headed or what my next great adventure will be.  Somedays I am okay with that and other days the uncertainty drives me crazy. Oh Hell, I drive me crazy!

I have met a young woman recently, who I absolutely adore.  She is brave, funny, strong, and has a huge heart.  I admire the fact that she is who she is without apology.  I also admire the gentle spirit she has when dealing with other people.  She has taught me much and I am sure will continue to do so.  So in the spirit of our blossoming friendship I will leave you with the following thought today.  Having trouble with something in your life?  Just visualize yourself using electrical tape and shrink wrap on it until it is small enough to handle.  Yup,  electrical tape and shrink wrap will help you fix anything!

Much love to all of you
Donna

Freedom

Well, the move is complete and I hand over the keys to the new owners of my home today!  It is a bittersweet moment.  I knew who I was in Sooke and am not sure who I am in Langford, if that makes any sense.  I guess I felt that I belonged in Sooke and don’t feel that way in the new place yet.  I will give it some time, but know this is only temporary.  Let’s see where the universe sends me next!

Now the unpacking and further sorting and sifting through the material parts of my life begin.  My goal is to get rid of all the things that are not necessary or bring me joy.  Cannot part with my car Lola though and I am so happy she has a warm and safe place to wait for me.  It is going to be so much fun driving her this summer!

Wow, the last year has been quite a roller coaster ride.  Lots of highs and many low spots to navigate through.  My life has been completely changed because of Howard’s life and death, mainly his life though.  It has also been changed by the new people who have entered and become so important to me.  I am blessed to know and care for each of them.  It can be hard sometimes when life turns shitty to find the positive aspects of it.  I am one of the lucky people who can experience and see both sides of every situation.  Even during the darkest moments there was light visible.

I had better get this day started and over with.  There is a freedom that comes with not being tied to a property and animals.  A freedom I have not had in a very long time and I’m not quite sure how to respond to it.  There are so many options open to me that it is hard to pick one.  For now I will just keep sorting and sifting and see what direction the universe sends me in.  I do know one thing, it will include many wonderful new people and I am looking forward to meeting them and getting to know them.  I also get to build on the relationships that have already formed for me and that is exciting too.  Even freedom has a price.

Peace and love to you all
Donna