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

Let’s Dance

For most of my life I have always felt that I did not fit in. Didn’t seem to fit with my own family, coworkers, or society. I tried to fit in, I really did. I did what they told me was right and good and tried to be part of them but something always felt off. It was like they were living in a slightly different world than I was and spoke a different dialect.   I wanted to be a part of it so badly that I sacrificed my own beliefs to try. One day, I do not know the date, I realized that I could no longer live that way if I wanted to live. I am now sure that I was not the only person who struggled with this. I’m sure of this because I have met others who felt the same way over and over again. We were struggling to be true to ourselves in a world that wanted conformity and we paid a price.

Some of us turned to drugs and alcohol to deaden the feelings we had inside. Some of us walked away from society and live far from other people, hermits I suppose. Some of us stood up and made a huge difference in the world. We were not thanked for it at the time. Look back over the history of our culture and these people will stand out like sore thumbs! You decide who they were, I am not going to tell you. Please do not judge us for trying to stop the pain, we did not know any other way to do it and felt we had no one to guide us, we felt we had no other choice. We are a passionate bunch and have created some beautiful art, music, movies, books and poetry in our attempt to reach out to you from our hearts. Our hearts pouring out of us in the hope that the pain would stop and someone somewhere would understand. Most of us have not stood out in the crowd but we are stepping out now!

I use the word dance a lot in reference to pain. Anyone can walk with pain but there are those of us who literally dance with it. We get down and dirty with it in a primal way and because of this have much to share with you. I have come to realize that I have been in pain both physical and emotional for most of my life. I did not talk to many people about it. I did not think they would understand. Now I realize that them understanding my pain was not the point. The point for me was I needed to understand it and sharing has helped me do that. This is the story of Donna, pain, fear, joy, celebration, love and hate, the whole enchilada!

I do not have a competitive bone in my body, jealousy doesn’t exist in my world. How do you think I fit in a corporate culture that has a cutthroat attitude? Not so well, so I left the corporate world and just took a job. I have been selling you things since I was sixteen years old and I was good at it but not in the traditional sense. I even used to go to chain stores and teach the employees how to sell based on the corporate cultures mandate of illusion and fear, that was my career. That is not how I sold things though. I sold by not selling! I gave you information about things so that you could make the best decision for you! I empowered you to purchase based on your own wants and needs and had some of the highest sales rates in the country. They could not figure out how I did it. I was honest with you and sometimes I would even send you away without selling you anything, not what the boss wants to see but they couldn’t argue with the sales statistics. I developed relationships not customers. As you can see, out there in the retail world this is starting to happen all over the place. Woohoo!

One thing that people are surprised to learn about me is that I was a classically trained violinist and started playing at the age of seven. I was fairly good and at the top of my class in music school. Then it got super competitive and I walked away. Not because I couldn’t cut it, the competitiveness ruined it for me. I had my first solo at a concert when I was twelve and no one in my family came to see it. I was heartbroken. I walked away from it all a few years later. It was the pain I couldn’t handle. I feel music! Even today I do not listen to music with my ears, I listen with my heart, so it doesn’t matter if it is being sung in a different language, I feel it. I still love the violin, it is the instrument that speaks to me and once in a while I will rosin up my bow and let all the pain flow through me and transform itself into the air as sweet music. Even pain can be beautiful.

I guess what I am trying to say is that the world is changing. There is a shift in consciousness happening all around us and I am excited. I am doing my happy dance! We are moving from being exclusive to inclusive, head thinkers to heart minded, small minded to open minded and oh my God we need that if we are going to thrive as a people. Don’t be surprised the next time you see a homeless person sit down to play a piano like a genius, or sing songs so sweetly your teeth ache. The only difference between you and them is they danced with the pain and have not found their way back to their chairs. They deserve love and compassion as much as you do. Feel the music, feel the pain, just feel. What I once looked at as a curse I now see as a blessing. I help people, I help them heal in many different ways and I can do this simply because I can feel the pain, my own, other people’s, I feel the world’s pain and I am ready to dance with it. So today I say to you, I don’t feel as though I no longer fit in, I was born to do this, I was born to be part of this new way of thinking and help people in whatever form that takes.  This new world that is forming is all about the heart and love. Are you ready to be part of the revolution that is taking place inside of us, are you already part of it? Good, let’s dance!

Thank you Carolyn for the inspiration

Love you all

Donna

The Dance of Grief

Grief is a funny word. I think it should contain more letters and have a harsher sound to it. It sounds soft and uncomplicated doesn’t it?   It is not soft, that is for sure. Experts say it has five to seven stages to it depending upon where you get your information. Seven stages sounds complicated especially since you can go through them in order only to revisit one of those stages at any time. Grief is different for everyone! Just like life and the way humans respond and react to that, it is different for everyone. Remember that.

Dealing with loss is complicated and you can grieve for many different reasons. My grief is due to the loss of my husband and sometimes it sneaks up on me in the strangest situations. I think it’s odd when someone says I lost my husband. I did not lose him, I know exactly where he went and there were times I wished that I could have gone with him. It would have been so much easier if he had lived and I had died, well easier for me. I would have traded my life for his and offered that solution to the universe a few times. The universe had other plans for me.  I have had a few long chats with the universe and all the powers that be, I was not impressed.

Okay grief let’s dance. It was mind blowing how powerful the grieving was. It brought me to my knees, some days I didn’t get out of bed and a few times I just sat in this chair staring out the window not seeing or feeling anything. I had trouble concentrating, I couldn’t sleep, some days I couldn’t even get dressed. Please, oh please, oh please don’t ask me to make another decision. It doesn’t matter how many people you have around you, grief is there waiting for you. I just got this image in my mind of grief as a dust bunny ninja, lurking in corners and hiding under the bed, jumping out at you when you least expect it. Not only are you grieving the loss of the person, you are also having to let go of your dreams and the future you had planned. Your person ( mother, father, child, friend, husband) dies and your entire life is changed forever, dreams gone in the blink of an eye.

I am a practical person and can usually find solutions in any problematic situation. There is no solution for grief. It doesn’t stop and is constantly changing. One minute it is in your face and messing with your ability to breathe and the next it retreats back to its dark corner and waits. I can remember a day when I was out with friends and on the drive home I had realized I had not thought of my husband for a few hours, grief jumped into the seat beside me and I was assaulted by it. My heart screamed how could I have forgotten Howard for those few hours? My mind was on other things and I had some fun with the girls, then the minute I was alone the reality of the situation hit home. This was no ordinary lunch date because Howard was not going to be home when I got there.  Sometimes when I go to sleep I forget what has taken place and when I wake up in the morning it hits me all over again.  Some mornings I wake up and don’t think about it all.

Perhaps I am one of the lucky ones. Because I have always had the ability to go with the flow when grief struck I embraced it. I explored this aspect of the process and went where it led me. Grief also has the ability to transform you and like any transformation the process is not pretty or pain free. The amount of growth for me has been proportionate to how willing I was to experience all that grief had to offer. I have grieved without apology. Despite the fact that I am moving on with my life, I still have moments of overwhelming grief. I had one last night. Driving home, tears pouring down my face and singing at the top of my lungs in great gasps and sobs.  Thank the universe it was dark and no one could see me. I grieve in private and I grieve a lot in my car.

There is no end to this story, no tidy summation to leave you with. The loss is always there, you just learn how to go on with your life and live with the loss. You learn to live with it and if you let it grief can teach you much about living. So please have some patience with the people you know who are suffering a loss of any kind in their life. Just love them through the process and set aside your own expectations of how they should be handling it. Until you have danced with grief you don’t know if you will be dancing a fast and hard flamenco or a slow intimate waltz.  In my case it has been an awkwardly beautiful interpretive dance that changes speed and rhythm on a whim.

Hug people, all the people

Love you all

Donna

 

 

Buying Into Bullshit

I cannot believe that I am writing this! Remember that this is after all only my opinion and in no way am I trying to tell you not to believe what you believe, or am I asking you to agree with me.Having said that, let’s do this. I am so tired of bullshit! I had a chat with two friends of mine yesterday. You know, the real friends that allow you to just say whatever you want and need to get of your chest, without getting upset about it or taking it personally. Anyway, we discussed many different things and they asked me one question (a lot of people have asked me this in the last six months) “Are you going to open your business again?” In my head and heart I heard HELL NO! Up until that moment, whenever I was asked this, I would say I am not sure. Something didn’t feel quite right until yesterday when the hell no came screaming out of me. My business was a retail store that sold yoga, meditation and metaphysical products to the not so general public. I just fell into the business with a forceful nudge from the universe. I cannot open that business again because that would mean I am not living an authentic life and at this point I have trouble being anything but authentic. You do not need the shit I was selling! What most of you wanted was someone to talk to and I provided that for free, no purchase required. What I got out of the business was you, I needed you to interact with me and at that point in my life the only method I had to meet you, was to sell you stuff.

Please note that this is not an attack on a specific industry but the retail industry as a whole and certain segments are singled out only as an example for making a point. You want to practice yoga get on the floor or the grass and do it! You do not need a mat, special clothing or any of the other stuff that you are being sold. It has been done for centuries without any of that. People want to sell you stuff and in order to do it they need you to believe that you cannot possibly do it “right” without their stuff. Meditation, same thing, just sit in a comfortable position and get it started. Mind you, I do love my meditation bench and it allows me to sit for long periods. (In my case 1/2 an hour is long) and be comfortable. You want healing and look for things that are going to make it faster and easier. These things you buy are tools people!   They are just tools to get you out of the small minded world you have trapped yourself inside of so you don’t feel the pain. They can help sure but no one thing or one person can heal you. You heal you! You get honest with yourself and do the work because if you don’t no one person and no thing can save your ass. If every time you need to make a decision you consult someone or something you are not acknowledging your own feelings. You want someone else to tell you what to do and then if it doesn’t work it is their fault. Take responsibility for you and find, search, and seek out the help you need but don’t expect to not have to do the work.

Sorry, I went on a bit of a rant there. I feel very strongly about it and cannot sell you things at this time. What I want to sell you on is your own ability to help yourself. Sure we need help sometimes and that is true for all of us, accept help, seek the help, be the help for others. I am not saying don’t buy the tarot cards or consult a psychic, or use crystals or have a reiki treatment or seek professional medical help in any capacity. These are all wonderful tools on the path to healing. I use Reiki, tarot cards, crystals, essential oils, and medical professionals on my own healing journey. I do not depend on them to make decisions or to solve my problems. What I am saying is do not expect them to fix you. I am asking what you would do if none of that existed or all just went away. What the fuck would you do? Well some people would have you believe that if you would only have nothing but positive thoughts it will be all rainbows and puppy dog kisses. I say bullshit! You want to get rid of your pain then you need to get down and dirty with it. Roll around on the floor naked and make sweet love to that pain!   Feel it, don’t try to push it away or cover it up with flowery words because sometimes your fucking life will depend on your ability to dance with the pain. I have survived some seriously nasty shit over the course of my life, am thriving even and for the most part am a warm and happy person. Most of my friends, notice I said most, would agree with that statement. Some would call me something much less flattering, they also have no idea what I have been through in my life because I don’t share all the details with everyone. I have danced with the pain in the many shapes and forms it came in. I have been there. I hope you do not have to stay with the pain as long as I did.

I don’t care how many positive and self affirming thoughts you have going on in that pretty little head of yours, it is masking the symptoms of a much larger problem. It cannot take away the pain until you face the pain and there is always help available. Please get help if you need it and please don’t feel as though you are all alone. That is the big secret, everyone feels alone with their pain and afraid they will be judged, ignored, rejected etc. etc. if they reach out to someone. If the first person you reach out to is a complete idiot reach out to someone else and then someone else until you find the right person. You are fucking worth it and your life matters no matter what you have been through. You are not alone. Think about it, with over seven billion people on the planet I am sure there is someone who will understand what is eating you up inside.

Positive thinking has its place for sure! What works for me is sending the positive thoughts out to others, by helping them I help myself. I am not focused on my narrow little world, I am getting out of my own dark and sometimes self defeating mind and giving to others. What you put out into the world comes back to you, they say. I’m still not sure who the hell “they” are but I could kick their ass right now. Manifest the life you want “they say”. So, what you put out comes back. Putting out I want this, I need that, this is what I want my life to look like, blah blah blah is grasping. You grasp anything in your fist long enough and you will choke it. Grasping, greed, me, me, me. Just think you get back what you send out!!! Send out love and compassion for others and you get love and compassion back from others. Send out all the bullshit you have bought into and you get back more bullshit. Is it starting to make sense?

Please stop buying the shit they are selling that tells you that you are not enough, this pill will fix all your problems, that car will earn you respect, this newer and bigger house will improve your messed up family life. The healing starts internally with you and a decision to do the work you need to do to start the healing process. Seek the help that you need in whatever form that takes for you. But, I beg you not to hand them the power you were born with to know and heal yourself by purchasing the shit they are selling. You do not need to purchase anything to be a happy healthy person in all of your brilliant glory, what you need is other people, that human connection. You need love and you cannot buy that.

Be the love, be the change
Love you all
Donna

More than Enough

I think there must be an art to letting go. A sweet release of everything extraneous and unnecessary. A paring down, uncomplicated by desires or expectations . Sounds peaceful and gentle doesn’t it? The reality of letting go for some of us is neither gentle nor remotely peaceful. We cling and grasp, leaving deep marks with our fingernails down the backs of the people we once loved. We suffer and wallow in self pity. Sometimes letting go gets tangled in our broken dreams and emotional turmoil. We love to complicate things, make them more than they are and think doing damage on our way out will take some of the pain of our loss away. Sometimes we think of letting go as a loss, but I think that’s where we go wrong.

You’re angry, let it go, breathe it out through your mouth. Whatever it is that you need to let go of, breathe it out. One forceful puff of air and the anger, or whatever it is for you, dissipates a little bit. Over and over breathe it out until it no longer remains. Can you feel that? The letting go gave you something, as though offering up what it is you need to let go of made room for something else. Something so unlike what you released it takes time to decipher the feeling. A sense of peace perhaps, or a calm acceptance of the loss? I think people could have any number of descriptions for it and they would all be right. The space created by the letting go is just that a space, you can fill it with anything your soul cries out for. But, do we need to fill it before the thing you released creeps its way back in. I think some of us will try just because that space makes us uncomfortable. The pause between breaths, that is where you find you. That quiet space is where you hide.

I don’t understand why any of us would hide from ourselves but we do it. I have done it and still do, a lot. Why is facing the truth of ourselves, the pure love that wants to radiate out of us so difficult? Everyone tells us the answers are out there somewhere. Feeling bad? Have another piece of cake, drink, spend money on anything, gamble, smoke, just grab something and stuff it into that space. We are afraid. We are afraid we will be rejected, ridiculed, laughed at, criticized, unloved and any other number of things we can imagine that will fuel that fear. We are deficient and lacking. We are never enough of something or enough for somebody.

I say you, just you are enough. With your wounds and scars you are enough. With your imperfect body and wrinkles, you are enough. With your heartache and tears, you are enough. Just be you, you are perfect in this moment. Love yourself, deeply and passionately until the space inside you grows so large there is room for everyone you meet. You surround them with love and now you are more than enough. For you are love itself and people can see it and feel it and they desire it. You are more than enough!

Hug everyone
Love yourself
Donna

Heart wide open!

It is so dark here in the wilds of Sooke this morning and waking up hours before the sunrise is a new habit of mine. I’m sitting in my chair with the fireplace going and a steaming cup of my favourite coffee. The coffee tastes better when I use my handmade, sunny yellow mug for some reason. This doesn’t make any logical sense, but trust me, the coffee does not taste the same in another mug. I’ve tried to use a different mug but I always come back to the yellow one. I guess me and the yellow mug have a comfortable relationship with one another. I know it’s curves and my slender fingers fit perfectly in the handle.

Comfort is good and bad. I wish my name was Comfort, what a beautiful way to introduce yourself. Hi, my name is Comfort!  I like it and I am sure people would automatically feel at ease around someone with that name. We do some crazy things in order to be comfortable with ourselves and the rest of the world. We will put up with things that make us uncomfortable, in some cases, in order to continue on a familiar path. Better the devil ya know, right? Well, as some of you already know my life had some drastic changes last year. My spouse of 11 years, his name was Howard, passed away within a few months of being diagnosed with cancer. The type of cancer doesn’t really matter, the fact that it ended our dance together on this earth is the real matter. Funny that I used that phrase because we never, ever danced with each other. So, Howard was ill and I had a business and a full-time job. Needless to say, I closed the business and cut back my hours at work, so we had time to be together and I had time to look after things for him. I don’t think many people know that Howard and I worked together with his parents in their family business of 38 years. Yes, I worked with my man and my in-laws! There are a few stories there!  Back to the important parts. Howard and I both thought he would survive this. We never for a moment thought that a man who never got sick and was so fit and healthy would succumb so quickly. He did everything he could to stay here and I was amazed at the strength and grace he possessed when faced with his own mortality. I unfortunately did not exhibit the same grace.

Howard was my anchor, my comfort in a world of uncertainty. My business and my job could be replaced but this man was so special and my god he showed me every day how much he loved me. He didn’t speak about love much, he lived it! His actions, which I think spoke much louder than words, told me everyday how important I was to him. He never once criticized me or made me feel silly or small or less than beautiful. I do some crazy shit so I think that took great strength! He loved me when I was at my worst and my best. He held me as my heart was breaking when I lost the baby we created together and never once tried to stop my tears, he loved me through it. He loved me unconditionally and with every cell. I was comfortable, happy and empowered. Then it all ended.

Okay here comes the messy and graceless part. I could not find the gracefulness in me without seeing it reflected back to me through his eyes. Did I mention that his eyes were blue? A beautiful denim blue that spoke to my soul. Okay, I’m just avoiding the uncomfortable parts. Here we go down the rabbit hole! I was ANGRY!!!! Can you imagine a small 5 foot 3 east coaster angry at the world and spewing it out upon the people she loved and complete strangers in grand and dramatic fashion. No? Okay think of a wild animal (any big ferocious feline should work) ripped from their environment and placed in a small cage and put on display for people to gawk at. Yes, that is a much better visual. Now imagine for another second that this feline was so in touch with the world around her that she could communicate with the universe and caged that was taken from her too. I could not feel anything. The beautiful and wonderful world of spirit (I will post about this aspect later) that I had experienced since I was born was gone. It felt like someone had shut the door and turned off the lights in a room with no windows or fresh air. I was blind with rage and grief. Everything that I thought made me who I was had been taken away.

I love being wrong! My friends and family loved me through the most difficult and graceless period of my life. Now here is the funny part. Despite the fact that my entire life had been destroyed, because that is how I saw it, a whole new life was being born. Even through my rage and grief I could see the possibilities that we’re now available to me. Talk about conflicting emotions! Grief and hope we’re fighting a war inside me. Then I thought about the man I had loved and knew he would want me to celebrate the fact that I was alive even though he was not. He was selfless that way. Howard was instrumental in me learning how to be me without apology. He taught me to stand strong with my feet firmly planted on my path and my heart wide open. He would be upset if he thought I closed myself off from the beauty and miracles of life because he was no longer walking with me in this physical plane. He inspired me when he was alive and continues to inspire me now that he is gone. Thanks Howard, I will always love you and will live my life to the fullest to honour all the love you gave and the things you taught me.  You were an amazing man Howard and amazing men do amazing things.  This last sentence was a little joke between us!

 

Wow, I have gone through a lot of tissues writing this! I just want to say a few more things before I start my day. Don’t be afraid to love with 110 percent of your soul. Love is not painful! Loneliness, anger, loss, isolation, a hunger for connections with others, now those are painful things. Don’t be afraid! I wish I could show you the world through my eyes and heart. Oh yeah, I can do that and have made it my mission. When you see me it shines from my eyes and if you are open you can see the love that radiates out of me and get a glimpse of the world through my heart and eyes. It is a beautiful world but you have to approach it with your heart wide open in order to see it! So for the people that avoided me in the grocery store, there is a softer and gentler Donna walking down the aisles so you don’t have to run away anymore.  I’ll show you the wonders of the universe, yes I smile with my eyes and heart

 

 

Oh yes, and hug people, as many people as you can!

Peace and love to all

Donna