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

Hiding in Mud Puddles

Once upon a time there was a young, carefree girl who chased butterflies, jumped in mud puddles and rolled around in the grass laughing cause it tickled. She was never lonely, would wear the same dress everyday for a week because she loved it (it was blue with white daisies all over it) and would run when her dad came home at night out of the sheer joy of seeing him again. She did not worry about what others thought, she was taught to do that. She did not care if her long hair was wild and uncombed, or her feet were dirty from being outside barefoot, but others did. She was taught that she could not say what was on her mind regardless of the truth of it, that she had to be neat and tidy, she had to be a good girl cause no one liked bad girls. She was taught to hide herself inside all the rules and blend in with the crowd. She was taught to never be herself.

She became a sad young lady who was always trying to fit it and conform, then she rebelled. It was not pretty! The ideas they thrust upon her were discarded, the things she thought she loved were set aside and years were spent searching to find all the parts of herself that were hidden deep, deep inside where no one could see them. They were hidden so deep that it was hard for her to reach them but reach them she did. This rebellion was not instantaneous, it brewed slowly for years and years. A little bit here and a little bit there until she could see the beauty of who she was inside and out and believed it.

Now she is on an adventure of another sort. She helps people see the beauty of themselves and while she is helping other people she is still learning and growing and laughing and dancing to the beat of her own drum. By the way she still jumps in mud puddles, cannot resist them some days and doesn’t worry about getting dirty. She doesn’t care that her hair may be messy from the wind and the rain, she doesn’t care if yours is either. She has streaked grey hair that she refuses to dye, won’t wear make up, has a fetish for black boots and now owns 9 pairs, loves hugging people, smiles with her whole being and she is having the most fun of her life.

She is me, as if you hadn’t figured that out already. I love music any music and I love to dance around the house in my pyjamas. I sing while I am cooking or doing the dishes, having a shower or going for a walk. For some reason I am no longer able to sit in a chair normally and I am always wiggling some part of my body. I can’t tell you how many people ask me if I need to pee! I spend a lot of time alone, which has allowed me to get comfortable with me. I love me and my life that is constantly changing and shifting, with the timing of the universe. I also love people, all people. I don’t care what you look like, what kind of clothes you wear, what you do for a living, how much money you make, or any of the other bullshit that society says is important. I want to know what makes your eyes light up and your soul shout for joy. What makes you sing and dance? I want to know what keeps you awake at night, what scares you, what has made you hide yourself from the world, what has made you the glorious being that you are. I can see you hiding in there and have so much fun when you come out to play. My heart and soul dance a jig for you! I want you to be happy and joyous and free to be you, when you are around me and even when you are not around me, but especially when you are around me cause its fun. I love you just the way you are. Be silly, be spontaneous, be you. Next time you are with me prepare to get splashed with water from mud puddles! Hope you don’t mind getting dirty. Let’s play!

Love to you all

Donna

 

Grief and Compost

Woke up this morning with tears streaming down my face. I had a dream about Howard which I do not think has happened since he passed away. It was a wonderful dream and he was so happy and full of life. Then I woke up and remembered that he is gone and the grief started pouring from my heart and eyes. This has not happened for months and took me by surprise. I remembered the last few days of his life and some of the conversations and experiences we had together. I asked him not to leave me here all by myself and he said he wouldn’t. I knew he could not stay and I could not stand to see him in so much pain. So, I had to let him go and let him know I would be okay. He just grinned and said I know you will, like he knew something I didn’t.

There must have been some part of him that knew he would be leaving long before he got diagnosed with cancer. He tidied up a lot of loose ends with the vintage cars and made connections with people who would become important to me. Sometimes it feels like he is still looking after me and that I am never alone. Other times, I can barely remember what it was like to have him here, my life has changed so much. I have no regrets, I feel no guilt, and know we both loved and appreciated each other. Howard actually thanked me for staying with him through all of it which surprised me. He said some people would have walked away. I don’t want to know those people. How could you walk away from someone you love just when they need you the most. According to the hospice staff it happens more frequently than we know. What a sad and lonely world we live in.

I thank the universe that I had the strength of spirit to stand by my man when things went to shit. I never realized how much strength I truly had hidden inside this small body. I will be there for the people I love regardless of how much it hurts me to see and feel their pain. My heart just keeps getting bigger because of it. I also had a lot of people who stood by me and supported me through this whole process and my God I love them for it. They are my tribe, my community. It takes special people to allow someone to fall apart and just be there for them without trying to change it or fix it for them. Some want to stop your tears and your grief. They cannot handle your pain, it makes them feel things they do not want to feel inside themselves. It is all about them and their fears.

Today I have a few people coming to the house to take more things away. The fishing boat, some sculptures and tools. Soon there will be nothing left but an empty house sitting on this land. Land that has nurtured me for twelve years. I am going to walk away from here soon and it is proving to be much harder than I expected. However, I am not walking away from my life with Howard, I am walking towards something, I am walking towards my future.

Be there, really be there, for the people you love. Don’t shy away from the tough times, you don’t grow when everything is all rosy. In our disposable society, in which even people are disposable to some, be the compost. Be the compost that provides nourishment and promotes growth in others. Take all the pain you have experienced in your life and use it to find that connection with others and encourage them to be the best them they can be. Be compost for their soul and yours.

Love to all

The Joy and the Anger

One of the most difficult years of my life has created some amazing changes in me. While my initial response to all of the adversity and loss that I faced was a soul numbing anger, things have taken a different turn in the last few months. There is a softness in me that did not exist before and a renewed and refined compassion and love for others has blossomed out of that. While I have faced challenges before in my life, this was the first time I looked nowhere but inside my own heart for solutions and answers. I did not look for an external solution.

Something I have discovered is that I have an ability to be in the moment with whatever is happening internally and externally. I am able to be present and look at what is going on and as a result have a better understanding of myself and others. One thing that happened when Howard passed away was extreme sadness and grief which greatly conflicted with my hopes and the feelings of freedom his death gave me. I believe that conflicting emotions are normal during the loss of the significant person in your life and we waste too much time feeling guilty about it. It is a horrible situation to be in, you are trying to let go of them, the life you shared, move on with your life and remember and miss them at the same time. It is a tall order, the letting go and holding on to their memory all at once.

Life is full of conflicting emotions, challenges, joy and miraculous moments. We choose how we respond to that! I allowed my anger to take over for a short period but could not sustain it for long, it was killing my soul. The anger did serve its purpose for that period of time and I am thankful that I experienced it. The anger taught me a lot and may have been the catalyst for the softening that happened. I have a softness for myself and my struggles and have started behaving in a more gentle manner towards others. I do not know, nor should I presume to know how others should be under any circumstance. We just need people to allow us the space to work through it in our own way. We all need that space to learn and grow.

Having the ability and desire to look objectively at yourself and your reactions to the world and circumstance is a priceless learning opportunity. You can allow theses things to harden you and I believe that the people who feel as though these things have happened to them will harden. Life is happening to them, they are not active participants in their own life, the surface of the why of things is barely scratched. When you take the time to look deeper with an attitude of discovery and wonder it is amazing to see the layers and depths of the pain and untruths. My anger was there to insulate me from the pain and fear. But in insulating myself from the grief, pain and fear, I also insulated myself from fully experiencing all the good, the joy, the hope and the wonder. It is a double edged sword, anger is, that closes your heart off so you don’t feel anything.

I sat in this living room the day I started this blog and had an awakening of sorts. I fell in love with my life and could see how all the emotions, both conflicting and complimentary, were connected. I will call this a spiritual awakening simply because I experienced my own soul breaking free from all of the constraints my mind and beliefs had placed upon it. I was free in a way I had never been, I was free to just be. No rules, no right and wrong, just me naked in my humanity. I have great hope for humanity and know that people just like me are having awakenings of their own in the most mundane of places. Our quiet strength is far more powerful than the anger and fear being spewed out of so many minds and angry hearts at the moment. Living with your heart wide open allows you to feel everything and that can be a scary place to live from. It is painful and my heart breaks on a daily basis but my heart with it’s wide open embrace also gets to experience all the joy and wonders of being human in this time and place.

Be gentle

Donna

Rhythm

Six in the morning, frogs are singing spring into existence and it is warm with rain falling softly to the earth. What a glorious day to be alive. Woke up this morning feeling grateful for all that I have experienced and the people I have met. Thinking about a trip just to get away and relax. I’m not sure if I can swing some time away in the sun at the moment but I have a brand new passport just begging to be used. We shall see what the next week brings and how much I can get done. Universe I need a vacation could you please help things fall into place for this to happen. Thanks in advance!

I do not like asking people for help and have had to do it a lot lately. I am used to being the one helping others. So I have a garage sale to organize, a house that is sold and needs to be cleaned out, my new place to set up and all I want to do is lay on the beach in Costa Rica. I guess I am going to need some help to swing it. I find lots of people offer to help but a number of them don’t usually come through in the end. My suggestion, don’t offer to help people if you are not willing or able to follow through. Don’t offer because it is the polite thing to do. Mean what you say and say what you mean!

I sit here in this half empty house with its bare walls and my mind and heart are flooded with memories. The laughter, the tears, the lives that have passed through here and all the dreams that came true and the ones that got destroyed. This house has been truly lived in. New people and events are creating some more memories as I let go of the place I have called home for for the last twelve years. It is more than just a house, it vibrates with the energy of the lives lived here and has a personality all its own. The enclosed overhang of the roof has been home to a bird family for the last three years and I never had the heart to close off the area where they built their nest and started their family. I can hear the babies squawking, as I sit in my chair, and the feet of the parents scuttling back and forth to feed their constantly hungry brood. I got to see the babies on their first flight and it was magical.

One late afternoon last summer I sat on a rock by the large front pond looking to see how many fish were visible. We put a few dozen gold fish in there every year but few survive the wildlife and circumstance. I saw three that were about two years old and then five little one year olds swam by and my heart filled with joy. I was so excited to see that five had survived the year. You know how you get that feeling on the back of your neck when someone is watching you. That happened to me and I turned around and got to witness a fawn slide to the ground as a doe gave birth. I sat there and watched as the mother cleaned it and the baby took it first shaky steps with some gentle nudging. It was a beautiful moment and tears were running down my face. Outside life was bursting forth and Howard was in the house fighting for his life and losing the battle. No matter what is going on in our lives the earth and all her inhabitants continue on, not knowing what you are experiencing or how much your heart aches. How can joy and despair live in my body and be experienced at the same time?

Like all things nothing is permanent, not your circumstances nor your emotions. Whatever you are feeling now is temporary and bad days only last one day. Don’t hold on to things, people, emotions or ways of being. Allow them all to flow in and out of your life like they naturally do. Hanging on to any of it only chokes the life out of you in the end and crushes the joyous moments in your tightly closed fist. There is a rhythm to life and yes even death. So dance and dance like you mean it.

Peace and love to you all
Donna

Mental What?

When I was twenty three I got married and moved from the only home I had ever known on the east coast all the way across the country to Vancouver Island. I also suffered my first panic attack shortly after that. I thought I had a heart attack and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital where they declared me physically fine, said it was just a panic attack and sent me home. I had no idea at that time that anxiety and the associated panic attacks were going to lead me on a painful and wonderful journey of discovery.  At one point in my late twenties these attacks were so bad that I could not leave the house on my own. My own territory, my home, was a safe place where I could control the environment and who entered it.  Just going across the parking lot to get lunch at work was a walk of extreme discomfort. At work I was fine, at home I was fine, or was I? I had trouble breathing, got frequent chest pains, headaches, suffered from severe stomach issues and the list goes on. Living in a constant state of fear is hard on you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Living in a constant state of anxiety is like being slowly buried alive and not being able to do anything about it, you are frozen with fear.

I did not get my drivers liscence until I was in my thirties and still deal with panic attacks when I have to drive somewhere that I am not familiar with, though the severity of them has lessened over time. I have to tell you that I have driven across most of Canada now, woohoo!  I would like to be able to tell you that there was one magic thing that fixed it all but there was not. It was a whole bunch of little things learned and ways of being that were incorporated into my life in small increments that helped. I also had help from professionals and non professionals. I also encourage anyone with any type of problem to reach out for help. Apparently some would consider this to be a form of mental illness, though I do not label myself in that way. From what I have seen over the years everyone suffers from some form of mental illness even if it is just an grossly overblown sense of self importance.  Just take a look at the Trump disaster that is going on with our neighbours to the south. Do you think he is displaying any level of sane thought or action, or the country as a whole is thinking with their right mind?  We are seeing only a small part of the picture. The anxiety and panic attacks are only a small part of you, though they can take over your life. I think as a society we are too caught up in labels. Every one has felt fear, anxiety and panic at some point in their lives. For some of us the dance with them lasts longer and for others the dance only ends with their death. Please reach out to people and keep reaching out until you find someone that you can relate to. I have worked extremely hard to get to the point I am at today, so I understand the struggles people face. Their struggles might not be exactly the same, but if we focus on the differences there will never be any understanding of the other.  I won’t lie it will not be easy.  Nothing worth having ever is.  You are worth it so fight, dig, cry, scream, but do the work.  You. Are. Worth. It.

I did not expect to write this post and quite frankly I am not all that comfortable doing it, but once again the universe compels me to speak. Okay universe I will go with this, but know I am not happy about it. This makes me vulnerable and I know based on previous experiences that I will be judged by some people and loved by others for my honesty and candor. I have no control over how others will react to this. I want you to know that most of these panic attacks and severe anxiety episodes have taken place in private. I still have them happen in public and this is when I say slightly inappropriate things or my behaviour seems a bit off. I laughed so hard at a funeral that I had to get up and leave, people thought I was sobbing in grief and I was almost peeing my pants with laughter! Yup, I’m a giggle at a funeral. Sometimes I look away from you when I am speaking to collect myself and so you do not see the pain or anxiety. Most of you don’t notice. People who know me socially, may be surprised by this post. Those who know me on an intimate level have seen me struggle, overcome, struggle again and grow and grow and glow.  Little typo there but I’m going to keep the glow, I like it.  It fits.

What do you think when you hear the words mental illness? It sends shivers up my spine let me tell ya. I want nothing to do with that. I had a friend who was a psychologist and I had a chat with him one day. I told him that I thought I might be crazy and gave him a few examples of why I thought this.  He told me nope you are just human and the secret is that the really crazy ones would never even question their sanity, they are the serial killers, the Hitler’s of the world and the ones with no thought of anyone or anything but themselves. God, I loved that man and miss him still. Thanks John for helping me realize my humanity was showing and heal myself.   I loved his down to earth perspective on life and am grateful for the short time I got to spend with him.

So our societal and medical systems love labels but labels don’t take into account that we are so much more than just that and capable of so much more than we ever thought possible.  I think that what I am supposed to remind you of today is that you are so much more. You are so much more than your fears, insecurities, doubts and struggles. You are also enough, more than enough and much more lovable than you believe. Your ability to heal is also far greater than you have been led to believe. You are uncomfortable and fearful for a reason. Get help and discover the reason. There is always an underlying reason. Do not be afraid of uncovering what lies underneath.  I know it is extremely difficult and I would hold your hand through it if I could. The truth of it all will set you free from the prison that anxiety has you caged in. Today I will leave you with a poem that I wrote a few years ago about a crystal called sodalite. I had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to write the poem down so I could go back to sleep. The stone wanted to speak. This dark blue stone is related to your voice, throat chakra and speaking your truth. My wish for each of you is that you are always provided with the help you need and you live your truth with love and compassion. I also hope you find your voice and use it to help others.  Much love to all of you.

 

Cold, blue, stone of truth

Release the bonds of silence

That fear has wrapped

Around my soul

The truth inside me is released

With quiet strength

I find my voice

In the middle of my thoughts and feelings

My hearts sings with freedom

Arms raised to the night

I dance with my tears

Under a cold, blue, sky

Reach out and hug someone

Judge none

Donna

 

Crones, Warriors and Kangaroos

Did you know that kangaroos cannot move backwards only forward? I woke up at my usual time this morning and the blog post started forming in my mind. Then I fell back to sleep and had a dream about kangaroos. I cannot remember the blog post that had started forming, all I can think about is kangaroos. When the universe puts something in my path or my mind I pay attention to it, well most of the time anyway. So what information does the kangaroo have for me? I think I hit on the message with the first sentence, forward momentum only. I can’t go backwards though I can cause myself a lot of suffering by living in the past in my mind. Okay, universe forward it is.

The other thing that popped into my mind this morning while I waited for coffee was spiritual warriors and the feminine energies maiden, mother and crone (read wise woman). I think most self aware women are spiritual warriors. According to Wikipedia, “The term spiritual warrior is used in Buddhism for one who combats the universal enemy: self-ignorance (avidya), the ultimate source of suffering according to Buddhist philosophy.[1] A heroic being with a brave mind and ethical impulse. Different from other paths, which focus on individual salvation, the spiritual warrior’s only complete and right practice is that which compassionately helps other beings with wisdom.” I would have to say I know a few of these people and they can be any age, race, or sex. So why does that term keep popping into my head? I realize that the term warrior is mostly associated with war but in this case it is more about the internal war that takes place inside of each of us. It takes experience, training, discipline and heart to be a spiritual warrior and offer yourself to the world.

I don’t think of myself as a spiritual warrior at this point, I describe myself more as a crone. The word crone seems to have a negative connotation to it and images of wrinkled old women with warts on their nose comes to mind but perhaps we just need to change our perspective. In years gone by the crones, in a lot of cases, were the ones who held the knowledge and helped people. They were the healers, the counsellors, midwives, the wise women who had the life experience and self awareness to be all of these things. You enter the crone stage after menopause which despite the way western society has medicalized it, is still a natural process. I am lucky enough to have had the experience of it naturally. Was it always fun and pain free? Not a chance but I knew what was going on and never sought out medical treatment for it. We have turned most female natural transitions into medical issues. Painful menstrual cycles, childbirth, menopause, there is a pill, surgery or hormone cream for that. Yes the medical system has saved a lot of lives and I am not bashing it, but when did giving birth and menopause become viewed as medical conditions instead of a natural ones. There are tools to aid you as you go through these stages and the wise women have known them for years. My grandmother’s recommendation of a certain tea for menstrual cramps was far more effective than the prescription the doctor gave me.

In this youth obsessed society we are overlooking the value and beauty of the crone! We have been there, done that and have much to share. If our society has no heart how can we hope to survive? We cannot go backward and change any of it but we can move forward and be part of the changes that are coming. Even western medicine is taking small steps in the direction of treating the whole person and is incorporating Reiki, meditation, spiritual practices, among other things into their system. It is happening slowly but it is starting to gain momentum. I am greatly excited by this! I take responsibility for my health and use food, herbs, essential oils, Reiki, crystals, energetic therapies etc to maintain it but seek out medical attention for things as well. I think our future is a beautiful combination of natural healing and medical science. They diagnosed my painful kidney stones but I turned to a crone to get rid of them, rather then wait a painful month for the second test needed in our medical system. The crone’s remedy helped me within three days and it didn’t even taste too bad. My doctor asked me what I used and when I told him his response was, “My grandmother swears by that!” I have also tweaked my daily food sources so my body does not create more painful stones.

So be a spiritual warrior and use your self awareness to help others. Embrace the crone and or warrior in you and others. Be the best you that you can be and spread the love and knowledge. We have much to offer each other but it does not happen without heart. Spiritual warriors walk the earth with their heart wide open and change the world one human connection at a time. These connections add up! One person cannot save the world but continued small actions of love and compassion from each of us can. Love each other, the earth and all her inhabitants until there is no one and no thing left that needs healing, then we can dance. Thanks to all the warriors and crone’s that paved this new path for us that is based on our past but not stuck in it.

 

Dance with each other!

Love everyone

Donna