Saturday, May 17, 2014

Reverb#14 for May -- cleaning house

Spring cleaning | How are you cleaning out your life and cleaning out your writing in preparation for a new season?  Reflect.  Photograph.  Think.

Huh. I don't really do 'spring' cleaning, I do 'when the clutter fairy strikes me' cleaning. I sort through my closet twice a year when I bring seasonal stuff into the main closet, and always have bags of things I no longer wear or like -- funny how that works. Sometimes it takes me a few years to discard something that I theoretically like but somehow don't wear. Ditto with shoes -- perfectly good shoes, but I don't wear them....and eventually they get passed on to someone or put in a donation bag.

Unfortunately medical issues have for the last couple of years prompted me to think about my life and make changes in what no longer works or serves my best interests. Like caffeine: I like my morning cup of coffee black and strong, but with recurring atrial fibrillation, I have finally decided that it doesn't help minimize those episodes, so now I'm getting used to decaf or herbal tea in the morning and the occasional decaf coffee.

Another huge change I made starting late last fall was to relinquish my responsibilities as my daughter's disability payee. For a variety of reasons that had caused me tremendous stress and angst, and also was not good for our relationship. She now has a company payee and I am completely out of that loop. When we speak or get together now, conversation does not center on money.

To keep my head squarely in a decent place during all this medical challenge stuff, I've gone back to the energy exercises I used more than a year ago in preparation for ankle surgery: grounding every day and focusing on bringing in good energy. Oprah and Deepok Chopra offered a free 21-day meditation series during this time which I did pretty faithfully, and it also helped a lot, especially with the mantras. I've downloaded several meditation podcasts to my iPod and have used them to help me relax and sleep at night, but also intend to build that into my daily routine as I did with the Oprah ones.

As I come across things that are no longer useful to me, or that someone else might benefit from having, I have given them away or set them aside. But this is not seasonal...this is ongoing, and will be, I suspect, for a long time to come. We both are determined to tackle the attic next winter when it is cool again and discard old files and things we stored there for lack of a better place to put them.

I have lived in this house longer than I lived anywhere. My parents lived in the same house in Missouri for 40 years, but I was there only for eight before I left for college, and then lived there in the summers until I married four years later. Mother was really good at clearing out clutter and collaborated with her friends to hold a huge garage sale yearly. It's time to get better at letting things go, especially things I will not miss at all.

The writing I do anymore is right here on this blog. I don't know that there will ever be the book I thought there would be. I don't know that the memoirs I thought I might write will ever get written, at least in some sequential format. Part of that is because of the enormous marketing effort an author must make during the publishing process, either through traditional publishers or by self-publishing. That seems too much like WORK to me, and I don't know that I am dedicated enough to do it, and question if publishing is really as important to me as I once thought it was. So for now, what I'm writing is posted here. And right now, the blog readership is pretty low -- but neither am I promoting it on websites or even in my signature lines, just because this writing is really for me, and if someone likes it and finds it helpful, that's great too.

Things can change. That much I know is true. For now, I'll work on the physical decluttering, for along with that comes the mental clearing too.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

April Moon: Day 15 -- One


What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?

One can be a single entity or concept, a solitary figure, not paired with anything else. But it also can imply that many (thoughts, people, ideas, entities) are combined into ONE unit, usually for some purpose in business or political action or education or government.

Everything begins with One as well; it is the basis. One individual reaches to another for something, which multiplies the One. At the end, there is still only One.

We are all ONE in our human-ness. We are born One, we die One. Many individuals live as One unit households. Essentially we are uniquely One.

Combine even for a brief time with others to accomplish a task, attend a class, rally for a cause, even live in a town, and all those individual Ones  become a multiple One.

This is society. This is how we live, nearly all of us.

What it means is that we do not have to be a solitary One unless we so choose to isolate. And while there are times we all need to do just that, we are still social beings and yearn to connect with other Ones, to find the common spark, the energy of connection. In so doing, our Ones become ONE.

All spiritual roads lead to One Universal Truth, although there are many names for that One, and many paths to follow.

 One is do-able, especially on days where more than that is overwhelming.  One Day At A Time.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

April Moon 14; Day 14 Comfort


What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you? 

Comfort: anything that makes you feel better about your immediate circumstances, be they physical, emotional, mental. Comfort is what mamas do to their children when they're crying or have an owie, even when the child is also an adult. Unless your mama was a real piece of work, we long for our mothers when we are sad, hurt, sick, alone. Even when mama really can't do much, just hearing the soft 'there, there,' has a calming effect -- and while friends and loved ones can help, nothing substitutes for your mama.

These days I have to imagine my mama's words, her arms around me, and yes, I can vividly remember the last time: it was not long before she died, and she was so fragile and tiny, sitting in her lift  recliner in the nursing home. I sat on the floor in front of her and put my head in her lap and my arms reaching around her hips, and she stroked my hair and just loved on me. I don't remember what ... or even if ... I had said, but I knew I needed that. We both knew her time was coming to a close.

When I call my angels to me to help me through a rough situation, I think one of them must be my mother. They don't have faces or distinguishable features or voices, really, but there is a presence that is very real, and it is comforting and strengthening. I feel softness -- feathers, perhaps? -- near me, but calm strength mostly.

Certain foods can be comfort too -- tuna noodle casserole or biscuits and honey are completely comfort food to me. Mashed potatoes (which I almost never fix) is another, and tapioca pudding. Some days just the smell of coffee and bacon and toast in the kitchen evokes those childhood days when I would wake to those smells and find my daddy cooking breakfast in the kitchen while Mother was getting ready for the day.

Taking naps wrapped in a favorite afghan is a comforting feeling, especially on Sunday afternoons, the window shades pulled and the room darkened, and add in two sleepy cats and a loving spouse, and it doesn't get much better.

We all need something to comfort us sometimes, no matter our age. And we should not feel self-conscious about asking for what we need, doing for ourselves what will help us. This is a long journey, if we are blessed, and we do need to pay attention to what our mind and body is telling us that we need.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

April Moon 14: Day 12-13 -- Flow and Curious


What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?

Everything is going exactly as it should be going, one thing into another into another, all building on what has come before and what is going on, and effortlessly. That's flow. That's not how my life usually goes, however.

While I have definitely been there, in flow, more often it feels jerky, starts and stops and backups and restarts. I have to think about where to go next, how to proceed. And I spend a fair amount of time figuring out how I really feel about what is happening in whatever moment I'm in. And sometimes I just let go, and then things just happen. Huh.

I read a quote the other day, attributed to a Zen proverb, that said "Let go or be dragged." I can let go, but then I so often grab it back and try to control things again, and yes, I've been dragged along....often. That certainly impedes flow.

When I think of flow, I envision the perfect Sun Salutation: hands to the sky, then down to the floor, then into a downward dog, to plank, to cobra, back to downward dog, then hands up. I can do that, but it is slow and awkward right now, moving my out-of-shape muscles and achey joints in anything approaching a flow. So I try it anyway, as much as I can, and try to feel it inside me.

To obtain flow within -- which certainly contributes to flow outside me .... I have been working on capturing energy, cultivating meditation, that quiet, focused state which calms and clarifies. It helps in every way to make my days better, brighter, less 'sticky.' It is a practice, which means I must work at it consistently in order to get better at it. Some days are good.


What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?

Oh, I wanna know stuff. I have always been curious and maybe a bit snoopy. Okay, maybe more than a bit. As a child, I listened a lot and learned things, or at least bits of things, about my parents, my brother, my friends, people at church, teachers, classmates. I watched them too, not in a creepy way, but because I was curious about why they acted as they did. When I babysat, I'd observe houses: how people chose to decorate, how much attention they paid to cleaning and being tidy, what was in their refrigerators or pantries, their bathroom. What did the kids do? What were the bedtime rituals? I was never inappropriate, mind you -- I was a reliable sitter who liked kids and cleaned up messes -- but I did observe.

My daughters will say I ask too many questions, too many of them too personal. They're probably right. I want to know the story, the whole story, not just the bits they want to feed me. Even if it is ugly and uncomfortable, I have always wanted to know the whole truth, and I am a reasonably good internet sleuth and can find out all kinds of tidbits that may not tell the whole story, but that provide some good clues.

Maybe it's because I'm a reader and a writer. The more I know, the better I can write a good story. The more I know, the more I understand about the situation, and the more it reveals about the characters.

It's not just personal stuff, though. I spent a lot of my youth browsing through public libraries, drifting through the stacks and pulling off books that interested me, sometimes sitting right there on the floor surrounded by a stack of books, reading. If a subject caught my attention, I wanted to know everything I could find about it. If an author appealed to me, I'd read my way through his/her published works. (Often still do...)

The iPad is my library now and it lives by my living room chair. Sure, I use it for email and Facebook, but in the course of watching a show or movie, I will often search for information on the featured actors ("What have we seen him in?!) or how many episodes there are left, or the setting, or the plot....I'm curious. I want to know, and I love the instant gratification the Internet gives me these days.

My doctors know that I consult Dr. Google about my medical questions too, probably more than they would like. Oh, I bring lists of questions to them, but they are formed from what I have been reading. (The danger there is getting TOO involved in it and stressing about symptoms or complications that are not mine....)

I hope I'm always curious. I've reined in the questions I ask my children these days and try to let the conversation flow as it will, knowing very well that they must follow their own paths through life, and that there are a lot of things I do not need to know about their choices. But I still ask, I still search, I still speculate .... and I still write. When you are curious, you cannot be bored. I am never bored.