Getting Lost in Control Mode

As I was pulling weeds this morning, it hit me. It was a special effects, explosion of color energy, transportation to the centre of observer seeing so clearly how I operate moment.
When I see me, I know it is a true “vision” when it is not a harsh, judgemental, OCD perfectionism, adult watching rebellious teenagerish tinted vision.

We see through our own shadow.

I tried to pull the invasive plant from the hardened soil and it broke off in my hands. And then I stood careful not to crush a “real” flower. I was barefoot in the dress a bed and breakfast guest left for me.

I walk around with it on, lately, most of the day. I put on no bra, do not brush my hair and get up straight out of bed to do my work. I have over a 100 guests a month to prepare for.

And so I stood in the silky, modest dress without any attempt to seem like anything.

“I use the walls as a defence.”

As a child having a dangerous father who let me know at any time he could kill me if I was not compliant; having a dangerous father whose body was inhabited by a kaleidoscope of six rotating personalities had left me wary.
The one thing I could do once I left home was to refuse.

At home, I could never refuse. It would cost me my life.

living in the structure

It left me singularly alone. The nine years I spent in University were spent by and large in a library.

The orderly books were my defensive structures. There was quiet. No one could suddenly begin screaming in anger or pain in a library. There were no games. A book was checked out, checked in and read within certain parameters.

My safety, my sanity, my ability to grow depended on my controlling the gates of my existence.

I went through four roommates my first year of college because I refused to engage. The head of the dormitory called me in to see why they kept leaving me.

Trust was a foreign concept to me. Withdrawing into silence, into long midnight walks on a deserted campus, into ideas and books and biographies of others’ lives served me well.

Added to the taint of trauma was the fact that I was an empath which meant that just walking into a room filled with people would be strenuous. That woman over there bend over her drink has been battered. The loud, heavy man is carrying so much grief it almost dissolves my own body.

And so I controlled any contact that I had with others. I had to go to work. I had to make money and function in the world but I was an actress.

I had learned early on that crying at my desk in second grade would only lead to the bully gang finding me at lunch time and circling me to beat me. They would turn the zippers of their jackets outward and strike me with them until the zippers left welts.
One does not cry when one is beaten at home because there is no room for solace in the school.

Chickens see the spot of blood and will go after the weak one. This is what I learned in primary school.

For three months of the year I could not go to school because the bruises were too telling. Someone would know. I must not betray the family.

I was taught that when I was the most injured, I must hide it.

I became an actress. My shining intelligence, my feigned self confidence, and my carefully built muscular body made the struggle invisible to those around me.

creating a strong body image.

And I could always control who was around me.

I could always refuse to answer the phone; refuse to go to the party; refuse to join a group. It was how I survived.

I will be 73 years old in August. As I stood in the garden in the silky dress without having undergone any morning rituals of artificiality, I saw that my way of dealing with my experiences was neither mistaken nor unnecessary.

Bare feet on the ground, a broken off weed in my hand, I said to myself, “This is where you are now.”

There was no need to grade my “performance.”

I am just here to learn. And maybe it is time to stop hiding who I am.

That thought felt good.

Blindness. Walking in confidence

Spiritual blindness clouds my vision at times. I keep returning to the programmed scripts of scarcity, competition, victimhood and this flat paper doll world construct where in we are standing in our underwear waiting for some outside source to dress us up. The giant hand will cover the shame of who we are without acceptable stylish cover. The controlling hand will give us the fabric of status. We will be anointed by validation. We will be absolved of our denuded humanity by the powerful outside authority.

The distance between where we believe we can go and where we can get to belief is always something I am aware of. Like someone walking in a mirage desert projecting in a landscape of oasis, my programmed reality is at odds with that which my spirit knows to be true.

The big work for me is to release the struggle. How do I go from what I am now to what I know myself capable of being? Where is the map? What are the instructions? Am I supposed to read it by the full of the moon or with a candle held behind it so I can see the tracings of the journey?

Like some lost, skitterish animal, meditation finds me stuck in a gully, or trapped under loose scree. Meditation brings me back to the container of now, of breath, of body, of allowing all of the fear-pain-anger to just exist in now.

we live in a grid

What my practice has done for me is to allow me to push the “Start Over” button. I have also found that sitting silence or chanting until my tears fall without check allows me to be loving to myself. I return to my intention to stay in the experience of growth.

In the past, I was in a self created classroom not unlike the one my mother described in the 1930’s. When she made a mistake, the ruler marks raised welts on her hands. When she did not learn at a rate or at a predetermined level of performance, she had to sit on a tall stool wearing a tall hat.

In the past, I was in the classroom of perfectionism and I was brutal and unforgiving of myself.

Meditation allows me to push the re-set intention button. I start again. I view myself with loving kindness. Because I have come to understand that being human is basically a bitch, I know to be kind. Because I have come to appreciate that being born into a body IS the hell we all fear mistakenly fear in the afterlife, I have come to be more compassionate to all of us.

William James knew

One time when I was in Floatspace, I saw the souls as lights. They were in the waiting room between lives and each one chose to come down the shoot of energy into his or her mother. Each one made the commitment to come to earth and agree to be born. As I floated in the salt water, I saw a hundred thousand lights travelling to earth to agree to enter a body. They agreed to suffer pain, face death, walk in the mass delusion of whatever their culture had constructed because they wanted to learn.

We see what we believe

It takes my breath away, the bravery of souls. We are here to learn. I am here to learn. And it is through meditation that I can keep my focus and like an adventurer ask the question: What is the real map?

I get lost. I stumble. I forget to be grateful. But I know that this life is where it all happens. It is where we truly learn to love.

How to Live in Interesting Times

These are not trivial times. You would have to have been abducted and put in some shed, bunker, outback hill hollowed out captive at random especially built structure to be unaware.

 

Every beautiful thing is here

It is a time of triggered, reactive, defensive, spewing of fear. So many are feeling like their nervous systems have been tasered and as they finish their convulsions of neurological energy epilepsy, they lay limp looking around for WHO did that. They find some post on facebook, or twitter, or snapchat or some news source and attach all of their explosive overload onto that one thing.

The other day a troll fight broke out about Oprah and Weight waters. What was her motivation? Was she altruistic? Was she simply marketing? God help us all if we can’t believe in the Oprah Ministry of Follow Me.

I put up a response as I watched some insisting that Oprah was being disrespected and attacked by others’ comments. Reading through the thread again, I saw not one disrespectful comment. I was curious.

Then I got it. Good lord the media is corrupt. We have to cover our heads to protect ourselves from the revelations that most of the structures, systems, institutions, inculcated belief systems are mind prisons and simply not reliable. We are like a partner in a marriage that has been betrayed and can no longer believe in anyone.

People are like children. The safety corner is gone. The sanctuary is a myth. Daddy is a monster and has committed atrocities that we weep to see.

So what is left? The limbic system is running the show. We have four choices when we are in rapid foaming at the mouth fear states: fight, flight, fornicate, feed.

The cracks mean reformation

And so people are triggered instantaneously. They are having trouble with insomnia. They are experiencing neurological diseases for some yet unexplained reason. They are walking around with a skin crawling type of anxiety.

Blaming themselves works for a while and then they look outward.

The question becomes, “Who is attacking me now?”
How else do you explain the tsunami of cortisol flowing through the society?

What if the crow were yellow?

So we attack one another. Somebody out there is doing this to me. Something out there is doing this to me. And then the eyes squinch up and they fall upon somebody who is attacking the vestiges of faith they still manage to cling to.

Oprah… no. I will fight for this symbol of light and truth.

I joking said that people are so triggered at the present time and so engaged in verbal fist fights on social media that I dare not post I like sweet pickles.

Somebody will come on the thread and say only garlic dill pickles are real and good. Sweet pickles are chemical, GMO, owned by a devil company, poisoning heavy lead mercury nano robot bone marrow depleting.

And heaven protect us all if I had said olives are the best.

And so we have become like children or frightened animals and race around looking for someone else to blame for the clearly and truly chaotic energy place the world occupies today.

Now more than ever, we are called upon to ground ourselves and become mindful. To see the flash of fear energy entering the body or leaving the body is to be in a place where you are no longer a victim.

It is what meditators strive for. It is what paramedics strive for. The calm understand that people are hurt right now will allow you to be able to see everything with the higher brain function. Instead of being a victim, you can become an emergency worker. You can show up with love. You can show up with compassion. It is what we are being called to do.

And I have no emotion around Oprah, pickles, which music group is the best. The heated debates are the result of marauding gangs of victims looking for a way to release fear. It is unnecessary.

The result is a population that is more fearful and more easily manipulated.

Sit down. Meditate. Check your body. Everything you need that allows you to grow up is right there.

You eat whatever pickles or olives you wish listening to any music that makes you vibe high and learn to believe in yourself and your instincts. There is no Daddy or Mommy. We are grown ups.

Fresh Snow Christmas wonderland

Christmas ribbons my neighbours tied on my fence for me as a surprise.

The joy of living in a neighbourhood for over twenty years is reinforced after a fresh snowfall. Not only are we suddenly transmitted into a movie set from the 1930’s with the fluffing up, puffing up branches holding the voluptuous white but we are called to go outside and play in it.

blue snow

The adult version of play is to shovel the sidewalk, brush off the car and dig out short bull dozed entry ways and exits for the car.

I step out the door and feel an excitement to be able to stand in such a beautiful place. The old trees planted in the 1950’s were once all along the street but some have survived. Some stand arching over the sidewalk, framing the vanishing point of the end of the street five blocks away. It is an unadulterated exquisite moment.

down the street

I slide my yellow plastic shovel along the walk way to clear a path for the phantom visitors in my mind. Only the mail person usually comes to the house but it is almost time for my winter guests to appear in my bed and breakfast.

Being careful not to catch the shovel edge on the ridge seam in the cement, I move the new snow in one long swipe in front of three houses. And then I begin to clear what will be only this amount of time from the layers of snow. More will come. There is no sense of staying clear, being done. There is just the walking and rhythmic sweep of the shovel.

My neighbour comes out of his house and he begins to sweep off my car. We talk about the one legged crow sitting in the tree overhead that his wife keeps alive by feeding it. We talk about the widower pigeon that my neighbour has named but I can’t remember what exactly. I know the pigeon by his color, shape and markings.

My neighbour talks to the pigeon and to the crow and promises them food as soon as he is done. But he is having fun. He moves down the block clearing other people’s landholding sidewalks because his shovel is filling up. He leaves a mark revealing cement not twenty minutes from the time I have cleared the area.

Christmas ribbons my neighbours tied on my fence for me as a surprise.

When I go into the house, I feel good. The conversation was not begun. It began almost 20 years ago when we talked over the fence from spring to fall. It is on going, effortless.

When I next go out, I see the footprints of the pigeon spinning out from the circle of bird seed. And further down the one foot print from the crow by the pile of peanuts.

More snow is falling, and the trees are holding it close. It is Christmas.

When weather becomes the truth

Sometimes we live in our heads, or in our past, or are lost in a scripted narrative someone else has penned. But when each of us opens the door and the percussive wall of cold strikes the entire body, all of the accompanying orchestration of violin thoughts stops. There is only the skin taking the temperature.

 

extreme weather

The frozen patterns like faces press against the windows partially imprinted on the car. It isn’t until the extreme falls away after turning on the heater that I go back into the droning, circle patterned of flying thoughts.

Part of the pleasure of walking the icy sidewalk into the howling wind is the weather itself bringing me into the breathing moment. I hear my lungs at work. I see the air warming and steaming out of me. The cold is slapping me out of it. I am only this step, this foot, this warm boot, this creature moving on the ground.

And when I was in Peru and laid in the hammock, I ran sweat slipping my body surfaces like waterfalls on a sculptured hillside. The walk up the path would begin with the skittling thoughts but as I shoved myself against the moist, hot air I recognized that the trailing end of a narrative had melted and disappeared. With several more steps I would begin again but the line of thought dissolved even earlier on until I was released from any interest except my breath and the wall of opposition the tropics pushed against my progress. At times, I felt I was behind myself trying to catch up with the place my body had now moved into.

Extremes of weather hold some fundamental truth. There is only the body, the skin, the breath, the intention of movement and it leaves us free of the embroidered speculations in the mind. It stops us cold.

A Full Moon and Mortality

It is a time of sadness. I am sleeping deeply with the comfort of my habitual sadness blanket wrapping me alone. I am a mummy in my bed, the cold air cracking in my window strokes my face.

meditation on Christmas
The Ice full moon burns cold in the empty sky and next door my neighbours have colored lights strung on every branch in their yard. They are unafraid of child wonder excess in their unfenced territory.
I have a single ornament swinging from the hook meant to cradle newspapers. The gold star is all that I have left from what I threw out when I changed my life.
Under the fat moon the snow was blue, last night, and sequined. But I could not capture my reality with my camera as I stood there. It would not read whether I stood or crouched.
Reaching out. Not reaching out. All the same, my ego tells me. I am a vessel sink and the memories pass through me like water carried away somewhere I cannot know. The seven families that I have passed through are present at Christmas.

Just now, I lack the fire to excite myself. Teaching myself patience day by day, I sit meditation and feel into my thoughts like breath, like water passing in and through me.
I watch the desire for the perfect self appear and pass away.
And I listen to my ego chastising me for the errors that I insist upon repeating.
I wrestle with the desire not to wrestle with my thoughts and simply drop my eyes to feel so much grief for being human. The grief of yearning for more than I could possibly hold in my own two fists is singing to me.
The mind keeps making list maps to glory.

 
I watch and endure the waiting for the end of waiting. I think of the magnificent sparkler moments when I just burst into the light an ecstasy moment of love.
I am sitting waiting for passion to carry me out of this frozen time, to carry me above the rigidness of anger. I endure the invasions of barbarian thoughts destroying everything in their path.

We create the self. We go beyond the self
I work on myself learning how to accommodate the chaos of being alive in a body in this time, at this time, marked by the franking of my sex, my family, my culture, my identification.

The only untainted goal is to be between restless desires for a split moment and let the tears like water flow from me, flow through me to clarify my vision so that I maybe present when I am called upon to love.
I sit and watch the invasions of my barbarian thoughts and forgive myself for being merely and so magnificently human.

Gathering thoughts like socks

It has been neither nor, not either or lately. The weather has caused the persistence of my flowers setting hopeful buds and the continued infill of grass in the bald spot in my lawn.

 

Trees heavy with no snow

Trees heavy with no snow

I have also been floating in some kind of bubble since I returned from Los Angeles for the Airbnb conference. There I was surrounded by 15000 other hosts and constant stimulation.

I followed my “open door” policy that I adhere to when I am travelling. If a door is open, I go in. I found an architecture school retrospective and a feminist film festival. The experience was delightful and I felt happy, excited and at home.

l-a-castle

Los Angels looks like a Castle in the distance

Getting back to Kelowna was less stimulating. I fell into distraction mode by watching netflix every evening.

So I am neither totally at home as I stretch out my desire fingers for more stimulus, nor ready to travel. It is an in-between state.

I find myself thinking a great deal about Christmas.

Christmas is, basically, about time. It is when we slide from past images of ourselves surrounded or trapped; supported or sabotaged by our immediate family.

Rituals are powerfully present. The old ornaments are dug out of boxes. The archived rituals like museum displays of half remembered or reconstructed narratives surround us.

Some try to recreate what went before and others like survivors of an undisclosed war suffer flash back intensity moments.

 

out my winter window

out my winter window

Another group tries to sand away the family chisled pictograph stories and start again.

The pressure from the societal mindset to experience the “most wonderful time of the year” leads to scarcity mind. Comparisons lurk everywhere. It is a time of the highest suicide rate in Western culture.

The chasm lies like an earthquake severed landscape between what we are told we “should” be experiencing and what we have actually experienced in our lives.

We react by mainlining… main landing on the sugar, fat, booze and entertainment surface. Or we jingle bell our credit cards to buy promises of pleasure.

We are desperate to cover up the crevassed split between that which we see in our own lives and the mythical saccharine made for TV movies.

But we do have the ability to walk about this shifting landscape and between the seasons with grace and skill.

We each find our own way forward to the place where our own version of the everyday super hero lives.

We can move away from the seasonal quaff from the cup of bitterness or booze. We can clear see the mindless expectation that are trying to script our decisions.

Getting to the next thing… the next season… the next stage of who we are becoming is an immense relief.

The question is: “Who am I now?”

“Who am I now?”

“Who am I now?”

We step as children into our own past and re-author all of it with every new thought.

Freedom to love comes from freedom from the old stories.

What is this time that now holds me?

The season moves to a wall of cold and winter shows up. Christmas shows up with so much possibility.

 

my livingroom sanctuary

my livingroom sanctuary

We are free to run towards others with a child like innocence and love. I am here. I showed up.

It is all new. It is all now. What fun.

Gathering Data

He or she stands aside from society, in order to observe, in order to understand what the “game” is that is going on. A writer, an artist moves from the position of “in the game” and then “out of the game.”

There is a certain solitude that is both a gift and a curse. It is like watching people eating poi in a joy filled ceremony and thinking, “That looks delicious.” However, after tasting the culturally infused dish, the artist is reinforced in the separateness. Poi is tasteless, joyless, unsatisfying.

So making the decision to be at peace with not being at peace is vital. Disabusing oneself that the idea of being “in ” the circle, or “out” of the circle of inclusion is the answer is an important step.

Byron Katie in her systematic analysis of thoughts calls it “The Work”. The important moment is when a person stands facing another and in that moment knows clearly what it is the individual wants from that other person.

to see the small details

I frequently ask: What are my expectations for being in my society; what are my expectations for being a cultural anthropologist who simply observes the behavioural choices?

So the being able to see the down to earth, the actual, the spinning out of actions based on the story of a culture is central to an artist’s life.  There is a deep feeling of loneliness that all artist-observers experiences. But it is a necessary vantage point in order to create out of a disengaged truth.

the underpass

It is frequently the artist/seers who were most out of tune with their own culture who propelled the society forward. Matisse was vilified. His vision became the norm.

Artists/writers/seers move in and out of society. Their lives cycle from boredom, to risk and excitement. They come to trust the inner compass more fully as they mature.

One has to trust that the path is created by the step forward. And there are always those well lit places with flat land where the group gathers and shares their maps. There are those inspiration stops where the exchanging of ideas are vitally energizing.

Finally, the question of “Do I fit in?” becomes irrelevant. And the question, “Who am I now?” becomes the call to clarity. The relationship with self calls for the practice of compassion in movement, or in stillness. All is correct. Just observe and witness.

Exhaustion and Anxiety

I am repeatedly grateful for the CBC and the information it brings into my little attic hideaway. This morning they featured a show about the book Exhaustion: A History.

 

 
The concept of exhaustion being a contemporary post-modern experience is one held far and wide in today’s culture. The exhaustion that takes contemporary focus is the Chronic form of psychological fatigue triggered by bio-chemicals in a fight or flight syndrome. Or that is what contemporary specialist believe it to be. So we buy into this definition.
However, Anna Katharina Schaffner, the author points out that the pervasiveness of weariness is nothing new.
Galen writes about it in antiquity. The Medieval period called it acidia or an excess of acid in the body which created a condition called melancholia. It was considered a sin and sloth was the result.
Hans Seyle who is the father of the research on stress and resultant depression was stressed himself when he could find nothing measurable about energy. He came to a standstill when he asked, “What is energy?” The only answer that has presented itself in the scientific field in Western science is the measure of calories.
What has been woven into the psyche of the modern cultural Akashi record belief is that there is ‘something out there that will steal our energy’.
The bottom line of the historical focus on the depletion of energy is, according to Schaffner, a belief in the waning of efficacy; a falling away of energy and vitality as we age.

But the real anxiety is about the approach of death.
So historically philosophers, medical scientists, social scientists, psychologists have danced around the changing presentation of exhaustion. For medieval times it was thought to be the humours; during the Victorian Era a blanket of lassitude was the result of invention, modernization and education of women.

wet, tired
Certain periods in history allowed only leisure classes the luxury of exhaustion and depression. However, today the world wide sense that this is the first time, this is the worst time for exhaustion with a sense of personal powerlessness is in error.
The fear of diminishment has been a constant in Western Culture since the age of Antiquity.
A big difference between Western Culture and Eastern Culture is the concept of a mechanistic “battery of energy” that loses its charge. In contrast to Eastern belief that Prana or Qi are replenishable sources.

Grounding in order to grow

Grounding in order to grow

 

The person who is feeling a diminishment can go to a practitioner and reconnect with source. Or the individual can go to a movement/breath practice mode which revitalizes the body and mind.
For me, the most interesting concept in the interview is that each person; each decade; each cultural moment is so intensified that we lose perspective.
The issue of facing one’s death, of having a healthy supportive connection to one’s body and of knowing we are not unique means that we can release the victim mode. We can see how connected we are to all who are alive on the earth and to all who have lived.

Once we understand that, we are able to move in the world with more compassion for ourselves and for others.
Thank you, CBC.

The “savings” account.

carrying shadowsI read in one of the many how to save your marriage books, while I was still hopeful, some interesting advice. (Obviously the methodology requires two so THAT didn’t work.) The coach-therapist suggested that the couple store up good feelings so that they could draw on them when it was necessary in times of stormy weather.
Coupled with my reading on discipline fatigue, I was thinking about designing a life strategy. As I did my daily five loads of laundry, hanging the purple sheet, I thought of how edgy and irritable I get when I stick to my check list, and work with a total focus on building new habits.
I kick like a four year old… “don’t want to”. The promise land of supportive habits is mapped out on my giant calendar check list pasted above my reading chair.
“But what happens when I am just plain tired of making myself do better, be better, push for bigger goals,” I thought as I hung the golden colored bed sheet.
It was then it hit me. I have a less than peaceful relationship with myself. There is tension between me, myself and I.

Basically, she is always dissatisfied and reaching for more. I make a plan… and the vast stretch of the day with undulating hours like some ocean or desert spreads before me. I am both overwhelmed and bored..
“What I need,” I advised myself, “what I need is more treasure in my treasure chest of good feelings.”
Bingo, bazat. There it is. That could help my primary relationship.
Instead of only allowing myself a beggar’s hoard of joyous moments, what if I went after them with intention in order to help out when I was just so done.

Saving positive moments

Saving positive moments

“But not just indulgences, “I remind myself. “You need to stick to the habit building plan.

I stood back and looked at the purple, golden, yellow and hot pink sheets waving on the line. Beautiful. So simply beautiful. I start with that image. I start now.