My Relationship with Food

Winter darkness closes in. The fog sits like a fat puffed out hen nesting on the top of the mountains surrounding the valley. The Maple leaves in my back yard are falling more like moulting this year than any Pre-Raphaelite depiction of staged, colorful drama.

Maple leaves drop suddenly

Maple leaves drop suddenly

And now is the time that facebook and twitter starts to show the “fix” for the season of impeding death. Brownies, bacon, bacon brownies. Turkey stuffed with bread and sausage. Thick fat and sugar layers glisten on the designer created mock food pictures that people are grabbing from the internet pantry and laying down on the status pages. “Here,” the words and images say, “here is how to cope with the dark, cold enclosed time of year.”

Food is one of our greatest distractions in North America. We want it fast and fat. As I travelled through the grocery store today, I marvelled at the plethora of prepared sauces, dips, spreads, soups which simply did not exist in my childhood.

We had Campbell’s Soup and then prepared spaghetti sauce. But the gourmet-pseudo amalgams that I saw today were far from our imaginations in the ’50’s and ’60’s.

My mother whose family was from England, wrapped everything in aluminum foil and allowed it to bake in the oven until the parsnips, carrots, potatoes and steak were largely indistinguishable from one another. As she got more daring into the ’60’s she would throw in celery and garlic. Good wholesome food cooked to beyond death. Yum. And you could eat it with a spoon.

I remember in the ’70’s when chips started to appear. The salty slices would be placed in a large punch bowl with dried soup (usually onion) mixed in with cream cheese as a dip. It was at this point that my mother’s size 4 body ballooned up to a size 16. Each time I returned home she was transformed. At night in the winter, the rain fell.

Her second marriage was not working out in the way she had hoped. This man was silent, withdrawn, uneducated and stood every evening at the back of the room chain smoking.

She had her fat and salt to keep her happy.

The evolution of my own fear/romance with food existed within the topography of both the societal shifts and the change in familial patterns.

As a baby, my mother tells me, I cried. I cried a lot for months. She told me she would force a bottle into my mouth to keep me quiet. I apparently did some kind of “damage” to her breasts so she could not nurse, she informed me.

At meal times, the tension meter went up to red rage. We would sit each to a side at the table and eat head down. It was in those moments when I would swallow each bite with sand like fear. My father’s temper could result in a chair being hurdled into a corner of the room. I remember distinctly when I said I did not like something and he shattered my plate on the wall next to my head. The blood ketchup wept down the wall.

As I grew older, my mother began to see me as competition. It was at this time that she spent considerable energy “feeding” me up. “Here, have some pie,” she would say with her eyes narrowing daring me to reject it. There was always more food than I could comfortably eat. I went from a size 6 to a size 12 by the time I left home.

She would always buy me clothing that was too big when I was a teenager. “Oh, you look that size,” she would say at Christmas or my birthday.

She was asked to be a model on the runway of several local fashion and hair dressing shows. Once when we were walking beneath a construction site when I was 13, high above us workers called out, “Hey there beautiful!” I looked up. “Not you,” the male voice said, “the other one.” My mother’s body small, trim, and attracting attention was something I lived with as she fed me up.

So today, I realize that my relationship with food is driven by past experiences. I do not enjoy sitting in a group eating. Anxiety, fear, a sense of vulnerability arise. In addition, the food that is offered in social settings is problematic. The result of having cancer is that I am now intolerant of many “common” foods.

Working on body, mind, food connection.

Working on body, mind, food connection.

The result of being a chunky daughter of a gorgeous mother is that I am intolerant of what is considered “normal” foods on a deeper, psychological level. My defence mechanisms come into play.

Today, I am grateful that I am a new person. I have worked out for almost two years and built a muscular, thin body. However, the negative force field that surrounds food is still evidenced in my thought patterns. If I eat grapes, I feel guilty. For years, I would go almost all day without eating anything. When I was in university, I would eat bags of candy when I had an exam in a course that was challenging. Even this last winter I went to bed with a bag of gluten free cookies when my son was in danger. I awoke with crumbs stuck to my skin as if I were coated and ready to cook. It is my equivalent to an alcoholic melt down.

So in the past I have had stuffing sessions but never purging. I have been an incomplete bulimic. So in the past I have had anorexic periods without the crazy exercise or extended behavior. Always within a carefully monitored range, I have had a kind enough relationship with my body to snap out of it within a day or two.

In addition, to the dinner table abuse of violence and forced feeding, I also was left to prepare most of the meals from the age of 13 on because my mother worked shift hours. Today, I dislike cooking. I dislike eating in public with a group. Most of the foods which are considered normal, average, usual cannot be processed in my body. Even when I am at home alone, I do not eat a meal at the table. It is over the computer, distracted by a book, watching television. So the act of eating is not the focus. Eating is a way for me to sustain the body that I love, to keep me healthy, to build muscle and keep my mind alert. It is surrounded by guilt and anxiety.

What I am observing is the legacy of memories. How I rewrite that script, how I reconstruct my relationship with food will be an interesting journey. I begin by talking about it.

Quo Vadis losing the way

Quo Vadis losing the way

Dave with the Diamond, The Language of Love

As the baking heat of summer abates, I walk along the waterfront. The experience is so much like the last sip of mango juice, the last kiss of a loved one, the fragrance of the remaining rose standing singular on the stretching branch. Knowing that it is drawing to a close makes me open up my senses all the more.

I think to myself, “Soon you will not see the loose, relaxed bodies of family tribes strolling with a shared rhythm. Soon the skin, arms and legs will be hidden away for winter like putting away seasonal clothing, these exposed limbs. Soon the evening air will not be perfumed by the release of fragrant flowers like a retelling of the narrative of the heat soaked day.”

Sunset City Park

Sunset City Park

It is in the denouement or in the anticipation that we most awaken to our own lives. Studies have show the point of greatest happiness is when an individual is working toward a goal. Olympic athletes report a loss of joy at the end of an event, even if they have garnered a prize.

Quo Vadis losing the way

Quo Vadis losing the way

The ability to be awake to my own life is and has been my focus for several years. How do I stay in a place of contentment even as the seasons change, through the trajectory of plans, effort and achievement? How do I allow emotions, deep grieving memories like forest monsters be recognized and acknowledged? Can I remain aware of what I hold in my body and of what I hold in the grinding fine mill of my brain?

Feel, release. Listen, release.

When I wake up the dreams are tangled around me like dark sheets. For decades I would have nightmares about being killed. The residual fear of my father coming in my room would be presented to me in dreams. My subconscious would be saying, ” Deal with this. Feel this.”

For decades I would awaken sobbing with my heart already shattered.

Through my vision quests; through my sitting at the feet of Shamans, teachers; through my listening to broadcasts from life coaches; through my reading DIY reconstruct your life books I have come to a place where there is an opening.

My eyes unclench at the start of day. I am encased in sadness like a gray, smudging cloud and then I move to gratitude. I put my hand on my heart and thank it for being so committed to staying alive. My heart has kept me here. I thank my heart for being so open and child like. The spirit I am wants to be in love, to share love, to be innocent and expectant. “Thank you, heart,” I say.

Seeing the love

Seeing the love

I lay my warm hand on the place where I held cancer. The place where I have growths removed every five years and I say, “You are healthy. You are fully alive. You live in freedom. You are beautiful. Thank you body.”

As I swing my feet over the edge of the bed, I envision jumping off of the edge of a ledge into the day.

“What kind of a day will you have?” I ask myself.

“Any kind of day you create,” I answer.

“Oh great. Then, it will be wonderful and full of love.”

How do I know my focused study is working? Because there are times when I do not hear a dozen crows and fifteen monkies all chattering in my mind at once.

How do I know my dedication to feeling and healing is effective?

As I walked along the boardwalk a little boy under the age of two was being pushed in his stroller by his parents. He was wearing a wonderful, expensive fedora. I did not smile at him. I did not stop and make faces at him.

I only thought, “Dude. I see your spirit. You are one rocking dude.” He broke into a smile and put his hand up to high five me. His parents stopped, looked at him. They looked at me and were puzzled. And then we all laughed.

I went to the bank and behind the counter was an attractive, thin, very stylish new bank clerk. His name tag said: Dave.

“Dave,” I said, “are you new here?”

“No,” he responded, ” I usually work in another bank.”

I thought how much I liked him daring to be so trim so stylish so unmundane. And then I saw the gigantic engagement ring on his left hand.

“Oh,” I said, “aren’t you the lucky one.”

“I know,” he said, ” and it isn’t because of the ring.”

We smiled together about his love, his claiming who he is in the world, my recognizing how wonderful he was. We just stood smiling together.

As I walked down the street, I saw a car enwrapped in love. On the windshield were two generous bouquets of gladiiolas. An aluminum heart balloon saying, “I love you,” was on the windshield. And balloons, balloons so pink and plasticy were floating from all of the wiper blades.

t I love you ballon

I am so grateful when I see the bravery of love. I am so lifted up when I see two people kiss on a street corner, exchanging tenderness. My heart sings when a baby waves at me.

t power feet

The nightmare world of helplessness, having my bones broken and my spirit invaded are giving way. These days I step out into a world of surprising, magical moments of love. Thank you Dave for wearing your diamond and sparkling bright.

It is not a new season. It will not slip away like summer. It is where I plant my feet. Now.

My thoughts still attach to the narrative trajectory… anticipation, tension, release but I am thankful that I can be aware of what is appearing on my “reality screen.” And sometimes, I can even switch the channel.

Fully Now. Fully Here

The question of when will I no longer be in a quantum blur often occurs to me. Like the field of energy around an object, I float, I pulsate.

Every Atom Belonging to Me as Good Belongs to You

Every Atom Belonging to Me as Good Belongs to You

My physic professor explained to the class that a table was not solid and rigid but was in fact constantly changing its shape. I was excited and thrilled to learn. I walked out of class looking at the clouds, at the trees and hillsides knowing I was incorrect in my perceptions. This moment was the first time that I had substantiation for my sense that the three dimensional universe was like a movie set. Facades. Ghost town. Structures build by the Scene crew.

Lately, I have been noticing some major shifts in my life. As I address the issues of flow, I have become more solid. Throwing out, giving away objects I no longer wish to cling to is creating a thick, downy feeling of peace surrounding me.

To be still is to grow

To be still is to grow

I feel driven. I feel like I am being on purpose to sort my jewellery, to throw out past income taxes, to dispose of past prescriptions. Linens which are worn, rings which were never worn all go.

And in the process I am bringing myself into a sharper focus. As I discard memorabilia for my 18 year marriage, I am grateful for the feelings that come up. Like a person checking a wrist which was broken to see if there is any residual damage, I find that I feel nothing but relief and gratitude for no longer being in the deep pain and sadness of that interaction.

Energy Management

Energy Management

So I release objects, I release memories, I put papers in order. My eye is looking around in my environment to see what else I am merely clinging to in order to make myself feel somehow impenetrable, secure, immortal.

Sitting on my freshly sanded and painted deck on a new chair at a new table under a new umbrella I see my blackberries are ripening. I hear the birds in the large Oriental richness tapestry of the 50 year old Maple tree.

I have siliconed the cracks in the water falling surfaces of the house built in 1946; refinished table tops; diamond coated the heavy traffic floor but most of all I have brought myself into the present. My eye is looking for what I can repair, discard, be done with. My eye is looking for what I am done with.

The surprising result is that along with working out consistently, I am feeling stronger. I am feeling that there are more possibilities. I am feeling that I can change the shape of my “destiny”.

Wearing my heart on my chest.

Wearing my heart on my chest.

I have an estimate coming in. This beautiful bungalow that houses me has one wall essentially uninsulated and a kitchen floor that I have been holding down in place with the yearly coat of appliance paint. That area of the house will be upgraded with a new sealed wall and a newly laid floor.

Yes my caution with money for three years has allowed me to pay down a fragment of the large debt my collapsed marriage created. However, in order to go forward, I have chosen to go forward.

I will finish the house. I will continue to get the physical world around me in order. And as I do, I feel stronger, quieter and more full of possibility.

I am not anchoring my Self by my attention to the material world. My spirit is starting to see that I am not living “around” myself. I am not tied by tendrils of objects, paperwork, photographs, jewellery, documents to an association which is done. The past is the past. And now. Well now is about caring for my body, my house, my finances, my family, my friendships. Out of these strong roots a new shape is growing.

Societal projection androgenous manikin and real self

Societal projection androgenous manikin and real self

I don’t know yet what it is and my mind does not go there. Because I do not want to live as a shimmering ghost energy in my life with the past, the present and the future all exchanging places in my mind. I know my body is “all over the place” according to quantum physics and that I am actually living all times at once. I accept that and it is kind of exciting.

The point of power, however, is in the present as I am now perceiving it. And the awareness that I am training my mind, working with my body to create a clarity leads me out of the chaos of too muchness which is where I was choosing to live.

It seems so counter intuitive that the more I release, the more rich my life becomes. It goes against the siren song that our culture teaches us. Even the homeless push carts full of plush toys, car parts, shining objects around with them.

I am enjoying the exploring. I am enjoying the travel in the orbit around myself without the space debris obstructing my journey.

And now. Now I feel full of possibility. For the first time in three years, I am no longer feeling like a patient in recovery. There is something just around the corner, and there is now. The breeze blowing on my back, grapes ripening on the vines in my yard, people coming into my house and saying, “This is an angel house.” There is now. Gratitude for all my lessons.

new growth, tender leaves

new growth, tender leaves

Colin Farrell is my Role Model

As I sit through the winter, I am more drawn to the movie channels on televison. The struggle to place purpose in my life in a dark time without any boss or authority giving me marching orders is fascinating to watch. For over thirty years I had a job that spun out to structure my weekends and holidays, as well. Writing plays, teaching acting, sewing costumes, marking senior essays filled my hours.

Shortly after I had retired in 1999, I had a studio to provide me with momentum. The requirement of being in the Rotary Centre for certain hours, to attend various openings structured my days.

Also, being for the first time in my life since I was in my 20’s without familial obligations is strange. When I was single, I had two children to feed, clothe, attend to. They took my focus. After they left home, my husband took as much focus and care as my children had. But that is another story.

Now, in the last three years I have been alone. At first, I had a short contract with Okanagan College to teach ABE and I enjoyed that. Some courses were forthcoming from UBC-O Continuing Studies.

But since these classes have closed down, I have been in a deep space float. Focusing on my spiritual work with retreats, meditation and turning away from the world left me sounder, more centered.

But now, now it is a different story. As I was watching the re-runs of movies on the “box”, I kept running into Colin Farrell. His dark eyes so murderously focus. His intensity holds a power that only our shadow self can reveal. When he began some commitment to action in most scripts, he would throw his fate to the wind.

It spoke to me. I used to be that way. I went to school bruised and exhausted and made a good student of myself. I read all the non-fiction books in the elementary school library book by book in the order they were shelved until I had read all. Two Years Before the Mast was one of the grade 6 items. In grade three I had a learning disability but by grade ten I read at a College level on standardized tests. I was one of the top three speed readers in the school.

I graduated with honors from high school and had, by doubling up courses, in University earned two degrees in less than four years.

I raised two children alone without any help or family aid. A further shore would appear in my vision and I would bend my back to the oars and not rest until I got to the land.

The dark and the light. The masculine and feminine.

As I sat on the couch, I thought of how my darkness, my drive, my singular ability to work were my power. Going to the internet, I read about the actor’s prodigious work ethic. I read about his moving unsuccessfully from one relationship to another. Now, today he is single. He is working on his acting skills. He is muscular and tends to the maintenance of strength in his body. He signs on to one production after another.

So it is my masculine side that has protected me, kept me strong and lead me down dark alleys in the pursuit of ego. As I was attracted to his flinty eyed stoicism, I understood that my ferocity is not something I need to disown.

On this winter evening, after watching three Colin Farrell movies I could feel my wonderful inner demon shadow self awakening. Only this time, I have the watchful feminine qualities that I have developed in the past period of hibernation to moderate my choices. The mindful nurturing of my own short, dark powerful, unacknowledged male energy is what calls to me. And that is why Colin Farrell is my role model.

Aredhel is how I envision my gentle feminine self. What a great marriage I hold within my field. Aredhel and Collin Farrell. Enough to make any one laugh and set out the door with a sense of confidence in magic and power.

January Fever

After the 20 hour bus trip back from Houston, I was fairly depleted. I often remark how the “let down” period is usually two days after the life marathon event. Les Mis with friends was a total sob fest for me.
The combination of being physically tired; bored at the routine existence; having no project of passion in my life; missing my daughter, her family and my grandchildren probably played into the prodigious sobbing.

Canadian Beige series Capri Bean Scene

Also, lately I have been feeling so much that I am at a fork in the road. I see others my age who are choosing to leave. The thought of the “legacy” that I haven’t completed plagues me. What if I were gone? What have I done to fulfill my dreams? What gifts have I left in the lives of others?

My life seems so small in comparison to my dreams. The choices that I have made to play safe, stay in the ridges of routine, keep myself disciplined have left me feeling disappointed in myself.

When I was young, I saw myself as an aerialist swinging high on a trapeze. The risk taking, the physical skill, the star power was in me. I could feel it. Power. Power in sequins.

So when did my life become so mundane?

Capri Bean Scene Art Show Kelowna in January

In the past three years, I have come off of work addiction; relationship addiction and have learned to sit calmly in my center. But the sound of the big top still plays in the background.

How can I be myself; hold to my dreams and be so cautious?

One of the biggest difficulties for me is learning acceptance. I accept the fact that I always double think everything. I am cautious until I react as if someone has hit me by a dart of some kind of adrenal intensifying plant. Then I suddenly lurch out into action. Do I think I can do things differently?

For instance, after the Les Mis sobathon that began as the lights dimmed (I have seen the movies and stage plays), I got very ill.

Keeping my spiritual practice in focus, I began to support my body. I stayed home. I drank lots of fluids. I kept my mind calm with meditation and affirmations. Prayers for healing were offered up.

Underneath was the foley like music. Underneath the intention and spiritual practice was the voice, “See. You never start. There is always something you create that keeps you small. Now you can’t start because you are sick.”

As I watch myself, I think of how everything is spiritual practice. Can I just watch my self-denigrating voice and learn from it? What is it that holds me to a place that makes me so restless and yearning? How much of these impatient thoughts are because it is time to reform my life and how much of them are old habits of mind?

When it is time, it will be time. This is what I tell myself.

But I made a chart which covers my intentions. I can check it off in a daily manner. I can walk along the lines of intention. Disciplining myself even further, when in my heart I wish to run away to the circus, stand in the centre ring and astound myself and others with my courage and my fashion sense.

The illusion of Stillness

Mundane, repetitive, stuck, cycling gray
bare cutting into the sky
branches dividing the flat planes.

Over two yards a tree
is busy with dead small leaves
standing texturing the view somewhat.
I seek continuity of
over and over the same
gestures, habits of delusion.
Mind full of thought crows
brassing sounds
comparisons, directions
attempts to keep me scared
and small.

One day looks like the next
a river’s flat silver surface
all turbulence underneath
where water meets the rocks.

To be still, quiet and accepting of one state or another is a monumental practice. My urge to weave a story keeps presenting itself. Today after a month of taking my laundry to the laundromat because some mysterious parts are no longer functioning in my second hand washing machine I see my mind is at work. Up there, in the tree head I weave narratives.

We create turbulence

The higher place is where I try to stand. I call it the balcony view. I picture myself standing on a balcony looking down at my thoughts as if I were a cultural anthropologist and the primitive society was ME.
As I bagged up the laundry, I checked in. So far so good. No story. Just putting the bags in the car. Then I remembered the times when I was in Europe doing laundry and as a grad student. So here was the version I was constructing: I was on an adventure. I was going to a new place.

At the laundromat, I realized I had no soap. That made me laugh. It had been so long I guess I imagined the soap just trickled down like pixie dust from the soap fairy.

When I went next door to the deli/grocery store, a sample pushing woman approached me in her pseudo maid’s outfit lofting a silver tray. After exchanging information about my gluten intolerance, she ran off to check on the two miniature hamburger shaped chocolate eclairs. They were “safe”. She gave me both.

On the way back to the laundromat, I breathed deeply, looked at the sky and thought about how wonderful my day was. Two amazingly delicious, sugar saturated chocolate eclairs melted in my mouth one after the other. The machines were gigantic and tipped on their sides could be a power smart car. Fast. They were done in 20 minutes. I put the wet clothes in the car and drove home singing to the Glee CD I am determined to wear out.

So I did create a story. It was a story of finding the adventure in the flat places of winter. It was a story of seeing my being alone as being free. It was a story of unexpected pleasure when I dropped the turbid drama weavings, the cat’s cradle of catastrophe.

The washer still isn’t working. The repair men went away but after looking at the back of my dryer they explained that the luke warm hours of turning are a result of bad venting. Because they came today, I will have both the washer problem and the dryer problem resolved.

As I sit here with the tepid light coming in my window, I know that there are more things that will appear to be unrepaired, too slow, stultified which are in fact only incubating. Under the shell, under the soil there is growth going on. And that is a story that I allow to dance in my head.

Rain, Tears, Gray Skies and Wonderment

I was awakened by a dream of having three children in an Eastern culture. I was leading meditation practice with the natives in a hill tribe. Authorities did not like having the populace learning to drop the drama, to step away from the story and to turn inward for peace.

deconstructing beauty

They swept down upon the village and took each person and cut off his or her hair by scraping the scalp with a sharp sword. I said to my children,” This will hurt. Turn within to find a place to be that cannot be touched.”

When I was fully awake, I realized that much of what has been playing out in the world had permeated my dream state. The urge to believe that weather systems, earth quakes, governmental repression is somehow new and ultimately destructive was obviously leaving its dirty tracks on the clean floor of my existence.

I follow what is going on politically and international. Attempting to share events with others who are cut off by reposting information appearing on twitter and facebook, is an urge I follow out of a desire to help. Imagining what could be going on is always the path into even greater drama despair.

darkness and light

Those times when I have stood up in the classroom or at staff meetings; or during professional development days to say, “This is bull shit,” are from a deep place in my soul. The other aspect of my personality is the good girl. I want to be stroked by the powers that be and told I did every single thing properly. I want a sticker on my chart.

Well if that isn’t a game plan for internal conflict, I don’t know what is. So I share what I believe to be accurate information. I watch my mind and my thoughts. Taking positive action so that I can live “as if” becomes easier as I grow.

But the dreams that come out of an unsafe and war zone childhood can awaken me. My mind is telling me that I am not protected in the world and that speaking out is dangerous.

My sub-conscious habits have lead to isolating myself and staying quiet until I burst into some Joan of Arch speech and immolate myself upon my own burning stake.

I stepped out of bed with the dream still clothing me and attended to the rituals of self care. I attended a class on self development.

And ultimately, I mused on how much of North America is just growing up. We have not had our country over run by famine, by attacking hoards (an experience of the Native Indians). We have not seen our government overtly shooting people in the streets in a systematic manner. Europeans, Asians, South Americans and Africans have survived every type of stressor that can be named. But my generation, the baby boomers and after have not had a depression before. Some escaped the Viet Nam war experience and were too old for the Middle Eastern experiences.

So in the long run, perhaps much of what is happening now is part of the process of learning responsibility. It is about seeing that life is challenging. There is a wisdom that grows when hardship comes. And it is the kind of wisdom that can lead people to tweet, “The electricity is out, can’t leave the apartment.found out I have a boy friend living here with me.”

So when our world is shaken up by earthquakes or anything else, we turn to one another. We turn within to find a place of peace. We learn to see the brilliant, shining every day beauty of what we once thought of as a boring normal day.

look closely

The dream taught me that I don’t have to live in fear and that I don’t have to worry about “authority figures” changing my identity. Those are all images from my past, from my dark places. There is no drama. There is only turning to find who is there to love.

Always, always the question is, “What am I learning?”

What to do when you are doing nothing?

Yesterday I had another nothing day. I went out to an appointment and had the car loaded with books I intended to read and take notes from. I had a list of what I call the “this and that” of life in my head. Small things left undone end up like an assembly line at a factory just filling up until it ceases to move. When there are enough items that only take a few minutes, then I tackle them all on the same day. So I had that intention.

I returned home, sat down and could immediately feel the last two nights of short periods of sleep in my body.

Somewhere in between seasons hung outside. It wasn’t raining. It wasn’t snowing. The sun wasn’t shining. The air was a dripping dull gray. My mind kept circling back to, “I can start now.” But I was hungry so time for late breakfast at 1 pm.

maple leaves sudden shift to autumn

After reclining on the couch watching crap TV for a while, my mind started its tick tick the list again but I couldn’t work up enough enthusiasm to even check in and see what mind was putting on a list. It was like some background furnace noise blowing through my head space.

I read a bit of my book, I fell asleep for a while, I spent two hours on Facebook, I took the nail polish off of my left thumb then lost my focus. Thank God I had to pee because that got me up to clean the bathroom since I was already there and couldn’t be bothered to sit down and then get up AGAIN to clean. Walking past the washer, I started a single load before I sank back into the warm, worn flesh of the leather couch.

Thinking about marketing, my web presence, my web site, how I needed to “feed the blog” this week, make a poetry video, clean up some poems for the reading Saturday night. Oh! Now the things that I was not doing were becoming more clarified. The shapes through the mind fog were starting to sharpen into discernible entities.

My body was sore from working out every day for five days. So I fell upon the default rescue thought. If I am building muscle then not doing anything is what my body needs in order to repair. So while I am thinking I am not taking action, by not taking action I am allowing my body to take action.

intense colors signal an ending

There! I did it. Like a magnificent athlete, trained and conditioned. My mind can create a doing out of not doing. It is not about resisting the busy body music. It is a care taking.

But I wasn’t buying it. My internal dialogue was continuing the argument. The only thing you are successfully doing is converting time off into yet another item on your list. So you are trying to be working toward your goals even when you are not. Impressive.

At this point, I was exhausted by not doing anything at all with my day so I went upstairs to bed to read a motivational book about focus, commitment to goals and daily effort. Yes. You heard me. Even as I was rolling over in the down covers to take a nap, my mind was saying, “Good job. You are motivation yourself.”

If there were a gold medal for cognitive dissonance, I am in contention for it. Because I am always in contention with myself. I was even too blecky to sit meditation. The last thought before my second nap was, “Well this is some kind of meditation, isn’t it?”

So today I feel that I can get so much done because I rested yesterday. I have a list in hand. The “this and that” items such as buying a tiny bulb for a dark lamp are all written out on the notebook page. I have inventoried my web presences which I intend to realign to one another, reconstruct my marketing plan.

veins like river beds on the earth surface of the leaf

Are these days of no action easy for me? No. The guilt and the internal nattering are not relaxing at all. But I say to myself as if I were a space traveller that it is what the other earthlings do. It doesn’t seem to set them back that much. And after all, I can cross “rest up” off of my list now.

Better get out and rake those leaves.

What is it all about? Face into wind, words carry

Intention, attention, detention. Each day born like a chick. Pecking away the shell of sleep.

So shaky on first legs. Aware that each thought is creating the web lines I will walk each day. Visioning out, creating the universe my orb will rotate through before I can make it to the bathroom, or even put my floor into reality by placing feet upon it.

To catch myself, right then. To catch myself gently by taking my mind in hand is the goal.

When first waking, I place one hand on the scars where my three surgeries were for ridding me of cancer. The other hand I place on my heart and let both my chest and my hand warm one another.

Each day, I lay flat before the universe is constructed and I say to my mind, “You are radiantly healthy and you give and receive love easily.” Each day, I use Reiki or affirmations, or magic on my body in the two places that have to be calmed and assured. “You are radiantly healthy and your heart is full of love.”

Only after those moments do I stand, shake off the unbeing of night and sleep. Where ever I have travelled, I am back into the habit of mind-body connection we call awake. As I walk to the bathroom, I watch my thoughts. My mind has already made up the holodeck I am stepping into for the day.

“Whine, whine, whine,” the song goes in my brain. The hard stone of loneliness is still below my heart and above my belly button. Still there, I can feel the dark, heavy spot. Parents dead; children moved away; marriages done one after one. The house is quiet with only the blowing heat in winter or air conditioner in summer breaking into the white, clear silence.

I turn my mind to gratitude as one would help a child learn to tie shoes for the first time. I am patient. I talk to myself with compassion. “Let’s see. We will make a list. Wow, you had 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Your body feels good. You are not afraid that someone in your environment will hurt you, will be sneaking around betraying you. No one is criticizing you. Your body feels strong and rested. The bed is comfortable, the tree outside your window is beautiful, your car purrs when you turn the key, ….” On I go chanting to the trembling gray feathered bird which has broken from the shell of night, chanting that the world is a safe and wonderful place.

The coffee is excellent, the best and freshly ground. The orange juice is golden. I drink it standing at the window so I can see the brilliant color in between sips. I take my pills that help me build strength and optimism. They work for me. I congratulate myself on everything that I did to advance my sense of safety and confidence in the world yesterday.

The stone of past oppressions; of a war zone childhood; of bad choices and loss is still there. But I notice that it is getting smaller. I make friends with its presence as if it were a mole or a scar, only it is one which I carry within.

So many times during the day, I reach “no story” status. It is the top of the mountain for me. Something happens. My car needs $700 worth of repairs. And I say, “thank you,” to the universe for the mechanic’s catching loose bolts and a rusted arm that would have lead to an accident. Within one hour, I drop it and do not weave it into the cloth of thorns that I could choose to wear throughout the day.

Sometimes, I have no body or personality or thoughts. The sense of floating comes to me at times while I sit meditation on the deck. The feel of the sun melts the dimensions, my physical body, my aura of jagged thoughts away into no thing. It is beyond pleasure. It is just space.

The result of watching my self through the day is that I can see the four year old; the frightened 38 year old with two children to care for; the woman who ran bleeding after love appear in my thoughts. And whatever age my shadow self is, I see her. I know exactly where it is coming from. I know exactly why she wants to start the story, the drama, the cliff hanger, the adrenaline of anxiety which is her addiction. Sometimes, I am even able to soothe her and step away from her pull on my hand. “Follow me into victim land,” she will call out.

What has been most exciting for me in this process is that I am learning that I am not good or bad. I am human. I have a personality, a soul, a history, habits of mind, self destructive patterns and even cognitive dissonance that has me eating sugar while trying to become radiantly healthy. But I am learning.

By God, by all that is Holy the gifts this life has brought to me are starting to be evident. I can watch myself with love. The struggles with arrogance, judgement, social anxiety, over control, failure to allow myself to be close to others are on going. Even when I had past life regression, I could see the same lessons appearing. So how can I expect to “get it” in this life if I have been doing the work on the tendency to isolate myself since 1053 B.C.? I mean really, let it go sister.

When I awake with my feathers so young and wet they look like fur, and I lay among the shell fragments of dreams, I recreate my life. Each day is a new universe, a new energy field, a new web I weave with my thoughts. What is my life about? It is about learning how to live. It is about learning what I have created and taking full responsibility for each thought I use to speak to my self. I am after all brand new, unsure, trembling to be here.

I see myself so strong and soaring in the sky with no weight of darkness. I see myself light in light. So I touch my scars and my heart, and I talk to myself each day. I am teaching myself how to live. It is why we are all here. To understand. To live with no story, no drama, no victim/villian mentality. But thank God we are reborn each day, new, fresh face into the wind with our words carrying out into the world our intention to be loving.

And sometimes the sun shines.

August Fades

The clouds overhead today floated in a brilliant light tone of prussian blue sky. At the start of day the clouds were muted but as the sun moved across the sky to flare the blue to a vibrant pastel the clouds burned white. Now, as the sun sets the edge of all the clouds is neon rayed. Like the last days of summer, for a few lingering moments the intensity of smudged color hangs in the air.

long shadows moving on summer lawn

The sky is shifting. Grays in multitude of shades hang in the silver air. Seasons shift. Lights shift. Colors shift in this period between seasons.

I mowed my lawn today with my wonky, cartoon-wheeled lawn mower. The axel is bent on all of the wheels so they roll around at various positions of 45 % angles. It works. It cuts the grass. And it didn’t cost me much. The green kingdom with its six mum plants and the last two roses waving their orange flag looks orderly. The care and attention I put into my lawn is easy to see.

I have trimmed back the lavender bushes so that a body can pass up my walkway to the front door without having to kick back the seedy stem heads. All that was trimmed, I am placing in net bags to give to friends. Their purpose is to promote tranquility.

Squeezing the bag causes the air to fill with the memory of the purple blossoms swarming with bees in the warm air of summer. The pollinating, the creating of blossoms are instantly recalled as the thumb sinks into the tiny pillow of dried plants.

I love summer and inevitably go through a kind of reluctant farewell to the heat and brilliant colors. There is sadness in the chill air after sundown.

The beginning of summer always holds promise. This year I will play more. This year I will find the loved one. This year I will be the carefree child creature I am at core.

As the promise of summer passes away, I recall which promises I have kept to myself.

being aware t

my choices help to create who I am

I have gotten the yard in shape; painted the fences; painted the deck; renovated the kitchen; dug up and replanted my garden beds; gone to school in Boulder, Colorado where I earned an A on my M.F.A. course; maintained my commitment to body building; connected with new people in order to build friendships. My nearly 4 thousand kilometer trip from Kelowna to Boulder, Colorado; on to Denver, Colorado; visiting Portland, Oregon and returning home was out of my comfort zone and an accomplishment.

However within myself, I have carried with me a certain sadness that has been there most of my life. Some days it is active and pressing on me. Others I just ignore it by getting busy and moving toward my goals. Feelings of not being safe when I was young, not being loved are smaller and less insistent.

Roses my neighbour bought for my birthday

What I have learned in this last year is to ask for help. I am going out the door more often to be in the company of friends. I stay calm in difficult situations and can solve what needs to be solved without drama.

My body is healthier. My outlook is more optimistic. I am finding it much easier to understand what is happening when negative emotions arise. It is very rarely that I find myself justifying my behaviour or condemning myself for a stupid error.

Body building, eating well and eight hours of sleep

What has helped me the most in my journey is the idea of no story. Things just happen. The sun has set. The sky is now edging turquoise to navy blue clouds. It just is.

companionship in the falling light

I am proud of myself for not sinking down into distracting negative behaviors to deal with emotions which come up. I have seen what drinking alcohol does to the mind, to the ego, to the personality. I have observed my financial tail spin when I tried to buy my way out of distress. So standing emotionally “undressed” in the wind of what is, is my choice. Ultimately, it is easier.

Why did that happen? Why did the relationships not work out? Why am I feeling stuck or lost in a particular moment? It just is. When the cold water of the lake is moving up my ankles and then drawing back again, I watch the movement and feel the temperature and texture. It just is.

We all have our own lessons. We are like children sitting in school with a worksheet, head resting on a hand. It is hard, so hard that we stick out our tongues, we hold the pencil awkwardly. We try an answer. We hope.

May you continue to dance through the autumn with a smile upon your face.