I’m Still Here

Hello, readers! I am back to assure you that I have not abandoned my blog. Yes, it’s been a week. A really really really really really rough week. I’m at an ebb in my journey through writing and creativity, and I have been at a peak of disorganization and illness.

I decided to halt my meanderings through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Frankly, I started falter after week 3. By week 8, I began to repeat weeks. When I “redid” week 10, I did not look at the book. I said I would read through the remaining chapters, but I haven’t.

Is that a failure? In some ways, yes. Part of the issue is that I find it time consuming and difficult to think of an artist date every week. Julia recommends that you push your creative boundaries, but I’m not sure I’m at that level. I’ve even lost the motivation to write morning pages.

On the plus side, I have an appointment with a social worker who uses EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) as part of her treatment work. I worked with a social worker for 2.5 years in the Boston area who used EMDR, and I found it effective. I only stopped after moving to the NYC area in September.

I am in the place where I have always gotten stuck, although I managed to stay motivated for an amazing three months. That may not sound like much. When you are the type of person who’s enthusiasm almost never lasts a week, this is amazing.

Either way, I want to dig in the earth of my primal system and memories and excavate all the terrors and monsters that continue to haunt my life.

I seek nothing less than to open my core up to the world. I seek fearlessness.

From May 31 to June 9, I am participating in the Hay House World Summit 2014 where I will have access to 100 audio lessons, worksheets, movies, and videos, as well as making a donation, all for $7.

As a huge fan of The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, I bought and downloaded two mp3s of the author’s insights on the book, approximately 2 hours in length altogether.

I seek radical, life-changing transformation in a positive direction where I am able to consistently work towards my goals.

Universe, gimme all ya got. I stand ready to receive your guidance.

Namaste.

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One Positive Thing Leads to Another

This morning I did something different: I played music while stretching, and I took the time to notice tension release after some poses, which are a combination of yoga and physical therapy stretches. After a few days back into my stretching routine, I am feeling better.

The stretching and the physical therapy exercises I do in pools helped me feel really good before my recent descent into despair. Like I person who thinks she can stop taking the medication that are making her sane, I stopped the stretching and the gym earlier this month. I get lazy. I think I can get away with it. I get proven wrong.

The gradual release of tension in my body of the fibromyalgia pain lightens my body and my mood. I start to float through a lot of things I want to do: writing, being creative, finding inspiration, moving forward. I considered getting up earlier and how doing so would allow me to get to writing earlier in my day. I considered this body-mind-mood connection.

But my brain felt as empty as stage with only a spotlight on it. Usually, this worries me. Today I thought. Is that so bad? If my brain was an empty stage, what characters might come out? What stories could I write?

I sent my short story to three friends. Two read them and gave me comments. Whee! I have never willingly asked anyone for feedback on something I wrote. That’s a new one for me. All of this is new. I reminded myself that I do not produce widgets. I build worlds in stories.

How fucking awesome is that?

Then it hit me: I am incredibly blessed! I have so much privilege of which I am not even aware most of the time. My life is amazing, just the way it is. I have love, a home, companion animals, awesome friends, loyal family, access to healthcare for mind, body, and soul, and all the food and Starbucks coffee that I could possible want.

I have books, a bed, and a safe environment that I can make my own and create in. I have the power to move my life forward in any direction I want. My life is the way it is because I allowed all of it in. My relationship with my mother has improved immeasurably, one sister wants to be closer to me, and the others are in good standing. So much Love exists in my life. So much PeacePower, and Privilege.

Yes, I have been through health and surgery hell. I survived J– R–. I survived years of head-banging therapy. I survived jobs I despised and toxic friends.

Every time I listened to my desires in recent years, I came face to face with the answer I needed. My desire to grow brought me to a book to EMDR to M– P– who helped you with IFS, ACT, and EMDR to missing my family to moving home for my father to a vastly improved relationship with my mother to diving into a writing career to being self-directed, and to speaking your truth to your family and finding that you can live through it all even when doing so is scary.

All told, I wrote a full 8.5″ by 11″ page of things I can be grateful for. That must be some kind of record! All that writing gave me a renewed sense of Hope and Faith in myself. I can do it. I will do it. I am doing it.

Hope is my word that Buzzfeed says best describes me. Hope is a cat in the Garden City Petco that I want to adopt. Sweet, soft, and loving, Hope was found impaled on a fence. She let me pet her through the window.

I am humbled by the ability of abused souls, human and animal, to continue loving even after torture and pain, accidentally or not.

I think we need new Internet shorthand. Instead of SMH, we should start thinking talking and sharing SML – So Much Love.

Go spread some love.

The middle stretch

If you ask me what my favorite part of any project is, I will tell you the beginning. From idea generation to initial planning and list making to getting things off the ground and running, I love it all. I even do OK with being involved in getting the details settled into working order.

Then it comes: the middle stretch. This is where most of the project lies. Resources are allocated, assigned to personnel, and tracked in minute detail. Progress is regularly checked against benchmarks, adjustments are made, and copious meetings in seemingly endless personnel arrangements to discuss problems and get things back on track. Budgeting, reining things in, and moving towards project completion.

All the itty bitty numbers, thousands of data tentacles, the decisions and arguments that need to be made, and the grunt work all bring me down. I get woozy, confused, and depressed. Get me too far into the project, and I literally have to force myself to move towards the end. I give up. I dread the process. And I just can’t wait for it all to be over.

I really wish I could get into this whole “enjoy the process” thing. I have long been focused on doing Things, getting Results, and achieving a pile of Done. I do get a thrill from performing at a high level of productivity. Yet, I still couldn’t get past the feeling that it all didn’t add up to anything meaningful.

On the flip side, I do enjoy the writing process. But pulling it all together where I am going to write some body of work and get it published. I am supposed to be some kind of marketer. And I understand the need for publishers to get authors who can keep their own momentum going. I really do. It makes perfect, reasonable, logical sense to me.

Unfortunately, the internal struggles with myself, with the work that is in front of me are not conducive to amounting to Great Works, to consistency, or to enjoyment of processes.

When you are having trouble at a particular stage of your work, what are some strategies you use to get you through it?

Beautiful Bellerose Village

During my mid-afternoon despairing session, I decided that a post-lunch, post-tummy ache walk on a warm spring day such as this would be a great way to feel better.

The neighboring town, Bellerose Village, starts up the block and around the corner from my house. The streets are lined with elms that tower over the wide streets in a breathtaking green canopy.

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Nearly everyone keeps their lawns green and plants flowers. I discovered a flowering tree that I have never seen before with tiny flowers in cone arrangements that lift off the greened boughs in lovely, lilting spikes.

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Azaleas of all shapes sizes and colors can be found. At the end of Michigan Road, one of the homes showcases a hedge of hot pink azalea.

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The slow walk around this compact village with a summer-like breeze amid greenery, distinct homes of various styles, wide streets, and seemingly ancient elms brings me the solitude and rejuvenation that I require.

I would live in Bellerose Village in a heartbeat. In the meanwhile, I can solo dips into nature in this quaint place that I have loved since I was a child.

Reboot!

Hello, long lost friends. Wait. You say that I’m the one who is long lost? Well, you would be right. I went a whole week without blogging. That was towards the end of my spiral.

I was feeling good, so I stopped stretching every day. I followed Chuck Wendig’s zero fuckery, 350-word a day plan for 6 days. One day was travel-filled from 4am to 8pm and then I needed recovery during which I did nothing. I started repeating weeks in The Artist’s Way and didn’t find time to do my weekly artist date. Daily meditation dropped off, as did writing morning pages.

Last night, I finally crashed and burned into depression, precipitated by flash feelings of “being bored.” Now I know that my “feeling bored” is another way of saying “I’m feeling depressed.” Had a good cry about it last night, but I know I have a lot of work ahead.

On the plus side, I’m on the upswing again. Stretched. Meditated. Had breakfast. Did not fuck around on Facebook or News. Wrote morning pages. Got organized. Wrote notes, sent email. Doctor appointment. Lunch & cleanup.

Now blogging. Later, 350 words. Editing to be done. The Gym.

I know now that, whatever it is that I chose to do in this life, would be affected by the cycle I have been caught in: Enthusiasm. Habit building. Off to a great start. Making excuses. Stop working. Get depressed. Maybe give up for a while. Then start all over again.

This is an internal struggle. Nothing is happening except that which exists as a thought inside my mind. Thoughts manifest actions or inactions, which leads to more thoughts, etc. But this getting off to a great start, stubbing my toe, and sitting out the rest of the game is old and tired.

Some cycle perpetuates itself deep inside my psyche. I think I understand the pieces of my life. But getting into some kind of emotional healing and understanding is the hardest part.

I reach out for help again, but I do want a “magic pill.” Not a drug I have to take for the rest of my life, but a magic reality pill that will illuminate what the twisted thoughts are that wind themselves around each other over and over.

I do not think whatever is left psychologically uncovered would kill me or destroy my mind, but I wouldn’t mind if I became a hermit for a while, only to emerge the raw, naked Self of which I will no longer be ashamed.

In the meantime, I reboot.

Mother’s Day Presents

For four days ending yesterday on Mother’s Day, my husband, my mother, and I drove to and from Massachusetts to visit family, friends, and take care of house stuff. This was the first trip my 83 year-old mom since my dad died in December. The last time they went anywhere together was 2008 before my dad had a stroke.

Thursday, we made it into our Plainville, MA hotel after a 6 hour drive including stops and lunch in Mystic, CT. With all of us so tired, we all vegged out for the night reading and/or writing.

On Friday, we treated my husband’s 92 year old aunt to lunch for her birthday that day. Afterwards, my husband went home to nap while we ladies went to the mall to walk and shop at J.C. Penney’s. My mother said that this was the first time she had fun since my dad died.

Later that night, we picked up our aunt and went over to my brother- and sister-in-law’s house. For the first time, my 16-year old niece and 10 year-old nephew hung out with the adults. We were all joking, laughing, and teasing other over coffee, homemade vanilla cream pie that our aunt made, and a platter of cookies. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much with my husband’s family. Great, great day filled with fantastic memories.

On Saturday, we drove into Cambridge, MA. We met a couple of dear friends for lunch. My mom had a stomachache, so I walked her back to the hotel and then met up with our friends again. We chatted, laughed, and ate ice cream from Toscanini’s.  My husband and I met with a painter to discuss painting the exterior of our home that we are renting out, and we talked to our current property manager about transitioning to new tenants. Because it was getting late and my mother was still not feeling well, my husband and I went for a snack and drink in the hotel restaurant.

The bed in that hotel was not comfortable, and I was up in pain at 4am. After checking out, we met a dear friend at Veggie Galaxy for morning breakfast. I had been dying to take my mom there, and she enjoyed the stuffed french toast. We had to drive to and from West Roxbury, MA in order to pick up a rental truck to transport some items that we left at the house. After packing the truck and getting food supplies at Starbucks, we headed home for New York.

On the way home, I played the Leonard Cohen channel on Pandora. After a while my mom asked, “You like listening to this kind of music? It’s going to put you to sleep.” I said, “Yeah, sometimes. I’ll play something peppier for you.” So I changed the channel to Beborn Beton, and my mom was tapping along to the songs.

Last week, Massachusetts began a campaign to get drivers to use their blinkers when changing lanes. On the electronic signs along the highway, the signs asked “Changing lanes?” followed by this message:

Blinkah

For those of you who do not knot, the New England accent tends to drop the ending ‘r’ sound and turns it into an ‘AH’ sound, the kind of ‘AH’ sound that you might make when the doctor is holding your tongue with a depressor. For a while, my mom kept saying ‘blinkah’ when she saw a driver not use their blinkers. That’s pretty darn cute when you consider that my mother is an 83 year-old Italian with an accent. While driving in MA, I noticed an incredible amount of blinker usage that I can only attribute to the increased awareness that the electronic boards brought about.

At another point, I was explaining something to my mom. She said to me, “You know, I’m not trying to tell you what to do. You can drive however you want.” I reached over to touch her arm gently and said, “I know that, mom. I know you’re not trying to tell me what to do. I was just sharing information.” My mom turned to me and said, “You know, we really get along great.”

On Mother’s Day, we give presents to our mothers. This time, I got some of my own.

Risks and Parachutes

This morning, I did one of the scariest (and dumbest) things that I have ever done: I walked over half a mile next to a road with no sidewalk and a tiny to non-existent shoulder alongside fast-moving traffic. I’m not sure whether having my mother and husband with me makes me feel better or worse. Instead of one idiot, there were three.

On our way back, I began to notice all the car crash debris on the side of the road. I thought of drunk drivers who careen off the road and kill people. While working as a NYS trooper in his 20’s, one of my elementary and high school classmates, Rob Ambrose, was killed when a drunk driver careened into the car he had pulled over and was ticketing. I feel beyond blessed to have escaped unharmed on my morning walk despite my own poor decision.

When I was growing up, my mother used to scare the shit out of me because all my plans were greeted with tales and questions about terrible things that were going to happen to me if I dared wanted to go anywhere outside the house except for my backyard. After we returned, I couldn’t believe that my mom didn’t think it was too risky to chance to go for a 2 mile walk yesterday along that same road.

It must be the purview of parents to terrify their children out of doing the things that they themselves wouldn’t think twice about doing. The more time I spend with my mother, the more I understand why she drives my sister M mildly crazy with her poor decisions. God watches over fools and babies (and other idiots).

Taking risks is an interesting subject. Today’s walk opened my eyes to the difficulties that parents must face in trying to teach their children what’s a “good” risk to take and what’s a “bad” risk. This kind of fear/excitement that I felt while walking on the road is like jumping out of an airplane in a parachute. Some might call the risk of dying unacceptable (like me) while others acknowledge it, take precautions (parachutes), and jump anyway (like friends of mine).

Now I have a new perspective on the title of the book What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles. When we choose a path for ourselves, we are moving forward into the unknown, much like jumping out of an airplane. The parachute, aka our professional lives, might take the form of education, training, internships, volunteering, recommendations, and a clean background check. We dye the silk cloths with our interests, best skills, and preferences. With the job application, we leap out of our plane and pull the parachute strings hoping to land safely on a job.

Taking the “bad” risk, making it through, and sitting down to write about it illustrated the book’s meaning in a major way. The mental experience of my breakthrough felt like the pieces of a magnetic puzzle pulling together in perfect form. Afterwards, I have the feeling of having been pulled into a new dimension of understanding. There was the Before, and Now is the After.

In The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she recommends twice weekly brisk walks for 20 minutes. I am wondering if a pre-breakfast walk each day might make my morning pages a more interesting place to explore things after I explore the outside. I might consider giving this an experiment next week. That might mean I get up earlier (heaven forbid) or end up writing my morning pages. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I guess I will have to experiment.

But I’m pretty sure that this idea is one of those good risks to take.