Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Turning Fifty, Donna Summer, & Unused Creativity

Yesterday afternoon, I was mundanely picking up my lovely child from volleyball practice. Prior to the drive, I had been busy planning an event that I'm in charge of for the first time and my mind has been filled with details, emails and a little anxiety.  On the way home, I tuned to the 70's station of Sirius Radio.  The first few bars of a song played and I quickly grabbed the volume knob and turned it up as loud as I thought Mallory could take it.

And then I turned it up a little more.

My energy level shot up.  I began bracing to happily belt out words to a long ago familiar song.

~Stringed instruments~

"Someone left the cake out in the rain, I don't think that I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it and I'll never have that recipe again....AGAIN

~Insert wicked laugh and groovy dancing music....

I have no idea what the lyrics mean but I bellowed out the ones that I remembered. And I laughed while doing so because what does that cake represent.  I haven't known for thirty years.  But my spirit lifted.  My mood shifted.


I love how unbelievably fast that music can change my energy and lift my soul up.

While I walked the dogs this morning, I began a You Tube play list of groovy dancing music from my era of the late 70's and 80's.  Why have I never pulled together all of the music that makes me so happy?  I became lost in it and will pay the price by going to the later, more advanced yoga class.  Oh well, my intuition has told me I needed to step up anyway.

Music, the arts, writing and more falls under being creative. Creativity comes from a higher power.  Unused creativity is not benign.  I remember when I heard that in a podcast with Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert.  That WOKE me.  What Brene learned from the research was that when you do not use what you have been given, it can eat you up inside and make you sick with resentment, grief, and heartbreak.  Ohhhhh.   That gift of God must be used.  I need to write.  I need to dance.  I need to turn up the volume on what pleases my soul.  And we are all creative people, it's not just the arts.  It can encompass using your brain to think out of the box.  What holds me back?  Time and worrying about what other people think. But when I make the time and let go and use it...

It makes me a more LOVING and JOYFUL person (which is why God planned it that way)

I do need to stop worrying about what others opinions are of me.  I am turning fifty this year.  It is a decent number milestone.  It is making an impression on me because my birthday isn't until August and it's been on my mind!!  At this point in my life, I have to get on the horse or not ride at all and be sick with heartbreak and grief.  I can feel it.   It is also the tenth year of writing this blog. How did that happen?  I have been finding myself and my soul, slowly, through this writing and other means.  Once again, the point about finding my authenticity is that it is divinely given.  As I peel back the layers of stories I tell yourself, of who I  think I'm supposed to be, and find out what makes my soul sing, I find the Creator.

The very essence of the beginning of life and LOVE.

So I will try a little harder to fit Donna Summer and 80's music in but also find time for quiet which is where my writing naturally evolves.


It's a great podcast!! Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert: Season 1, Episode 12: Brene Brown on "Big Strong Magic"

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Driving Lessons and Learning How to Be Me From My Eldest

Riley is growing up and I'm allowing her to be who she is, and it's an ever-evolving journey. This week we went to the DMV and obtained her permit to drive with a licensed parent.  Last year at this time, it came as an utter surprise to me that Driver's Ed would occur this year, her fifteenth year of life.  I've been so consumed with her changing schools that driving was not on my radar at all.

The topic actually popped up at a church values seminar last year with a round table of parents and I was stunned to learn how soon driving could be taking place.  I was more concerned about discussing values and sexuality when this other topic popped up.  I had more reason to worry about driving : )

I have not emotionally nor mentally embraced my child behind the wheel, but we are doing it anyway.   It feels akin to the Subaru commercial where the dad pictures his teenager as a little girl behind the wheel.

When this child came out of my body, I felt overwhelmingly responsible for her.  Her dietary nurturance came from me. We were attached 24-7 for about a year with very few breaks. I was her everything as mothers are. George played a part too but as my body grew her inside of me, it was on me, and perhaps I felt this a little too much. Some days were terrifically challenging due to postpartum depression but I went through the motions again and again until it felt normal.  I was very enmeshed with her and had a hard time letting go of the little stuff.  In hindsight, I wished I could have relaxed and trusted the Divine One that all would be well.  Yet that was how I was wired at the time.

Over the years, I learned we needed boundaries.  I learned to be present with her emotions but not to take them personally as I had.  The very first tantrum she had as a toddler, scared the bejesus out of me.   The older aged tantrums were also difficult but I sloooowly learned that she was venting and there was something deeper in her that needed attention.  And magically when I got to the root of the need, the fireworks ceased.  We all want to be heard and be in connection.

Last year was a deeper learning curve.  She had been miserable at school for years in terms of friendships. She really liked the school but there was no comfortable fit at all socially.  She felt an outcast where she (we!) had been for ten years.  And as I take things personally, was I an outcast?  I didn't fit in the clique.  I had to learn to be me and find friends naturally.  Riley has put a spotlight on this area for me this year.

This first semester at her new school, was a big transition for me, not her!  Sadness bubbled over me every time I went to the old school with Mallory.  Riley fit in seamlessly at the new school and has been happy from the very first interaction of summer geometry camp that her parental units made her go to.  She bonded with the other campers complaining that their P.U's made them go too.  I wanted her to start making friends as soon as possible and unconsciously I wanted her to do it my way.  I wanted her to go to the football games (not interested).  I thought she should be inviting new friends over to hang out or go to the movies (nope.)   We had uprooted our lives and schools for gosh sakes, I thought she needed to put herself out there.  I was so overwrought about her former school's fall dance and her sociability that I ended up at the therapist office extensively for her.  But as I sat and informed the therapist of what was going on, she looked at me and said, this seems to be more for you than for her.


Deep down I knew this.  It took that one session with a professional to tell me that introverts make friends very slowly and tend to watch and gather information.  If they have one or two friends, that's all they need and they like being alone. Bazinga!

She just wanted to go to a school and have friendly faces around her.

Thus began the deep acceptance of teenage Riley and a deep acceptance of who I am on a more enlightened level.

Riley is perfectly happy to be at home on Friday and Saturday nights and for most of a school break.  What's important right now moreso than boys, are those friendly faces at school.  She's not interested in makeup, earrings or fashion and when we clothes shop, it is decisive. She loves academics, history, trees, genealogy, her church, volunteering, Birkenstocks, Chacos and NCIS.  What thoroughly cemented my daughter's proclivities was a personality test at school and the results showed her love of structure and order at the rate of 73% and social needs at 4%.  Whoa!!  Could it be any more obvious how my child was wired?!!

She has social activities but ones that I didn't have growing up and those fulfill her. The ones that I desperately wanted in high school, like a boyfriend, or being popular is not on her list.

So, I get it.  And I have really been examining my own friendships, and passions.  What and with whom do I really want to spend my time on?   I have to listen to my own God given intuition for what works for me.

I am not ready for her to drive, as it feels very unnatural right now.  Turning her out into the world in a 3-4 ton automobile to interact with the world at large is daunting. Yet I am getting in the car with her again and again until it begins to feel normal.  I am also tightly gripping the door handle too!  I know that this time in the car is priceless.  When she starts driving on her own, I will lose that chunk of time and won't gain it back. Being a parent is an amazing journey with bumps and dives and thrilling highs and large learning curves.  To survive, I use big deep breaths that fill the lungs completely with just as large exhalations and listening to the Holy Spirit through my own intuition.  And my own quiet time!!

And all will be well even if it doesn't look like I anticipated.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Anne Lamott's New Year's Non Diet Missive

From Anne Lamott:  I so needed to read this today.

We need—I need— to have the same little talk we have every year at this time:
I know you are planning to start a diet on Monday, January 1st, I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, " Oh, that's great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?"
I got rid of her sorry ass. No one talks to ME that way.
Well, okay, maybe it was ten years later, after she had helped lead me back home, to myself, to radical self-care, to friendship with my own heart, to a glade that had always existed deep inside me, to mostly healthy eating, but that I'd avoided all those years by achieving, dieting, binging, people-pleasing, and so on.
Now when I decide to go on a diet, I say it to myself: "Great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?" Here is what's true: diets make you fat. 95% of the time. We gain it back, plus 5 lbs.
I may have mentioned several hundred times that I have had the tiniest, tiniest struggle with food and body image for the last--well, life time. Hardly worth mentioning. It is a long story, having to do with childhood injuries to my sense of self, terrible anxiety, and the inability of my parents to nurture my soul: so starving and chastising myself cannot possibly heal this. I hate to say it, but only profound self-love will work, union with that scared breath-holding self, and not a diet that forbids apples, or avocado. Horribly, but as usual, only kindness and grace--spiritual WD-40--can save us.
Can you put the scale away for a week? Okay, then how about 4 days? I have been addicted to the scale, too, which is like needing Dick Cheney to weigh in every morning on my value as a human being. Can you put away your tight pants, that don't actually hurt you? Wear forgiving pants! The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act, with random thoughts about my butt.
By the same token, it feels great to be healthy. Some of you need to be under a doctor's care. None of you need to join Jenny Craig. It won't work. You will lose tons of weight quickly, and gain it all back, plus five. Some of you need to get outside and walk for half an hour a day. I do love walking, so that is not a problem for me, but I have a serious problem with sugar: if I start eating it, I sometimes can't stop. I don't have an off switch, any more than I do with alcohol. Given a choice, I will eat Raisinets until the cows come home--and then those cows will be tense, and bitter, because I will have gotten lipstick on the straps of their feed bags.
But you crave what you eat, so if I go for 3 or 4 days with very little sugar, the craving is gone. That is not dieting. If you are allergic to peanuts, don't eat peanuts. Have an apple! Have some avocado.
It's really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It's okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and to pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. Unfortunately, it's yet another inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not out there. It's within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it's true.
Maybe some of us can try to eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to all problems. Doing a three minute meditation every day will change your life. Naps are nice.
I'll leave you with this: I've helped some of the sturdier women at my church get healthy, by suggesting they prepare each meal as if they had asked our beloved pastor to lunch or dinner. They wouldn't say, "Here Pastor--let's eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of barbecue Pringles is all for you. i have my own." And then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container. No, they'd get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, a plate filled with love, pride and connection. That's what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now, or on the 1st. Wow!
Join me in not starting a diet January 1st. And God bless you all real good, as my pastor always says.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Divine Dance in the Donut Shop

I was having a hard time emotionally yesterday.  I went to Mallory's school in the morning for a program and then I had to return in the afternoon for another program.  On occasion, I have been blindsided by feelings that come up when I go to campus as Riley is no longer there.  When I see high school uniforms, I immediately think, oh, where is she? And then I remember... she's across town.

Anger, resentment and sadness bubble up and sit on my chest.  With ten years under our belt, I never planned to change schools but it was an absolute necessity.  I am resentful that it did not work out. I am sad that she felt like she didn't belong.  (And on a deeper level, it's about me feeling like I didn't belong)  She and I have discussed it any amount of times to understand it just wasn't a good fit for her.  Her personality didn't mesh with her particular grade.  Yet I want this energy of anger and sadness to GO AWAY but I know I have to allow them to flow through and not fight it.  I asked one of my bests friends, to please tell me that I'm not crazy for feeling this way.  (Even when I know, feelings are just energy and they will flow through)  I was lucky that she happens to have a friend in a similar position that has expressed similar sentiments to mine.  But the unwelcomed energy still sat there.  I broached the subject with Riley on our ride home and she, of course, knew where I was coming from.  She at fifteen is growing up, maturing and now that she is in a better place, our relationship is more mature and we can communicate better. (of course it still has it's moments!!)

That afternoon, I walked with my neighbor and the movement and conversation helped my spirits but heaviness still sat on my chest.  It is grief, not as deep as losing a loved one but it is grief nonetheless and as the case with grieving, it shows up in waves when you least expect it.

This morning before school, Mallory and I took a very last minute detour to the donut shop to bring some for a school party.  It was very off the cuff last minute decision.  We ran into several school acquaintances who were doing the same.  I asked one friendly acquaintance how she was doing.  And then she inquired how Riley was doing at the new school.  I answered that she was doing well and it was working out so far. She said some schools are just not a fit for everyone. And then, I took a big risk and mentioned my resentful feelings.

And this is where the God wink begins.

My risk of vulnerability paid off, and she acknowledged my feelings. I don't even remember exactly what was said, but I  felt heard and she understood the quagmire of one child leaving a school and one child remaining there.

It was music to my heart.

Side Note: It is very important to save heartfelt emotions to share with someone who deserves the right to hear it. Otherwise, you walk away feeling worse. All people need and want to be heard and have their feelings acknowledged. 

After I dropped Mallory off at school, I texted this friend  to thank her for her insight and understanding.  And the God wink continued when she texted back and said that anyone should understand the situation and that she missed seeing Riley's smiling face on campus.

Whoa. Cue the really ugly cry which I needed to have so very much.  I cried immediately and deeply and the energy moved through for the most part.  It was the right timing. It was divine timing.  It was the right moment, right person to show a bit of compassion for it to flow.

I see a God wink as the holy spirit doing it's thing.  I have learned to attribute these types of interactions as a divine interaction.  I understand the "dance" of the Trinity.  Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  I acknowledge a divine flow.  It's the practice of continually learning to let go, and things will not necessarily happen as I want them to, but my needs are answered in unexpected ways in their own time and I feel a peace for a short time that is indescribable.  And I work again, to let go.  It's a continual progression.

I am so very grateful for that Divine flow and these God winks.

(Another side note: I was able to hear Father Richard Rohr discuss this very topic in New Orleans two weekends ago.  His book is the Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your  Transformation) It was an incredible talk.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Welcome Home True Self by Joyce Rupp

In preparing for the Joyce Rupp book study I facilitated in the fall I found this beauty that she wrote.  I have found that this type of spiritual poetry is a balm to my soul.  This one is so very truthful of my journey inward.  Hope that it resonates with you as well.

the persistent voice of midlife
wooed and wailed, wept and whined,
nagged like an endless toothache,
seduced like an insistent lover, 
promised a guide to protect me
as I turned intently toward my soul.
as I stood at the door of "Go Deeper"
I heard the ego's howl of resistance,
felt the shivers of my false security
but knew there could be no other way.
inward I traveled, down, down,
drawn further into the truth
than I ever intended to go.
as I moved far and deep and long
eerie things long lain hidden 
jeered at me with shadowy voices,
while love I'd never envisioned
wrapped compassionate ribbons
'round my fearful, anxious heart.
further in I sank, to the depths,
past all my arrogance and confusion,
through all my questions and doubts, 
beyond all I held to be fact.
finally I stood before a new door:
the Hall of Oneness and Freedom.
uncertain and wary, I slowly opened,
discovering a space of welcoming light.
I entered the sacred inner room
where everything sings of Mystery.
no longer could I deny or resist
the decay of clenching control 
and the silent gasps of surrender.
there in that sacred place of my Self
Love of a lasting kind came forth, 
embracing me like a long beloved one
come home for the first time.
much that I thought to be "me"
crept to the corners and died.
in its place a Being named Peace
slipped beside and softly spoke my name:
"Welcome home, True Self,
I've been waiting for you."
---Joyce Rupp

Friday, December 1, 2017

Taking People Off Pedestals

For all of four days, I have been wearing mono vision contact lenses for the first time ever.  I have lost 3 pairs of prescription glasses since 2014.  Something had to give because they are expensive so I'm trying out contacts in a trial period.  It's a new world and my brain is adjusting to seeing up close with my left eye and distance from the right.  I have had a few headaches and my vision is slightly blurry but I know that this could be a really good thing.

I am very squeamish when it comes to eye issues.  But I am plowing ahead and perfecting how to hold the eye open without fail and look directly at my finger while I poke myself in the eye.  And that's the only way it seems to work, is going directly in.

With Sunglasses
Which also means I can't use my regular sunglasses that have readers in them.  I have been trying to use old pairs of George's, the girls, and now a new pair from Target.  Each pair exposes my world in a slightly different hue.  And it seems at this place in time, our South Louisiana trees are changing colors as they very subtlety do. And I have noticed that the red color is much brighter wearing particular pairs of sunglasses.  They are magnificent and bright and flawless.  Even just a touch of yellow to a green tree, can brighten it and make it seem golden.  I love to see a bright red tree.

But what is real?

Just likes these trees, I have had to adjust my vision to see myself, people around me and institutions.  Over the last years, I have had to learn to take people off of pedestals that I placed them on.  They didn't ask to be put on them, they just were.  (In some instances, they might like it though)  Some of these people or institutions had a power over me, which I then had to examine.  I expected perfection from them and from myself. And I was trapped waiting for something that would never happen.  

Without Sunglasses
I had to take the sunglasses off, and see the person or thing for who they are.  I had to look at myself and accept me for who I am, warts and all (and good things I couldn't see.)  I have to hold my eye open and look directly while I poke myself in the eye.  It is uncomfortable and unnerving as I dismantled old belief systems.  When I lost these old systems, I felt rudderless, angry, and discombobulated at times,  but there is such beauty and freedom in acceptance and authenticity.   The divine is there in authenticity or at least that is what I have found, but also what I have read from so many different sources.  Running around trying to be perfect is draining and disappointing and kept me in place not moving forward.  Waiting for people to be whom I wanted them to be, was so disappointing. Accepting what is, allows me to try new things that might actually give me what I was looking for in the first place. The tree without sunglasses may not be as bright, and you see the leaves that have fallen but there is still magnificence.  And in this very moment, I'm just noticing, how bright the sky is, in the picture without sunglasses.  ( I did have to wait for the right lighting though)

Wow, I didn't even plan that. I always thought the sunglass picture was more beautiful because of the brilliant red.  But now with examination,  I see the contrast with the beautiful blue sky instead of dark grey.  The best colors are brought out in authenticity.  The divine is in the very heart of authenticity.  Your light shines the brightest in authenticity.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pelicans Are All That and More

Since Friday, I have been under the weather. I stayed in bed all weekend.  I caught what Mallory had but she seems to recover from it more quickly than I.  For the first time this morning,  I feel like I'm coming out of it (or I'm taking the right combination of OTC meds, thank you cough suppressant medicine!) I still felt bad yesterday afternoon, but I was beginning to get stir crazy. Over the weekend, George had kept up with the girls and their activities, but Monday was here and it was my turn again. I knew Riley would want to get out the house.

After a morning of resting with the strenuous activity of cleaning out the DVR,  I saw pictures of pelicans at the LSU Lakes on Facebook and knew, this was it. I want to get out of the house and go see the pelicans.   I adore seeing the pelicans.  A few weeks ago while attending a meeting on campus, I exited the interstate at Dalrymple and unexpectedly  was overwhelmed to see many of them gathered.  It's an amazing sight.   I was planning to see them when I left the meeting. I was drawn to them and the quiet.  I was having anxiety over my upcoming Boston trip, and my to do list.  Sadly, they were not in the same location when I left the meeting.

Over the years, coming home after church, we have stopped a time or two to drive around and find them.  At least one time, it was quiet enough to see them and hear them even with the complaining.   The girls did not want to be there at all but I soaked it all in as quickly as possible.  I remember it being spectacular.  What was fabulous was to see and hear them fly.  It has stayed with me and I wanted more.

The pelicans are nature in all its glory doing it's thing. And it's a quiet activity.

And I adore the quiet.

I have learned I really need and am energized by the quiet.

I am an introvert and it is the only way for me to recover from being with people and all the noise of the world is to be alone, still with my thoughts.  I know this about myself but still try to deny it and fit in with others until I start to lose my mind.

During that recent Boston trip, my friends and I went to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum near Fenway Park.  It is four stories of art that Ms. Gardner collected over her lifetime, but in the middle of the museum which was her home is a magnificent atrium.  Each floor as I gazed at the art, I was drawn back to the open windows leading to the atrium in the center.  The atmosphere was hushed, I longed to go and sit and just take it in.  I don't know why I didn't listen to my intuition and do it.  If anybody, this group of ladies would completely understand my ducking out to sit and take it in.  I'm still learning to listen to my intuition and not do what I think I am supposed to do and do what I want to do.

Yesterday afternoon, Riley was willing to go see the pelicans.  I had to promise Mallory a treat and I didn't care how terrible it was that I was bribing her.  In the end, she agreed to go without a bribe because that's who she is. And we set off.  This could go really ugly really quickly because my near teen and teenager do not hold back on their displeasure if things don't work out.  We are learning though, that is life.  That is one of my missions, to teach them to roll with life and embrace what is.

I didn't know which way to go and that didn't matter.  We just went.  And we found them!  They weren't all in one place but I saw them.  I maneuvered a bit around the lakes to get more up close and personal as they moved themselves.

They do not stay in one place.  Why did I think they would?

I got some pictures, but I was really trying to take them in, into my consciousness just as they were.  I tried to do it quickly before the squawking started.  You know the kids, not the birds. I parked in a stranger's driveway which made the kids uncomfortable but I did it anyway. And I was able to take the picture below.  It was spectacular to watch the birds fly in and land on the water.

I am taking an oath right here, right now, to listen to my intuition as I'm steered to the healing quiet.

It is where the divine is.