Monday, December 31, 2012

And the Election Helped Me Learn This...

Wow - am I the only one who learned this lesson this year?  It was helped along by watching the election play out.  People on FB were so adamant about their point of view.  My stomach would turn as I read those that opposed mine which is a very high number of my FB friends.

I watched my reaction as the election season played out and slowly began to react less and less.

We just have different opinions and that doesn't make anyone right or wrong or any less of a person.  Big lesson for me to learn.

I think I need to read more Nietzche.

A Magical Christmas in NYC!

Got back last night from our whirlwind trip to NYC.  We left Christmas day and after our flight was cancelled spent a bonus day but  we did get to see snow again!

Christmas Night
 I am still amazed by flying.  We leave New Orleans and three hours later are in New Jersey.  How crazy is that?  I really am amazed by it.

Empire State Building
New York Public Library
We covered much territory in four full days and it was a lot of fun.  Mastered the subway system.  Enjoyed our first Broadway plays, Mary Poppins and Annie and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular as well.

A little bit of excitement for me was seeing actress Rebel Wilson (and the actor who played her brother in "Bridesmaids") in a restaurant and on our bonus day, walking to the New York Public library, site of the wedding that did not take place in Sex and The City Movie.

Even better, I dealt with my fear of flights, elevators and crowded places and how holidays "should" be and what they "should" look like.  I finished what feels like the last act of busting through where and who I should be with on the holidays.

Fear came in and I let it depart lovingly.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Alone But Not Lonely

My last post about something "Big" was about finding my sense of self.  The above statement is so critically important to my sense of self.

I ate my feelings so I did not have to feel them.  I learned early on that my feelings were not acceptable so I avoided them at all costs.  This included sadness, fear, anxiety and joy as well.  When I started trying to feel them, I did not want to be alone with them.   It is the most uncomfortable practice to learn how to feel what you have stuffed for years and years.

I thought I HAD to have someone to talk to through the feelings.  Yet this can inhibit the process of allowing them through (with kindness.)  You can get bogged down in them and sometimes trying to be right when talking to someone else.  Finding out what touches a nerve in me especially with friends and family is usually the BEST way into a big aha of understanding about myself.   Because YOU CAN'T CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE and there are life situations that you can't change.

So, I am learning to handle the feelings (of a "garden variety") on my own.  It is very helpful to talk about them afterwards but I have found that if I tackle them alone (with kindness), they flow better.

It doesn't have to feel lonely though.  When you have yourself and you trust yourself and your intuition, you find people along the way who "get" you and your journey.

Oh and I have also found my higher power along the way...  Breaking down my baggage, I  have let  God come in.  Not that scary judging fearful God I grew up with but the presence of love that has surprised me again and again.  Have I told you lately how freeing that is?

This is Something Big...

I feel disjointed.  It's Christmas and that always brings something up.  It is our first Christmas without GaGa.  Grief comes up in small waves here and there.  I miss the healthy grandmother who was so active in our lives and she particularly loved Christmas.  She may not have remembered birthdays but she was all about Christmas with decorations, presents and baking.

My little family of four had decided to shake things up by heading way out of town ON Christmas morning because we want to.  In my mind's framework that I had growing up, this is completely off the rails.  And it is exactly what I need to do.

Yet it is uncomfortable.

I have moments of complete excitement and then I have phases of anxiety and paralysis.  In telling my friends about our plans, most comment with bright energy "Oh, how exciting, you are going to have such a fun time."  At times, their excitement is more palpable than mine and I use theirs to help me along.

There has been a dictate in my mind that says I am supposed to be with my family of origin at holidays, and somehow the family I originated had taken a back seat.  In the last years, I have broken with this dictate and each year it has gotten easier to go against the flow.  My family has taken precedence.  That is why this trip is particularly important.

I can also tell it is important because issues of anxiety are creeping in with claustrophobia related to flying, riding in elevators, being in enclosed spaces with lots of people.  I truly know I will be okay, but the thoughts still pop up and I have to work through them and bring the Xanax.  Even having my own prescription of Xanax AND knowing I can take it - has been many hurdles to overcome.

There are so many layers to what is going on right now.  I truly had no sense of self.  Now that I am gaining my sense of self, who I am, what I want, my likes and dislikes and accepting myself wholeheartedly,   I see how very little sense of self I had.  "You don't know you are there, until you are there"

This poem posted by one of my dear FB friends says it all:


All too frequently we relate like timid birds who don’t dare to leave the nest. Here we sit in a nest that’s getting pretty smelly and that hasn’t served its function for a very long time. No one is arriving to feed us. No one is protecting us and keeping us warm. And yet we keep hoping mother bird will arrive.

We could do ourselves the ultimate favor and finally get out of that nest. That this takes courage is obvious. That we could use some helpful hints is also clear. We may doubt that we’re up to being a warrior-in-training. But we can ask ourselves this question: “Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear?” '

from Pema Chodron

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

The cabin on the Gip Dunn property.
As we drove up to my parents on Thanksgiving Day, I mentioned to George that I wanted to get out of dodge.  After spending the week with the kids out of school, we needed to get out of the house. We decided to head up the next afternoon to the cabin that my dad built on family property many years ago.  The property has been handed down several generations.  We had never stayed overnight though.  Annie even made the trip with us.  The cabin did have running water and facilities(!) but no tv.  So we played games and cooked burgers on a grill.
During the night, the temperature dropped into the 30's and I made George light the fire in the pot bellied stove.  We slept on air mattresses and I could feel waves of cold air from underneath.  I could also hear creatures scampering on the tin roof.  Not a great night for sleeping, but a wonderful getaway for us all.  The next morning we met in town for breakfast with my parents and my brother and his family.  In my family of origin, we are cemetery aficionados.  We have ancestors on both sides of my parents' lines located in the same areas.  There are several cemeteries that we can visit.  My sister in law has done very detailed research on both sides and is extremely helpful in making family trees.

Riley appears to be as interested in history as I am and Mallory in her own seven year old way is too but also enjoyed having Annie the dog and her young cousins to interact with.  She also loved climbing in the back of the pickup trucks!  There is a little country in my city girl.
My parents, my brother and his family, the girls, Annie and I with George taking the picture.

Grave Of Isom "Gip"Dunn: 1850-1926
Cousin Jack, Annie and Mallory enjoying car technology!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Panic in the Yoga Room

(I am making up for lost time on Blogger.  I have missed writing a couple of weeks and it is so nice to know that the lessons are still with me and notes on my iPhone to help remember though.  I am trying to hit 70 blogs or more to match with the previous years.  If I continue to stay conscious, I think I am going to do it...)

Today was BIG for me and it is only 10am.

* I tried a new yoga class at a different Y. I didn't know anything about the teacher.

*I wore form fitting clothing out of necessity after having my shirt fall in my face during certain poses.

*I didn't put my mat at the back of the class.

*I practiced looking at myself in the mirror even with my squishy parts and remembered that my body is allowing me to move through these poses as I mentioned in the "Yoga in the Mirror" post.

At the end of the class during my FAVORITE part, shavasana,  I realized in a panic that the instructor had turned all the lights off and it was pitch black in the room.  There was a massive rain storm coming through during the class.  I had to struggle to hear the instructor through the class even though I was closest to him because the rain was so loud.  My thoughts began to be distressed. I wanted to bolt.  I don't like the dark.  I could feel my anxiety reaction, the one that occurs in my arms physically manifesting my fear.

And then I remembered what my therapist and I had discussed about anxiety last week.

Anxiety = not being in the present moment. 

This was so illuminating for me.  I think I have had such low grade anxiety for years because of all the time I spent worrying about what I could, couldn't do, obsessing over so much.
As I layed there in the most relaxing time of yoga, panicked, I focused on my thoughts.  I kept my eyes open and spotted the red exit sign and some small red lights of the stereo.  I did this until I relaxed a bit and I kept thinking things to keep me in the present...  I don't even really remember what it was but it worked.

I didn't relax to the extent that I normally do but I also didn't bolt.  (See I'm judging myself)  In the midst of my panic, I did think this is practice for my upcoming plane flights and elevator rides in NYC!  Those upcoming events  that could bring out my claustrophobia are what prompted me to bring it up with my therapist in the first place.

I never had put together that anxiety could flow through just like the other emotions that I have practiced allowing through.  This claustrophobic anxiety feels so physical and different from avoiding sadness or anger because the very specific triggers seem different.  I did not put it in the same category.  I do think that sometimes I will need the assistance of medication, for flights or somewhere else that my claustrophobia is too much and that is O-Kay.  It is nurturing myself through a situation beyond my control.  I don't have to white knuckle it and be miserable AND I don't want to keep myself from flying to new adventures.


Namaste with Cat Barging In the self portrait....

South Louisiana's Other Denomination

Back in November, my girls attended their first LSU football game and in my Facebook post, I joked that it could be deemed child neglect around here.  A friend put it better and said they were culturally disadvantaged.

Game day begins by finding sufficient purple and gold attire and then leaving the house at 10am.  And it is an all day affair for this particular 2:30pm afternoon kickoff.  Tailgating is a sporting event in it's own right here in South Louisiana.  There are generators running cooking devices with pots of gumbo, jambalaya, deep fried things and large flatscreen televisions.  And libations flow freely.  How fitting is the definition of libation for this occasion: the pouring of a liquid offering as a religious ritual.  

It occurred to me that my thought process of whether I needed to attend the games has evolved.

LSU Football is a religion in this area.  As a college coed, I remember the loneliness when I was not invited to go to a game and would be "left behind."  I was waiting for a guy to invite me, not forging ahead finding another group to go with, yet, maybe in hindsight, I really didn't want to go?  

I remember when George and I moved back to Baton Rouge in 2000, I felt like I was supposed to go to the games.  Some people live their lives around going to these games and many of them are our peers.  And I thought I was supposed to as well.  

But perhaps there was reason that I did not work so hard to find other means to go to the game.  As Garfield the cat would say, "It is a big fat hairy deal":  Securing tickets ($), a sitter if the kids are young ($) , finding a tailgate ($), a parking spot ($)  and then sitting and watching football for 3 hours.  


 Do I want to spend three hours watching football? I am a two time alumni of the university.  I love LSU.  Yet it is painstaking for me to sit and watch a football game for that long.  We were given advice to bring lots of cash to keep the kids entertained by the concession stand.  I was grateful that Mallory wanted to get up and down 6 times during the first half because I couldn't sit there that long either.  I was entertained by the sign in the bathroom!  Here is the picture from it -----

I loved bringing the girls and seeing all of the commotion though.  Ninety thousand of your best friends decked out in purple and gold.  Waiting behind the barricade to see the football team walk down Victory Hill.  Accidentally stopping at the prime spot to see the cheerleaders do their bit.  And then the drum major and Golden Girls as well.  And then the "piece de resistance" as the band marched by and played the Pregame, my absolute favorite.

I get chills each and everytime I hear the Golden Band from Tiger Land play the Pregame song.

Even though I love hearing that Golden Band play, I still walk to the beat of a different drum most of the time and that is O-Kay.  I don't have to waste any more time thinking I'm supposed to be somewhere because other people are.  We came and enjoyed the festivities and half of a game (!) and I don't feel the desire to do it again for quite some time and that is O-Kay.  The funny thing about evolving, I didn't realize I had stopped shaming myself about not going until we went to a game.

Don't know you are there, until you are there!

Listen closely and you can hear Mallory finding her loose tooth, figuring out the spelling of the band and me yelling.  We were way up high.  Riley and George had tickets across the stadium lower down.

We Can Escape To Another State?! I've Never Been To California!!

From Jeff Brown: "When there has been too much pain, we often forget that we have the built-in capacity to move through it to another state. God gave us tears to be cried, God gave us the capacity to express our anger, God gave us a vast range of emotional devices that, when healthily unleashed and expressed, can both clear the toxicity out of us, and also lead us to any lesson or experience of self-love living at the heart of them. In our authentic vulnerability lies our greatest power- the power to re-open and heal our hearts after loss and disappointment. Feeling the pain is an act of self-empowerment and the only way to make a break from the prison of repressed emotions, to make a break for inner freedom."

 I never believed that I could move through to another state.  Well, to be really truthful, I didn't know there was another state to be in.  I think I was stuck in the victim state for so long, I thought that was all there was.

When anything bad happened in my life, I thought I would be stuck there FOREVER. I couldn't get over it.  I am still awed when in large and small circumstances, I can allow the pain or other uncomfortable emotion to move through and not fight it, and it dissipates.  It happens and I still can't believe that it works.  For me, who has repressed emotions and stuffed them with food - this is so incredibly meaningful.   Self-love is the bomb! All other love flows through after we learn to love ourselves.  This paragraph has taken me the last several years to experience.  I GET IT!  And it takes practice again and again, because there is always something to come around the bend to practice on.

(And there's that vulnerability mentioned again - Brene Brown!!  Love that vulnerability, it is the portal to heal.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Yoga in the Mirror

I think I have taken yoga out of the "diet mentality" zone.

A few months ago in therapy, we talked about exercise and how sometimes at the same time as breaking free from the diet mentality, people will give up exercise.  For me it had been placed in the "supposed to" category.  Not good.  When you take diet mentality to the extreme I did and it becomes a way of life to restrict, fail, binge, and mentally deride yourself into shame over and over again, it makes sense.  I struggled with exercise in the same way as food.  In the same way that I knew I should be dieting, I knew I should be exercising because it's good for you.     Yet the instruction from my therapist was to move in actions and ways that feel good.  The directive was to find joy in movement.

I have been feeling a little more called to the mat lately.  I have been going to yoga because my body was calling me too!   I started by just getting on the floor at home and holding positions.  I worked up to a 15 minute DVD at home on occasion but this is the ugly process, I would deride myself and think,  "It's just 15 minutes, that's nothing, you should be doing more."

It takes a long time to stop that voice.  

When I do go to yoga, there are mirrors at the Y in the exercise room.  (I think yoga classes should not have mirrors but this is gym and not a yoga studio. )  As I have been contorted in positions instead of standing up straight, I see flesh in my middle area that I would not rather see and was actually shocked by my appearance in the beginning.  I work very hard to find clothes that do not cling to my body.  I think I have some form of body dysmorphia because the image in the mirror does not match with what I feel or think in my head.  I have been looking at this mirror at this Y in this way for a couple of years.  On Friday, I looked in the mirror and felt disappointed.  I thought I really need to shake this up.  I closed my eyes and FELT MY BODY.  I thought to myself, this exertion feels SO good. I feel the strength of my arms as it holds up my body.  As I confidently and smoothly flowed from pose to pose, I thought this feels good.  (Well, smoothly on most of the poses!) And then I opened my eyes again and thought this body with it's extra flesh IS DOING THIS.

This was just a moment but it was a beginning.  I need to consciously repeat this thought process.

I am beginning to understand how much work my body does for me but all I do is criticize it for it's appearance and compare it to others.

I think in that one moment of appreciation, I was practicing body self acceptance.  I hope to build on that.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Do You Sit Cross Legged During The Week?

I watched Deepak Chopra on Super Soul Sunday.  I have so many ahas from watching that particular show.  It is simply splendid.  The topic was meditation. Now this is the deal,  I don't sit cross legged and specifically meditate for a period of time each day. Yet  I have thought a few times over the last few years, I've got that covered.  I'm not going to worry that I'm lacking in this area.  

I just had intuition...

This was some of Deepak and Oprah's discussion:  
Meditation is in every spiritual tradition: “Be still and no that I am”
Centering Prayer - is in Christianity - especially with the Benedictine Monks (We have had classes at my Methodist church!)
There are breathing meditations, body awareness meditations, variations of mantra meditations.  (I'm learning that so much is about what we hold in the body - the body which we ignore!)

What is meditation: a "Simple Mental technique to go to the source of thought"  
Also Dr. Chopra said that prayer is us speaking to God, meditation is allowing the Spirit to speak to us - yet it speaks in silence and manifests in intuition, inspiration.    (In spirit,-enthusiasm.)  

Oh my, I get this!  Being in that place when you are open to God coming through - is when you listen to intuition, are creative, see beauty and so many other open hearted actions.

And then the kicker.  Oprah brings up Eckhart Tolle and living in the present moment.   Deepak says being ”In present Moment” which is Mindfulness - has same affect as meditation!!    The consequences of living mindfully are make conscious choices, and changing your life.  

It is simply amazing to have thoughts in your head, and then without warning, an author or an expert, says exactly what your thoughts have been and there is confirmation of a belief.  I wanted to jump up and down and do the happy dance.

A funny side note:  Running into people and they ask what I have been up to.  I am speechless to say what my mission has truly been.  Can I say that I have made it my mission to know myself, to be more spiritual.  How do you describe the above fantastic life lesson without sounding like a loon.  The seed is now planted to answer it truthfully.

Recently a new friend used the words "new ageish"  and I remembered that I haven't thought those words in a long time.  I guess that means I have crossed to the other side!  {grin}  

"You don't know you are there, until you are there"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Saint or Sinner?

On an episode of Super Soul Sunday, Oprah interviewed Iyanla Van Zant.  She acts as a healer yet with a completely different style than I was taught in graduate school.  She is actually a trained lawyer and not a therapist.  She calls and "thing" a "thing" and is quite enthralling but in my day the client would have run away, but this is TV.   I loved this physical demonstration of giving things over to God. It struck such a chord in me.  This first picture is how most people feel when they are told to give it all up to God.  This is a position of fear and shame.  You are a sinner, and you must do better.

This photo represents as it should be. "I give myself over to you God, take me I am yours, I greet you with excitement and LOVE!"

Wow, what an amazing difference.

With baby steps, I am turning towards this welcoming pose of God.  Baggage is being removed slowly and surely as I see and feel the light, and the love. And the shame is receding.

Recently in a book study with our new pastor at my church, the chapter suggests that instead of calling ourselves sinners, we should follow the mantra, "I am a Saint."  There were some who spoke up immediately and were tripped up because they do not want to give up the sin label.  I fully embraced the notion of being a saint at first.  I was enthralled by it so much that I sent a long email to the pastor which I would never have done in the past.  But a few days into the week, that way of thinking fell to the wayside.  I forgot.

It takes a long time to rewire the thinking process.  I see it happening bit by bit and I celebrate when it happens.  There was a great quote that said "You don't know you are there until you ARE there."  One day I will feel more like a saint than a sinner and on that day I will call it a "thing" because it will feel monumental.

I think I will post a note on my dashboard and mirror to remind myself of my sainthood daily.  I think it will help to have that in my face reminder.  We will see.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nurturance and Christmas...

On the first weekend of December this is how it went down: Friday night holiday open house, Saturday Morning Breakfast with Santa, Saturday night Sunday School Christmas Party, Sunday morning Advent lesson with meaningful meditation, Sunday night Monthly Covenant Group, Book Study Group AND delightful Hanging of the Greens service with Children's singing.

Yes, the Christmas season has started off with a bang.  I cannot keep this pace up.  I wanted to do each and every function yet I was exhausted.  During the whole weekend, I kept thinking I can't do this.  I can't keep up.  But if I tell myself this, my mind will struggle and work against me the whole time.   This much I have learned.  What you tell yourself, you believe.

So Saturday, when I started raising my voice with Mallory, I knew it was time to cocoon, and I did. I took to the bed and rested.  And still hanging over all of social time was: laundry, present buying, travel arrangements, and Christmas cards that are sitting in boxes.

As we were leaving church Sunday morning, I had a headache brewing, my throat hurt and again, I knew I needed to rest before the evening's functions, which I did.  That rest was going to keep me sane.

This was and is taking care of myself.    And then... George came in to complain about a task,  I didn't "complete."  In that moment,





and I expressed that vehemently.

Now, any number of gurus whom I have learned brilliant ideas from would say, "Do you want to engage in this disagreement in this moment?"  Perhaps George was saying his truth which I turned in my exhausted state into my faulty thought processes which are:  I'm not good enough and I can't keep up and doesn't everyone else handle this better than I do?  

With my new thought processing, what I could have done was lean back,  listen and acknowledge because what he was complaining about was something I agreed with but it was not going to happen in his time frame.

What I really really wanted and needed was some empathy and understanding.  What I heard was criticism and judgement.  As I come to know myself and have greater awareness is what I have missed most is nurturance.  My biggest lesson is that I HAVE TO GIVE IT TO MYSELF.  No one else can do it for me.  There are persons who are evolved and in that place themselves to give of themselves, but I don't know any of those people.  Ha Ha!!  AND importantly,  I would have to ask for it in clear language.

So today as I clean up the house, do laundry, work on the multitude of Christmas tasks, I have taken the time to sit down to write because I have missed it.  My last blog was November 18th - way too long ago. Writing is nurturing for me, and being creative energizes me.

So what have I learned?  Will I lean back and acknowledge the next time I am given critique?   I don't know.  I don't have to be perfect all the time, yet now there is the option to consider acknowledging what is being said and then asking for what I truly need in that moment as well.  And if it can't be given, I can still give it to myself.

Communication is so critical to relationships.  Yet it is so fundamentally hard to do with the right timing, tact and tone.  I am willing to try though.

May you be able to nurture yourself in whatever manner restores your soul during this hectic time of the holidays.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

GaGa's Butterflies

Caterpillar eating the milkweed bush we planted in honor of GaGa on what would have been her 80th birthday.

Look closely-amazing gold enhanced chrysalis!! 
Empty Chrysalis
I watched this particular monarch butterfly flit around the yard repeatedly.  I stood still and it danced around me!  I was waiting for it to light on me!

It has been 8 months since GaGa died.  I did not realize this until the Day Of Remembrance for the Saints of our church.  They read the names of the deceased and carried a banner with names and bells on it.  I cried and knew that it was okay to cry.  I cried a second time and thought okay, that was it, no more crying.  Then we sang the last hymn and what did it talk about...cocoons and butterflies, come on.

The third cry was the charm.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What would your obituary say?

I read the recent obituary of a woman who also happened to be a counselor.  There was a line that said she was a lover of God, nature, books and people.

All I could was think how would people describe me?

Whoa.  Food for thought.

Do I live in a manner that says I love God?  Or nature or books or people because all of those happen to be on my list as well.  Do I reflect how much I love my husband and daughters?   My other loves are the arts: music, movies, and theatre.  I love connecting with people.  I love the fact that I can now embrace crying, laughing and vulnerability whole-heartedly!!  I love writing this blog.  I love every hard earned aha that comes my way.

I have come to understand over the last four years how I have lived in a manner for 40 years that reflected how very fearful of life that I was.  My forties started a trek of learning what LOVE is.  It takes time to build those new proteins up in the brain though.   I do hope to progressively demonstrate God's love to those around me.   I know I spent a long time having loving thoughts in my head that never came out because I didn't know how.
I'm glad I read this particular obituary.  It was a wake up call.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Law of Attraction...

I am beginning to understand this.  When I give just a little opening for possibilities instead of negativity, I see what blossoms!  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Leaning Back

I had an aha experience while a "discussion"was going on.  George and I were having a disagreement and I utterly emotionally detached from it but remained completely in it.  I kept thinking to myself, I'm not getting upset, I'm not getting mad, how is this happening?   I can get really heated and yell and curse (sometimes) in an argument but in this one, when he raised his voice, I didn't match it.  Normally, a raised voice pushes every one of my buttons but this time, I stayed calm.  I was just aware of what was going on.

We discussed it briefly later in the day calmly and came to agreements about how we react to situations and each other.  It was a peaceful resolution.  I love that this is our work in progress.  We communicate and discuss our feelings and we listen to each other.

The below video is fantastic!  It describes the process so well.  I love, love, love the description of leaning back - does he even say that or is that how I picture it.  It is to me the full representation of having boundaries.  God bless boundaries!

In the still and quiet, there is God and that intuition comes forth and gives direction.  Good, good stuff.

This is Michael Singer on Super Soul Sunday on OWN channel.  His book is "The Untethered Soul"  I haven't read it but of course, own it and what he has said in interviews has resonated deeply with me.  I can only watch so much and then I take the time to absorb it.  Good, good stuff!

Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm Not As Young As I Think I Am

My mother never has had a problem with her age.  She has always announced proudly how old she is and will round up to the next year.  She has never dyed her hair either.  I have no problem stating my age, but I will hopefully dye my hair for many, many years to come.  It just doesn't look good natural, whatever that color would be now?

Yet lately, in regards to my age there have been several indicators that I am not as young as I think I am.

First, it appears that I have entered new hormonal territory.  My FSH is in perimenopausal range, so it's official!  Waiting to do a saliva test to get the real picture.   It doesn't really bother me that in a few years I will not be fertile anymore, but the symptoms do.  Symptoms that mixed company  and some non-mixed company aren't comfortable with hearing about out loud.  But there is jubilation on my part, when I find another woman who understands what I'm talking about it and we can laugh together (and share information!)

A second indicator of my youthfulness fading away was when Donna Summer died in May.  The mother of one of Mallory's classmates did not know who she was.  O...M...G...  I'm still stunned.  Not a music person, I guess?

Third, at a recent birthday party, while chatting with another mother of one of Mallory's classmates, it was discovered that we had both attended Silliman High School.  I was a graduate in 1986, and she was a graduate in... 2002.  Yes, 2002.  It's not that 16 years is that big of an age difference, it's that I just think that fellow parents are somewhere in the same ballpark as me.  Sixteen is NOT in the ballpark I imagined.

Lastly, I am officially wearing reading glasses because I HAVE to.  Not like a few years ago, when my eyeglass fetish was rampant and it was cute.  It is simply dramatic how much clearer the iPhone is when I wear those magnifiers.  And let me say, it is a whole process to learn how to wear them:  how far down the nose they should go, the tilt of the head to look at things further away,  putting them on, taking them off, keeping them smudge free, and keeping them in handy places.  It's a lot of work.

But, back to Donna Summer.  I was kinda sad for this mom who never knew the feeling of getting out there and dancing that "last dance."  I'm sure there had to be a song for her age bracket but come on, how can you beat The Queen of Disco?   I still have a distinct mental picture of myself either at the Sillman gym or one of the church halls, maybe around seventh, eighth grade?  Hoping, oh so hoping, to get asked to dance that last song of the night.  And I remember dancing my heart out, gyrating, sweating, smiling and enjoying every moment of it, and not wanting it to end.

Well, I don't wait to get asked to dance anymore.  We have our own dance parties and last night, Riley and I turned on the Sweet Home Alabama song and then the Queen.  I motioned for George and Mallory to join us.  The whole family moved in their own peculiar ways.  Mallory tries to get Annie the dog to dance.  I dance and keep the cats away from attacking Annie who I don't think is digging on Donna.

Sweet, sweet memories of my youth, and making new ones together with my family.

Although I may not be as young as I think I am, I will always enjoy disco and it is mattering less and less whether those around me understand that or not.  I find great joy and I amuse myself!!  That is a sure sign of aging, right?  But I do know when you find joy rising, grab ahold of it and enjoy the ride.

(The song was released in 1978.  I was ten years old.  Donna Summer, may she rest in peace, was still belting it out effortlessly in this tribute to David Foster in 2011. )

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Master Bath Remodel: During

And did I say that the process started the week I was working vacation bible school? Oy!  I'm still tired thinking of that week.

New hole drilled in the floor to move drain. 
Cabinets ripped out and made shorter to accomodate longer tub.
New Tub!!

No one said it would be a pretty process.

Which paint color??

Master Bathroom: The After!!

The 6 ft tub - the whole reason for the makeover!

Glass Shower with stone floor!

New granite, tile floor, bronze fixtures and framed mirror!

George's sink

New television- Mallory watches it the most!

Master Bathroom: Before

 These are the Master Bathroom Before pictures.  It's a "little" white and the walls were actually pale yellow.  The rest of the motif was black and white - I had it staged a couple of years ago when we thought we were going to sell.  I had previously had the walls a pretty slate blue.  I love blue!

My sink

The Problem: Corner Tub
Standard Shower - All White

Lighting not placed properly - Mirrors need updating.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It Just Takes Time...

Isn't it ironic how the state of your house reflects what is going on in your life personally?

This summer we undertook a major bath remodel and now things are progressing in that way where you continue to see things that need changing and the process goes on in smaller ways.

Once the Master Bath remodel decision was made, that was it, we are not going anywhere.  We have dug in and decided to make this our home for the next decade.  We got a new wood floor in our bedroom, the girls got new granite counters and mirrors in their bathrooms.  We are systematically changing out the fixtures throughout the house to bronze.  First it was door handles and this weekend, George changed out 57 door hinges.

And then, I begin to look at furniture.  I decided that the bright blue comfortable reclining chair and a half, does not fit the vision in the keeping room anymore.  George concurred and I began looking at fabrics.  I'm trying to match what is in the room already: flooring, paint, rug, couch and wall hanging.

The issue at hand is a large tapestry.  I bought it several years ago and I was quite proud of my purchase.  Designing my home space has moved from being daunting to quite exciting and challenging in a good way over the years.  Twelve years ago, the tapestry looked good.  Yet now I'm looking at the fabrics for the new chair and some of them are really appealing to me yet something is holding me back.  The ones I really like do not work with the whole room.

After I complained about "matching things", my designer finally suggests that I just need to take that tapestry off the wall.

That thought hadn't occurred to me.

What was once useful no longer works.

I thought the task of changing out 57 door hinges was herculean.  Counting the number that you need, getting to the store, and finding the "right" ones at the store.  George amazed me with drill in hand, how fast he changed out each one.   I was willing to put off this task for a long time because it was just too much, yet having all the parts match, looks so good.

A profound thought occurs...  Why have I always thought, "oh no, that's too much" before I think of the possibilities of taking action and saying "yes" first.  I have ALWAYS thought "I can't" before I have thought "I can."  For my whole life it seems I have operated from a place of no.  These NO thoughts have held me back and cluttered my brain with negativity for so long.  Yet, they are dissipating slowly and surely.

The tapestry is down and folded and will be donated.  The mission of finding just the right piece(s) has commenced.  One piece of art has already been bought and returned.  Upon walking out of the store with the second option, I glance up at the outside display, spotting just the right pieces and know that I will be back again to return what I just bought.

It takes time and practice to get it right, in the house and in the mind.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Well, Who Knew This Was Coming?

I had ultrasounds on Monday.  These are the first steps in figuring out where my body is and where I am in relation to....

This is where I would insert:  dunh, dunh, dunh, dunh....

Menopause (or really perimenopause to be correct)

It feels like I am beginning the journey of perimenopause.  My periods have gotten closer together in the last year and have gotten pretty heavy.  My breasts are tender for two weeks prior.  My acne is flaring up even on antibiotics that use to work.  And the thing that really drove me to action was mood swings.

With all of the changes due to aging the one shining star is that I am getting wiser.

I have done so much work to allow my feelings to flow through, I cannot tolerate what feels like an alien coming in and changing my personality.    Yes, I have a low tolerance for mood swings, that's me.

From what I hear and read, I am probably estrogen dominant and my progesterone production has slowed down.  Who knew that if those hormones do not stay in their delicate balance all hell breaks loose.  I bet those women who were burned at the stake for being witches did.  As George lovingly pointed out the term, hysterectomy.  Being out of balance does bring hysteria for some women and with good reason.

Years ago, I watched The Oprah Show with Dr. Christian Northrup and Suzanne Sommers.  They discussed bioidentical hormones among other things.  I am so glad I had this prior lesson so that is it easier to make decisions now.

From the ultrasound, I found out I had small fibroids, a slightly enlarged uterus and a complex cyst on my right ovary that needs a repeat ultrasound.  Not what I was expecting but luckily the treatment is the same for fibroids and approaching menopause and estrogen dominance...progesterone cream.  It is going to be my new friend.

Yesterday, I got the results from bloodwork on cycle day 3.  I can add slightly anemic to the growing list of symptoms and my FSH is in perimenopausal range.  The anemia really makes sense because I do feel like I have been dragging lately.  I thought I was just feeling old.

Now, on to a saliva test on Cycle Day we can get the treatment started.  I really want to start rubbing the progesterone cream into my arm so as to start the process but I have to wait until I have the test done to get an accurate reading.

Good things come to those who wait.  I didn't think progesterone would be on my list of good things so soon!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Maria Shriver and Pedestals

This weekend I heard a blip about Arnold Schwarzenegger and his new book and when Maria found out about the affair and the son he had with their housekeeper.  What startled me was that Maria found out during a therapy appointment as the therapist announced to Arnold that Maria wanted to know if that was his son. For me, it was that the therapist addressed it with Arnold and not Maria directly addressing Arnold.  In my mind, Maria was a tough cookie and would not have to have the therapist address it.  She's a Kennedy, for gosh sakes.  She's been a journalist. She's been friends with Oprah for years and years.  Why didn't she go to him directly or ask him directly in front of the therapist?

But none of those factors of being a Kennedy, etc. make her super human.  That was just my interpretation and gosh knows, I have had wrong interpretations about other people and more importantly, myself.  I have tended to put some people on pedestals.  And when I put other people on pedestals, that means they are above me.  Somehow, they were better than me, more together, had more friends, thinner, etc.

And I did not need to do that.

It's a really profound realization that everyone is equal.

Really, everyone is equal.  Some people have more money, nicer house, power, etc. but they are equally as human as the rest of us.  God created "them" just like he created me.  They put their pants on one leg at at a time.  They have to pee and poop just like the rest of us.  They will need a colonoscopy one day if they live long enough.

Maria had inquired about Arnold's infidelity but he had not responded truthfully and she used a third party to finally get to the truth.  No one really knows the truth about another person's marriage except the two people in the marriage.

I have been using a "third party" to come to the absolute truth that I am lovable, worthy and there are no need for pedestals.

It's a work in progress but one that I am learning to embrace.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Bow Came Off

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.  ~Kahlil Gibran

Wow- Chewing on this one a little bit.  I have had this post sitting as a draft for a few weeks and I had to, in order to fully accept the truth of Kahlil's statement.

The last two weeks, I came face to face with some lessons that I had visited and thought I had conquered already.  

Ha ha ha.  Conquered already.

Just when you think you have a deep personal truth wrapped up with a bow on it...Here it comes again, unwrapped.

One of my friends pointed out evolving is like a spiral and you do encounter some of the same issues again but at a different level and perspective.  I thought, geez, I had already covered this ground.  I thought I had moved on but alas, I had to revisit some core issues.  The good thing, is that it didn't hurt quite as much as it did the first time and I was able to come to the understanding sooner but evidently it was needed again to continue my journey. 

But I felt broken open and raw for several days.  These are not fun feelings to go through.  I would have done anything in the past to NOT feel that way, but now I see it is all part of the process.   Pain is inevitable in life.  It's how we waddle in it or learn to move on from it that makes all the difference.  I have been a waddler for a good portion of my life and now I'm gaining the skills to move on and actually gain strength and understanding from the pain.  It's new territory, it's not easy and it takes time to learn the skills  but it feels very freeing in the long run.

Postscript:  Feeling pain feels so monumental to me and I think today I was reminded why. My therapist told me that we as humans will do anything to avoid pain.  The research is there to back this up.  Even more than a desire for food, we will work harder to avoid pain.  I guess this answers why the journey of awakening that I'm on, is not a popular one.  But I am so thrilled when I find other pilgrims along the way!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Can't Even Talk About It"

Having one of those days where I am feeling raw feelings.  I walked past this Modern Family repeat episode and it made me smile enough to find it online, record, and upload to You Tube.  So here it is.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto by Brene Brown

I feel giddy that I found this manifesto this morning and I was absolutely wanting to jump up and down when I read it.  This is from Brene Brown and it says so much of what I am absolutely trying to do with my children and for myself!  You first have to love yourself wholeheartedly before you can share that love with your children (and everyone else!)   This is fantastic!  I wish I could make it a bigger font but this is as large as I could get it.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Everything you done to me already done to you"

It's been many years since I watched the Color Purple and it touched me back then but I want to watch it again coming from where I am now.  I am watching the latest OWN LifeClass and Oprah acts out a line in the movie. And this is it...
 "Everything you done to me already done to you"

This brings me to this topic which is I have been wanting to write about for some time.  It is Newton's Third Law of Motion - better known as action reaction.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  The energy you put out is coming back to you.  Some people call it Karma.

In an emotional way, it is when someone snaps at you - you want to snap back.  When someone is kind to you, you feel calm and have good feelings.  And on a larger level in your life, Gary Zukav explains it so well in this really short 50 second clip.

I have found this to be true.  In that, I have learned to be more open and loving and in comes back to me in the most random, unexpected and wonderful ways.  Just yesterday, in the past, I always have worried about making plans for holidays.  They make me feel lonely.  Labor Day is a holiday, albeit a minor one, and as George was working, the girls and I decided to go swimming at our club, and at the very last moment invited friends and they were able to come.  It was such a pleasant time at the pool.  I could not have pre-planned it any better.

But I had extended this invitation to them freely.  In the past, I would have been so hurt had they not been able to come. Now, I understand that I don't have to take it personally if they can't come, it is just circumstances.
I am so much more open now because I am stronger.  After our friends left, I had the blessing of running into a friend from church and we connected for just a few short minutes but it was packed with meaning.  We covered life's deepest topics in 10 minutes and then we departed.  I find that when I'm open and vulnerable somehow I meet up with other open and vulnerable people and the connection with others that I so desire just magically happens.  I have watched this happen so many times, I have become a believer.

I do believe now in Newton's Third Law especially as it applies to relationships.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Jumping in the Air

I knew I would learn things from having a dog, I had read about it.   I was walking her this morning after Hurricane Isaac slowly passed through our area.  Annie is a very skittish beagle.  She spends most of her time cowering from the cats, George (or most any man), loud noises, etc.   I thought about how much time this lovely little dog spent in fear.  I had an aha moment when I reached down to pick up the paper and she flinched at a noise.  I, like her, have lived so much of my life cowering, uncertain and crippled with fear.

It made me feel sad about Annie, and feel bittersweet for me.  I am coming out of it!  And it takes much diligent effort to work through these deeply ingrained feelings of inadequacy.   I am part of a wonderful private group on FB and there was a recent  discussion about fearing our feelings.  One person described it as a phobia.  I understand exactly what that meant.  When I had postpartum depression, I felt like I was losing control and life would never be the same.  After recovering from the depression to a "normal" state, PMS would then throw me into periods of massive uncertainty and questioning my thoughts.   I was so scared of them.  I think someone who had more self confidence would just be bitchy and move through it.  I was in agony thinking about why I felt that way and how I could get it to go away.

Also when I had a disagreement with someone, which rarely occurred because I would not speak up for myself, it devastated me, I didn't sleep and obsessed over the conversation.  I had learned never to speak up for myself even though really deep deep down I knew more.  Now I can see that it is just a difference of opinion and I can agree to disagree.   Someone else's opinion doesn't carry as much weight as it used to.  Codependency explains most of my behavior.  It took my therapist a year to tell me this information.  I guess that's how fragile I was.  I picked up the books and started going throughout their checklists, one symptom after the other, yes, yes, yes.  Okay, now I understood where I was, know how to move past it?

Food was my chosen numbing agent for these massively uncomfortable feelings.  And there is no quick fix to overcome this.  No diet can do the work to teach me how to love myself unconditionally.  That is my missing link and the work is hard but I am so passionate about overcoming this, it is a joy to embrace every aha and all of the pain and all of the peace.

Some of what I have learned is:
Learning acceptance of those around me for who they are,  not who I want them to be.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries for those people who I have thought could give me what I needed but are not able.
I needed to accept me for who I am and not what I thought others wanted me to be.  Being comfortable in my own skin and allow my authentic self to shine.
When I judge others it is just an extension of me judging myself.  And when I feel that from others - that is what they are doing to themselves as well.
Most every feeling I was numbing occurred much earlier in my life and circumstances would arise to take me back to that place in time and arrested development.
Feeling the feelings even if it feels like they will consume me, and allowing them to flow through.  It is an amazing process but takes much practice, practice, practice.
Realizing my thoughts (that ugly voice) are just thoughts and I can choose not to believe them and let them go as well.
I can give my own self the nurturing I lacked.
As I heal myself, I see God (higher power) and LOVE as the ultimate answer.  This is a huge difference from fearing God to seeing and feeling his LOVE.

All of the above have been so incredibly important to my journey.  I may be leaving something out but I'll come back to it another time.  It's time to go live life.

Just as I am learning to love all of me, and give myself unconditional love, I will continue to give it to Annie, the dog.  In the meantime, she does express massive joy when she greets us after we have been gone from the house.  She runs around so excitedly and jumps in the air in front of myself and the girls.  Her energy is palpable and you want to join in.

I feel that way too some days even without Annie. {big grin}

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Holy Cow! And this isn't about Chik fil a but that's coming.

Yesterday, I had a profound aha.  It was a message that I have heard over and over from various sources but yesterday was oh, so different.

I happened to watch a very small clip of the author Michael Singer on OWN's "Super Soul Sunday" from this past weekend.  An online friend had raved about it.  I don't remember exactly what he said but what I took away in the 5 minutes that I watched, was about the voice in my head and basically it is a separate entity.  It is the ego talking and you don't have to listen to it, you can choose to have different thoughts.

I have heard this before several times but this time, I saw it through in action in myself.

Yesterday afternoon, I hit a wall.  I was tired and overwhelmed, mentally and physically and felt like I couldn't go on. I wanted to crawl in the bed and let the world go away and it felt like I would need weeks to recover.  I started to list in my head everything that I have done this summer.  I was rationalizing why I should be tired.  I was comparing myself to other people, if someone else had done this then they would be tired too.  I have done this for many, many years.

And then I had a moment and decided I don't need to list it out.  If I am tired, then I am tired.  I don't need to find the reasons.

I just am...tired.

I cried a little bit.  My children walked in and I told them that I was tired.  They saw my tears.  The oldest was compassionate.  They both wanted to get out of the house and she had wanted to look for a backpack all day.  She said we could wait and go another day.  But after I had my little cry (and detached myself from my ego thoughts), I was ready to go.

I was ready to go?!  Holy cow!  How did that happen?  One moment I needed to take to the bed for at least several weeks to recover, the next, we were shopping at the mall.  I had a slight headache and didn't want to stay that long but I felt like a completely different person.

This is what acceptance must look and feel like.

After I decided to let the voice of comparison go, I accepted my tiredness and the feelings of being overwhelmed just dissipated.

Wow, holy cow.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

I turned forty four yesterday.  Wow!  I'm just now letting that number sink in.  Mallory made no comment about the largeness of the number and she will tell me the truth, God bless her old soul.  It did just strike me that it is getting close to fifty, you know how numbers do that.

I had my annual birthday tension two days ago.  It presented as being mad at my husband who had been off for the last week but went back to work on my birthday and was also on call which precluded us from an uninterrupted evening meal out.  I think I am also having PMS.  This IS a lethal combination.

This summer has been non-stop, and my birthday snuck up on me and I had not made my "take care of myself on my birthday" plans. The tension was really that I forgotten to take control of plans to make myself feel special which is what I have learned over the years.  As my six year old sage said to her sister months ago, "the only person who can change anything is you." So I found a sitter and made my spa reservations.   And decided that take out from my favorite restaurant will do.  I always have some preconceived ideas of what a birthday should look like and that is not what happens on my day.  I had to let those expectations go and move to reality.

Last year, we were at the beach on my birthday and it was fantastic.  I tried to do that again this year but George had to be a witness at a trial which is what messed up my plans royally.  In the end I just needed him to say he understood my disappointed feelings.  He did after instructions and magically, my birthday funk dissipated. It was also helped by a complete stranger at my daughter's back to school party who also validated my feelings of wanting to feel special on my birthday.  She completely got "it."

So after some acceptance of what "is", some validation, some plan making, I moved from the birthday blues to feeling gratitude on the day.  I had a wonderful day.  I enjoyed my quiet "me" spa time and then came home to an intimate surprise party. George had bought a cake and festive items the day before, and my sitter helped the girls decorate even more.  I got teary eyed opening THE sweetest cards.  I even got a birthday sash that declared my fabulousness!  I had a cat nap.  And then the girls were bored so we ran errands at the mall, and ended up meeting a tired George for supper.  

I was able to spend my birthday with the loves of my life.  I needed to take care of myself first though. I have to be the first love and then it makes all else flow well and it so much easier to come from a place of gratitude.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

All I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten...

We are on our last day at the beach!  It took me a few days to decompress when we got here.  I couldn't really enjoy the beauty or tranquility because I was on overload.  Before we left home, not only was I a guide for VBS with 400+ kids in attendance but our remodeling demolition started the same week.  There was children's energy and dust everywhere simultaneously.

Yes, these are first world problems.

Usually after a VBS morning, I take to the bed for some time to rest in the afternoon but that was not happening at all.  I ended up running errands every day and it was the kind of week where at the end of the day my legs (and mind) ached for stillness.  Each day random remodeling errands came up and needed to be taken care of especially since we were leaving town.

Yesterday, I was invited to a yoga class by a friend who has a condo at the place we are staying.  I really wanted to go as I have not been to a class in so long.  I practice at home using my 15 minute DVD.  I tell myself that a class is going to be too hard and I put up mental road blocks.  A while back I wrote about making it into something I was "supposed to" do because it is so good in so many ways for me which then killed it for me.  I no longer want to do anything that anybody tells me to do, even my own "shouldisms."

The night before yoga, I had gone to bed with a newly acquired cold and loaded up on Nyquil.  Also, my knees started bothering me about 2 months ago.  I started taking Condroitin/Glucosamine  several weeks ago to see if that helped and it did, until I played in the Gulf in the waves and uneven sand.  My right hand now gets achy in the middle if I use it without proper form.  I have to watch what I do with it, like not pick up 18x18 floor tiles pincher style.

Oh, and that first day of VBS,  I picked up Annie the dog to put her into her kennel for safety away from all of the male workers, and have had lower back pain ever since.  Our sweet beagle weighs 25 pounds.

So snot running down my face, achy back, achy knees and hand,  do I go to yoga?   As I pulled on the now necessary reader glasses to figure out the adult dosage for children's daytime cold medicine, it struck me that this is the marrow of life that I have to accept.  How I accept these aches and pains and snot, (or even worse things) are how the quality of my life will be.  Acceptance has become my new mantra.  It has become so clear to me that my thoughts shape my life.

I think of all of the years that I spent my time thinking I couldn't.  Yet I can.

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything.  What we think we become" ~Buddha

He was one righteous dude.

I totally enjoyed the yoga class.  And at VBS as I walked around with four classes of Kindergarteners all week, I was reminded once again that everything we need to know in life we learn in kindergarten.

I got chills listening to this song.  And I loved that the sign for free is one from yoga.  I had a good time learning all the movements too!  Mallory has the short curly blond hair  and denim blue shirt and looks slightly disinterested.  Riley is in red shirt with blond hair swept back in a pony tail.