Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Easy Blog to Make 60 Posts for 2014.

This is a cheap shot so that I will reach 60 posts for the year!  But I do like what it says.  
Steps I have down pat: #2, #6
Steps with good progress: #1, #3, #5, #7
Steps to really focus on: #4

Blessings to you dear reader.  I look forward to 2015 with you!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Way I Look At Myself in the Mirror

The truth is the mirror has always been a really hard place.  And I NEVER, EVER, NEVER thought it would get any easier.  Yesterday, I read a sentiment of a female looking at an old picture of herself and she wondered how had she thought she was heavy at the time of the picture.

I've done the same thing.  I thought I was heavy in high school, and college, and in my thirties, etc.  And in the past, I have looked at those pictures and thought, wow, if I could only be at that weight now.

I could fly with that weight.

So evidently, in my teens, the body image distortion was already in place and thriving.  Negative thoughts about myself were abundantly flowing.

I have been wanting to really write about body image for 2-3 years now, but something has been holding me back.   I feel like I shouldn't have a voice because my BMI is higher than I would want.  Yet, I have been in groups of thin and average sized women recently and was startled to hear complaints that they are fat, and worried about how their clothes look, and they shouldn't be eating this food, etc.

Body image distortion (and issues with food) are abundant and pervasive.

And I think, "Well, I'm not the only one."  And then my critical self thinks, "Yes, but you do have some weight to lose so you have no right to an opinion." In years past, I felt it was necessary to announce to anyone that would listen, that I knew I needed to lose weight and how I was working on that.  It makes me shudder to think that I thought so little of my self.  The self that an abundantly loving divine presence made.

And Love is the answer after all.

After many diligent years and intentional work of learning to love myself unconditionally, the result has been a shift in my core belief and the thoughts in my head.  

Weight does not equal self worth.  I am not my weight.

Ohhh, I've hit a nerve.  Tears sprang to my eyes when I wrote that.  Coming to this truth has been so hard.  My therapist says body image is one of the issues that takes the longest to heal.    It's a booger.  (smile)  If you look at any media, there it is.  We as women, at every turn, are told we need to lose weight, look younger, defy aging, have larger breasts, etc.  That is one of the reasons I avoid commercials, among other things.

One way that I know that I'm healing my body image is by putting on a form fitting long gown and going out to a formal occasion.  This was a huge step.  I have done it a few times in the last few years and it was uncomfortable each time, I hesitated to go.   Yet at a point during the evening, I think, wow,  I'm having such a great time how can that be?   Even though there's more of me than I would like.  Am I allowed to have fun even though my dress size is double digits?  Am I allowed to have fun even though the local boutiques don't even carry something to fit me? 


(Pardon my French, the point just didn't seem the same without the swear word - Thanks Mr. Big!) 

Another way I know I'm healing is my yoga practice.  I have been choosing to go to yoga because my body wants to move.  (or walking, or bike riding, or turning on the music and dancing!)  I have to be very careful about making myself do any particular activity because "I'm supposed to."  As I have worked to diminish the crappy "supposed to" thoughts in my head, I have learned my body tells me pretty much every day that it wants to move.  And I'm hearing it and responding on most days.  And it feels delightful, empowering, joyful and strengthening.  So different than when I did it because I was "supposed to."  It's coming from a much healthier vantage and one that I look forward to instead of dreading.  (And my body will also tell me what food it needs for fuel as I have shed the diet mentality and supposed to's in that area as well.)

While practicing yoga in different studios, there tend to be large mirrors.  Form fitting clothing works best for yoga.  I unconsciously or consciously refrained from going many times because of the fear of the mirror, or what others would think, etc.   Here's the flummoxing part: in practice at a mirrored studio, in my head with my eyes closed, I feel lean and strong.  And then I open my eyes and the mirror does not match what's in my head.  This startled and shocked me the first few times it happened and it still does even now but to a lesser degree.

As my body has wanted to move and I listen, I have been practicing more regularly and moved up to the harder class.  Through this repeated exposure, I've been making friends with my appearance in the mirror.  Slowly, ever so slowly, over time, the thoughts that I'm not enough have been fading and ones that I am enough as I am have been forthcoming. And even with aches and pains here and there in my body, over time, the predominant feeling that has been emerging is one of strength.  The practice of yoga is not only strengthening my body, but my mind and my spirit.  It feels so freaking good to move through the positions, and it feels like a solid flow, as well as shaky, sweaty, catching, breathing hard and muscles aching.   I try poses even for just a few seconds that my head tells me I can't.  I hold that harder position and my body and mind grow.  The I can't begins to fall away.

I am flying in this body.


Letting Go Of What's Broken, Part 2

This is beginning to seep in. The most important part of it to me is that, "You get to laugh loudly, paint, write and create. You get to be yourself."

I LOVE writing.  I didn't start in earnest until five-six years ago.  This blog has been hugely important to me.  I process my life as I write.  Thank you for reading and commenting!

I was unauthentic the first half of my life.  I relied on following others, taking subtle signals from others on how to respond.  I did not know how to live my own life.  And I didn't even know that I wasn't living my own life.   I can see it so much more clearly now that I've been claiming myself for the last few years.  (I love the 40's!!)

I feared so much.  I lived in daily anxiety.  A few months ago,  I went to a party that was with a group that I am not usually extended an invitation.  George was working that night and I worked hard to find a date to go with me.  In the past, the first "no" would have halted the process and felt like a major rejection of me.  Yet I kept asking, I was determined to go.  Finally, a newer friend of mine was able to go.  God bless her, she is still friendly with me because I was so anxious about going and it came out as non-stop blathering.  I couldn't stop talking about my worries….

About going to a party??

When and how did I become this person?  (But that doesn't matter and I don't want to spend any more time figuring it out in my head, I just want to grow)  I didn't really understand what happened until the next day, and I processed my behavior and how anxious I was.  About half way through the party, I thought, do I really want to be here?  I  had been wanting to break through into this group for so long (with no real action on my part, just wishing and hoping) and here I was thinking, hmmm.  Do I want to be here?

And why did I want to be a part of this group so badly? Attractive FB pictures? The desire to be part of a tribe, to be part of a larger whole, to be connected with people?

This is part of figuring out who I am.  I have to try things and see how it goes and some may be just the ticket and some may not.  I recognize that there is a group that I belong to at church that I have felt at home with from the moment I sat down in the chair of their book study.  I can't say this strongly enough.  I FELT AT HOME FROM THE MOMENT I SAT DOWN.  The discussions that we have are exactly in line with passions of mine.   PASSIONS!  They give me support like I have never had, and they comment on who I am becoming and see me for who I am.   I walk in the door and they hug me and are glad to see me.  I have learned to have a voice in that class.  I speak up and say what's on my heart and it's not always pretty but they applaud me and my efforts and say the most warm, nurturing and loving things.  And I'm learning to do the same.  I am learning to be nurturing and warm.  I thought I was before but I wasn't in the way that I aspire to be or rather who I think I am deep inside where fear is not holding me back.

It's so much easier to love others when you love yourself.

And I have never attended any functions of this group that I was invited to.

There is a party tonight. I am making plans to go. And there will probably be nerves.  And that's okay.  I need to try this out.  It may or may not be the ticket but I won't know unless I try.


Friday, December 26, 2014

The World Would Be a Nicer Place If…

God is Light.  God is Love.
This sentiment is so healing for me. So simple, but so true for my religion battered me down before.
Following the light, leads me to abundant love.
Finding my authentic self, which is love at the core.  And connection with others and the entire planet because we are one.

This is deep.  So very deep but so very simple.


Letting Go Of What's Broken, Part 1

I have read this sentiment before, probably several times over the last few years.  I'm learning that growth is learning the same lessons again and again over time and each time it seeps in just a little deeper into my soul.  I look at it as a spiral and going deeper into the spiral.

When it first happens that a truth of life (an aha) that I had previously experienced comes my way again, I think to myself, "Seriously, this point again?!  I've been here, done this!"  But now it's a little easier, the second, third, fourth, fifth time around…

There are important people in my life that I just need to let go. Let go of who I want them to be.

I have been trying very hard to push for something that doesn't exist in reality.  It's my idea of what a relationship should look like.  It does exist for others that I see around me but that is why there should be no comparing my life with another's life.   There's a saying about doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result.  Yes, that's where I am.  And it can be very painful.

Some people are hard to let go.

Or rather it's the idea of some people.

So what keeps me from letting go.  Is it FEAR?   It's not that I haven't had these same thoughts about certain people multiple times over the years.  When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. (Maya Angelou) It's taken years to embrace the fear of letting it be.  Fear of the unknown.  If I let go of this person or situation, what will my life look like?  Will it be empty and have a void?

(And I've been concentrating so much on that void off and on for years anyway, what would happen if I put that energy towards someone who was open and responsive?)

The path I see clearly now, is that I have to continue grieving and let it go.  But who wants to grieve?   Who wants to volunteer for pain?  Our western culture has so many ways, and compulsions to avoid the uncomfortable emotions.   I just don't believe in that anymore and I don't want to do that anymore.  And I'm learning to feel everything that comes my way.  The joy, the despair, the anxiety, the peace, the calm, the fear, anger, etc. etc.  I'm learning to think differently about those feelings when they come up and allow them to flow through.

Yet the amazing thing in my experience is that letting go, then gets me to the very thing I wanted and needed in the first place but from unexpected sources.  I wake up and think, this person is providing me with exactly what I needed.  It was here all along. Wow!

Dorothy, you had it in you all along.

I had to let go of the old (thoughts) and embrace the new.

And it's so magical. Love abounds where you had no idea it's possible.  It's shows up in unexpected faces and places.  It is rich and sweet.

Letting go of what's broken, is making me whole.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Are You Trying To Tell Me There's No Dialogue in Ballet?

On Sunday, the family and I went to see the Nutcracker: a Tale from the Bayou, which is the Louisiana version of the production.  It had been many, many years since I had seen it.  Mallory through a school field trip had seen a shorter version and wanted to see all of it.  So at the last minute, I got tickets for the whole family to go.

Getting to the River Center Theater on Sunday afternoon was not pretty at all.  (Head lowers and eyes cut down)  At all.   I did not get ready on time.  (I was completely absorbed in finishing a Shutterfly photo album - which I did! but for some reason no one else was excited about that) But we were really late.  As we were trying to get in the car, it took five minutes for each ticket to print out and there were four of them… It was like watching paint dry.

My daughter is now twelve… Yes, we have entered new territory.  I won't say any more to respect her privacy.  Other than, this makes for many uncomfortable moments.  The ride to the Nutcracker was tension filled.  There were multiple issues going on in what felt like a teeny tiny space of our SUV.
(It's the most won-der-ful time of the year...)

We finally get there and enter the building and I hear over the loudspeaker that the production will be delayed fifteen minutes. Yes!  We were able to visit the bathroom, get to our seats, and visit with friends behind us with time to spare.  Karma was on my side this time.

The production begins and five minutes in, I ask Mallory, "Is there any dialogue? Are there any songs that will be sung?"  She shakes her head no.

No one will be speaking.

I had forgotten that the Nutcracker was…ballet.

What can I say, the Christmas season is crazy.  I forgot.

So I acclimate to this idea.  And begin to enjoy it. But during the second half, I remember a scene from my favorite show, "The Mindy Project." This scene just slays me.  And I have to put the kibosh on the memory of it before I lose it.

The back story is that these 2 men are from two groups of OB-GYNs who want to become the medical providers for this ballet troupe.  They were then invited to watch the four and a half hour practice.  Dr. Prentice cannot tolerate watching any longer…

"How come you're not helping her.  She clearly has some kind of a disability!!" 


Monday, December 22, 2014

Don't They Look So Innocent?

One afternoon last week, Mallory's friend came over after school to play for a little while.  It is standard operating procedure now to keep Brinkley separate from anyone who comes to the house because of his umm… biting history.  This afternoon, the dogs were in the backyard and I went out with his correction collar and leash to bring them inside.  Well, Brinkley had dug under our fence and was loose between the gap that resides between our neighbor's fence and ours.  I opened the back gate to grab him and Annie shot out like a cannon. (Annie apparently only shoots out for food or for freedom)
Panic arises in my stomach.  I picture in my head the last time Brinkley and Annie escaped.   Brinkley chased after a girl on a skate board whom he thought was playing with him and nipped her on the leg. He spent time in Dog Juvie (Animal Control).

This was a dark period in my life.  (smile)

It was the time, that I learned a big lesson.  Not only do I need boundaries with humans but I need boundaries with dogs too!

What to do? I grabbed Annie and put the leash on her.  Thankfully, she doesn't move as fast as Brinkley. Okay, how to catch Brinkley.

I yelled his name with authority as sternly as possible.  I would walk slowly and deliberately with Annie in tow and as soon as I got close, he would run off again.  Brinkley thought this was a game.

O M G.  How am I going to catch this dog with the beagle holding me back?

But I repeated the same measure over and over and finally he stopped and let me grab him.

My friend was sitting in my driveway and asked if she could take pictures.  I love the colors of the tree right above my head.  
Don't the dogs look so innocent. They look so tiny to how I have them in my head. These two small dogs have made such an impact in my family's life.
Brinkley the loyal barker and biter and Annie the timid, hungry one.
Unconditional love.  Brinkley that is.  Annie unconditionally loves food.  But she does make me laugh.


An Alien In The House

Being a parent is the hardest job there is.

Now I have an (almost) teenager.

A female. Twelve years of age.

I know there are worst things in life but this one rocks my boat right now.  At times, it is as if an alien has taken over her body (and her mouth.)

I have mentioned it to a few mothers.  Yesterday, I got the sign of the cross from a saleslady who had older daughters. (chuckle) Those little bits help me laugh and know, this too shall pass. It may take a few years but this too shall pass…

I can't go into too much detail because this is her private life and this is probably too much already. (uh oh)

I know she keeps it together at school and puts her guard down when she gets home.

She is finding herself.  These are the oh so awkward Middle School years.  I can look at pictures from just months ago and it is amazing how much physical transformation is taking place.

And what is going on in the inside?

When she acts herself right now, it pushes my buttons.  Somewhere, I am lost where my own development stopped.  I know that I never really broke free and emotionally individuated from my own parents.  This did not happen until my forties.  This is what consciousness is all about.  But I am slowly learning how to be present and when my anger, frustration come about in reaction, I try to stop and be with it.  I know my girl needs me to rise above.  And I'm working really hard to do so.

I'm getting a lot of practice. Heh heh heh.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

God's Not Dead

*spoiler alert*

Riley and I watched "God's Not Dead" a few weeks back.

After the viewing, I had post-traumatic stress flashbacks to the early 90's when I attended a "Heaven or Hell" production at a local Baptist church in town.  I went with my boyfriend at the time who was the same denomination as the church.  The show presented specific incidents where someone is facing death and if the person had not chosen correctly prior to that, their name was not in THE Big Book and they go to hell.    I poured an alcoholic beverage to help the tremors flow through.  I knew certain people had liked the movie.  I had a feeling that it would not be my cup of Christian tea.

My daughter wanted to watch the film as she heard about it from friends.  It was just the two of us and I said okay.  I watched it because she wanted to.  I thought I could handle it.

I couldn't.

In hindsight, my intuition knew better.  I should have told my husband to watch it with her, as he has no fundamentalist baggage.  Mine is a mile deep and an ocean wide.

Boundaries - I needed to uphold my boundaries even though it was something my child wanted.

The following definition would be helpful for you to understand why my viewing of God's Not Dead didn't go well:

Propaganda is information that is not impartial and used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis, or using loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented.

On a positive note,  it was filmed at LSU and the campus looked lovely but on a low note the plot was predictable, so very horribly predictable.  I can reach deep down and say some of the acting was good, I just didn't like the script.  Everyone who was an atheist was BAD,  everyone who was a Christian was GOOD.  Everyone was against the main character, the "Christian," including his parents and girlfriend.   It was so very black and white.  And the Christian was the victim.  And to put the shiny bow at the end of the movie, there was a death bed "come to Jesus" moment by the atheist professor who was hit by a car outside a Christian music concert.  There happened to be two preachers there on the street, one of whom could conveniently diagnose that the atheist's lungs were filling with blood and he was definitively dying in the next five minutes.   After a talk with one of the preachers, the atheist declared Jesus his savior just and he died on the street…

And that's the end of that story.

And special cameo appearancea by one of the Duck Dynasty couples whom I tried to block out entirely.

This movie pushed many of my fundamentalist baggage hot buttons. And it brought up all my fear roots and did nothing to bring up the abundant LOVE of God that I have been surprised and amazed by in the last few years.  And do you know what began healing my fundamentalist baggage?  Lo and behold, it was sitting in counseling with a Jewish therapist.   I had to strip away all of the misguided thinking that I had about God, myself and the world.  I needed someone to listen to me unconditionally.
Just like God does.

Abundant love is who God is and who we are if we can tap into it.   I had to change my very poor concept of God in order for the loving view of God to emerge because my thinking of God was just like this movie.  Simplistic, judgmental and out there. As long as you proclaim Jesus is King after you have been scared straight, everything will be all right.

That is just not what I've come to know about my Higher Power.

Deep down, way deeply down, I know that my snarkiness and anger is my pain coming out.  So many years, I lived in fear and my idea of God did not let me know that the Divine was within and abounds in love.

Not judgement but love.

I don't know why I never left the church, the pain goes so deep.  Well, yes I do know, I was too scared.
I think my fear of leaving was bigger.  Nonetheless, I have learned to listen to my intuition because if I can acknowledge it clearly, it is God talking to me.  I should have listened about this movie.  But that's okay.  I'm not perfect. Mistakes are made and learned from.

This blog has been sitting in my draft box for weeks. It's time to publish even if there is no bow to wrap it up, like at the end of this awful movie.  This is an ongoing journey for me to listen to the Divine within because that steers me on the path I need to be on.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Peace During The Chaos of Christmas

"At the still point, there the dance is." T.S. Eliot

It's the mad, mad Christmas season.  Way too much to do.

Way too much to do.

I now know myself that I need down time and quiet almost as much as I need oxygen.

I'm not kidding.

I have come to understand how very, very, utterly important it is.  It is when the best of me comes out.  (you know that thing… what do you call it? oh yeah- In touch with the Divine Inner Presence) That is when I feel peace and calm and everything feels right with the world.  I feel I can love the entire world and even those who are the most unloveable. (I find more and more that is myself)  It is when my creativity flows.  It is when I can cry and be sad or feel utter joy and gratitude or just sit and be.

And the way that it intermingles around those moments or hours or days of anxiety and fear that make the peaceful quiet moments even that much sweeter.

But I have to be still to feel it.  I have to be in the present moment.  Not worrying about the next thing.  Not worrying about what did or did not happen in the past. It has taken several years of a conscious shift in my thoughts to begin to do this on a regular basis. It takes so much practice, practice, and more practice.

To be in the present moment.

I treated myself and Mallory to a pedicure on Saturday afternoon.  I had been wanting to have my feet "worked on" for several weeks.   The family had gotten up and 6:00am that morning on a Saturday for Mallory and George to participate in the Girls on the Run race.  I lost my good $$ reading glasses on the field.  George and I had two Christmas parties to attend that night (an introvert's first world nightmare).  Mallory had a birthday party to go to in an hour and a half.  There was laundry out the wazoo that needed to be washed or folded or put away.  There were more Christmas presents to buy.  There were outside decorations to be put up.  There were more ornaments to be put on the tree.  There were boxes to be put away.  The house was (and is) a mess.  There were more Christmas cards to be addressed.  I had no idea what I was going to wear that night.  My hair had not been washed in several days.   There were more thoughts to be had in my head to figure out logistics, etc…and you get the idea…

And the Christmas music was blaring. (and it was not a soothing instrumental)

But as I sat with my feet soaking in the water and being tended to, I was so enthralled in the moment.  I put my head back, closed my eyes, ignored the crappy music and breathed deeply.  I had looked forward to this moment for several weeks.   It was a peace orgasm.  Even amongst the chaos, my mind settled down and I was IN THE MOMENT.  Many months ago, I had a FB acquaintance write about her first ever pedicure experience and the description of it was so detailed and her enjoyment and pleasure of the experience was eye-opening.  She was ecstatic at something I took for granted.

I can enjoy and be at peace with most anything I have to- if I change my thoughts about whatever it is.

Thoughts are so powerful.

If we can be in the present moment, the exquisiteness of being alive is overwhelming.

(And my toes are the prettiest shade of red.)


Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Stress: Part 2: (Relearning Who God Is)

I love that what struck me on FB yesterday was from Aha Parenting and essentially all about being in the present moment with your kids (not the shiny presents from Toys R Us)  It was fantastic advice.  And today, Father Rohr says what I have been coming to learn over the last 5 years - consciousness leads to God being right in front of me or rather God in me, in the present moment.

This is Father Rohr's meditation from today.  What I really like is bolded.

God Is Here and 
Thus Everywhere
Thursday, December 11, 2014

The last words Jesus spoke to his apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane were “Stay awake”; in fact he says it twice (Matthew 26:39-41). I believe the work of religion is, more than anything else, to keep you awake, alert, alive, conscious. Consciousness comes from a wholehearted surrender to the moment. If you’re conscious, you will experience God. I can’t prove God to you. But people who are present will experience the Presence. It’s largely a matter of letting go of our resistance to what the moment offers us.

To be here now is the simplest thing in the world and the hardest thing to teach. In many ways it is the very foundation of all religion and all spirituality. You cannot get there by any kind of worthiness contest whatsoever. You cannot get there; you can only be there. I am convinced that the purest form of spirituality is the ability to accept the “sacrament of the present moment” (as Jean-Pierre de Caussade called it) and to find God in what is right in front of me. At that level, there is almost nothing to argue about. In fact, argumentative religion proceeds from not being present.

It seems we all start out thinking of God as “out there.” Yet we also need to believe, even spatially, that God is “in here.” We must know that deeply before we can take the Now seriously. The reason we can trust the Now so much is because of the Incarnation and because of the Divine Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christians have been given the promise that the Word has become flesh, that God has entered into the human, and the human soul is the temple of God. This is Paul’s discovery (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), and it is repeated through various metaphors by every Christian mystic.

Father Rohr's teachings are a balm to my soul.  My idea of God was so battered that I cringe when I hear the word Christian.  My idea of a Christian for several years now has been that of one of a right wing fanatic with whom I disagree on about everything.  So I've had to step away from anyone who talks about Jesus too much.  I've had to step away from the Bible.  When the word, Jesus, pops up too many times it feels like propaganda.

I am relearning God.

This truth of being in the here and now, I understand.

It's Christmas and there is way too much to do. Christmas stress kicked in two days ago.  I thought I was going to keep the anxiety at bay but my old friend came back.  In years past, it came in late November, so the fact that it didn't kick in until December 9, is pro-gress!!  I have moments where my thoughts are all about the future - presents, cards, tasks, errands, events that need to be attended or attended to.  

But God (or higher power or divine presence)  is in the moment.

It's okay to get off track and my stomach will turn and my thoughts will spin.  I am human.  I find that if I am able to get quiet, the fears dissolve.  I also say, "All will be well, even if it's not."  It has taken several years of a very conscious mind shift to employ these techniques.  I don't want to live in fear and anxiety like I did for the first 40 years.  I needed this shift.   This is the second half of life.   I am so grateful for this shift of consciousness.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Stress, Part 1

It's that time of year.  Christmas stress.  Fa la la la la, la la la. Yuck.

It's the most wonderful time of the year…


I tried to keep it at bay.  I tried to say, "oh no, not this year." I'm going to remain calm and let it roll.  And it worked up until yesterday.  And then I felt this tension and irritability creep in.

Oh my gosh, there is TOO MUCH TO DO.

I sat down to start to write the annual Christmas letter.  It takes much drafting and tweaking.   I have been writing them for more than a decade.  It's a tradition that I love.  I have all of our old cards and the letters in chronological order in a Christmas album - and I don't usually have anything finished like that.  I thought, I just want to send my cards out,  do I have to write a letter?  My cards have been sitting in a box for over a week, waiting.

I have been working hard to keep it simple.  There is no perfectionism anymore.  I realized a few years back to let go of perfectionism.

In addition to the Christmas errands and duties which are multiplying right before my eyes.  There are other things that need to be taken care of.  And when I feel there is too much to do, or I get anxiety, I freeze.

That is not helpful for the to do list.  See I'm writing a blog instead of writing the letter.

To be continued