Monday, September 27, 2010

To Read And Remember

I'm writing this from a bank of computers at the public library. My favourite librarian with her familiar right sided limp, just stopped to chat for a few minutes. Libraries have always been a haven for me although this big, new library is not as comforting as its crowded older edition. I like to feel hugged by a building and it just doesn't feel that way when the ceiling is 25 feet high above me.

It was a slow kind of day at work, the first of its kind since I started back to work last month. It was a nice change. There are times of the year when I can sit at my desk and read. This isn't one of them but it will come around again. Then I will be wishing for something to keep me busy. I'll take busy over bored any day.

In a little while I'll go look through the children's section of books. I have many favourite illustrators. One of my favourites is Tomie dePaola. I like children's books just as much as adult ones. Somewhere out in our shed I have a plastic container full of children's books. Dearest one wanted to chuck them because we haven't seen them for 5 years but I got all defensive and owly about it because I might not have room for them now but I will some day.

When I was a kid I used to bring home a stack of books from the library. I was so disappointed when I'd gone through the entire young adult section of the library. I think my biggest take home stack was 25 books. My mom was not impressed. She was the one who got the phone calls about overdue books. She was the only one of us who wasn't a reader. I remember once reading a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay in a weekly paper and being so struck by it that I wrote her a letter. I was only 15 years too late. Her name went on my list of must read books.

I still keep such a list. Books I hope to read one day. Wish lists online, too. I have a stack of books balanced on my knees as I type. Pity only a few will fit between me and the computer desk. Ah, there isn't time to read many anymore but lately I've had the pleasure of reading a few. I hope you have, too.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Crazy On You

"...crazy on you......let me go crazy, crazy on you...."

I was in a grocery store this week when Crazy On You played across the speakers. I stopped and just listened, transported back to my teenage years lying in bed with my ear to a radio. Funny how music can make one feel like they've time travelled.

Most of the music from those years holds no appeal to me now but every now and then a song comes along that makes me feel 15 again.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

A Gazillion Times A Day

I was taking minutes in an all day meeting this week and had to remind myself that I wasn't being paid to offer my opinion. I was being paid to record what others were saying. I thought I was less opinionated than I used to be but really I'm continually learning that the world will survive without me voicing my opinion, that's all.

Group dynamics are an interesting thing to observe when all you're there for is to observe, not contribute. Watching one person take things personally and confuse the issue with their very own selves gave me food for thought because I am much more like that person than like any other person in the meeting. I felt both compassion and irritation at her lack of awareness. What is that saying? There's how you see yourself, there's how others see you, there's how you think others see you and there's how you are.

I have two friends who drilled it into my head for years before I believed them, that what I thought of myself was far more important than what others thought of me. When I realized how much negative self talk I had going on I started to believe them. When you hear someone say out loud that they are such an idiot, stupid,......fill in the blank, then you can be sure what's going on in their head is much worse and more insistent. And they probably don't even know it. I had to train myself to recognize my internal negative self talk and re frame it or discount it altogether. In the beginning it was like being interrupted a gazillion times a day.

I'm of the belief that only when we get honest about ourselves can we like ourselves. For myself, personally, going to Confession has been the biggest gift in learning to like myself as I am. Which most likely makes no sense to some people who mistakenly believe that confession is a guilt trip, shame inducing, totally pointless thing to do because after all, Jesus has already forgiven us.

And really that`s the point. Knowing I was already forgiven (because if it`s up to me and not in the Hands of Mercy then I`ll quit trying right now) didn`t help cause that was a head knowledge thing. But process, the gut honest things I have said in Confession and received absolution for, has been so freeing and helped me own who I am in my humanity. It made it a heart thing. My shadow side doesn`t freak me out so much anymore. It`s just there. And always will be, so I can stop pretending that being a Christian makes it go away.

We all need someone, somewhere, to hear who we are at our worst and still accept us in order to even begin to change at a heart level. At least I did. Before that I was too busy spending energy on denying what I was capable of doing, what I had done. And if I didn't believe underneath it all that God loves me exactly as I am then I wouldn't even try. Man, I have cried some gut wrenching tears during absolution, God`s love so tender and full of mercy and impossible to comprehend.

(My apologies to Catholic apologists if I am slaughtering Church teaching. There was a time when I could and wanted to get all technical about all things Catholic (as in wanting to memorize the big green Catechism of the Catholic Church so I could have an answer to everything) and eventually I decided I just needed to live my story and hope to love in the process. People`s eyes tend to glaze over when I get technical or I get on my high and mighty need to be right horse and so far I haven`t learned how to be gracious and technical.)

Okay, time to chuckle, because this post is all about my opinion. It has to land somewhere. My head would explode otherwise.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ten Things

I need some kind of topic and this will have to do. If you have any questions for me that would be suitable for the blog leave them in the comments and I'll answer them in a future post! I am out of ideas!

Ten things about me:

1. If it was socially acceptable to wear pjs everywhere, I would. I most often clean house in my pajamas. Which explains why, when my MIL and FIL knocked on my door yesterday afternoon, I was still in mine. I had just finished cleaning house and was trying to decide between a shower and some computer time. Had I chosen shower I would have been much more presentable.

2. Making commitments to sit on boards and committees is not on my fun list. Even so I've been on several and am just wrapping one of those up this weekend. The amount of internal and external whining I am doing, reminding myself just how glad I am to be done, done, is embarrassing.

3. While memorizing numbers comes easy to me, keeping track of money makes my anxiety level rise. But I bit the bullet this morning and spent the time it took to record the last two weeks worth of purchases, bills paid, etc. into the spread sheet. I am always so relieved when it's done. Makes me think of a line by M. Scott Peck about the greater amount of energy it takes to avoid doing an unpleasant task than it does to just do it. So true.

4. I used to have the book that thought came from but who knows where it is now. I have bought more books than any other single item in my lifetime. Even when I was a poor college student I had a shelf of books. I am much pickier now about the books I shell out money for. I go into bookstores with a pen and paper and then order books I think I might like from the library. Rarely do I then buy a copy for my personal library. My dad says that makes me his daughter.

5. My arms are covered in freckles. I have never been embarrassed by freckles. They really aren't that common. Just me and my dad have them in my family of origin. I passed them on, too.

6. I strongly dislike being a passenger in any vehicle unless it's dearest one driving. Otherwise I am a bundle of nerves the whole trip. That's not too much of an exaggeration either. Just ask my kids. One of them had a driving instructor who told them I was banned from being in the vehicle while they were learning how to drive. The other two probably wish I had been.

7. I do like road trips though. I've been on the go far too much lately so it doesn't appeal to me at the moment. I am going out of town for work this week though and then making a longer road trip early next month. That one has a bonus of seeing a dog and a girl at least!

8. I find exercise a chore. I am always glad when I'm finished, glad I did it. My two favourites are walking and yoga. I used to play sports when I was younger. My mom put up with a gazillion basketball shots hitting the outside of the house right above where she sat inside in the living room, for years. I have no idea how she didn't scream out the window at me to stop. But she never did. That is medal worthy. Especially during PMS. When I used to get that I couldn't even tolerate the noise of cutlery scraping on plates at the dinner table. It sounded so loud. Basketballs would have sent me around the bend.

9. There were 41 robins on the lawn the other day. I was in town so I missed them. I grew up in a bird watching house and paid little attention to it. I regret that now. I have a 40 year old bird book from my grandma that sits on a shelf in my living room. The basics I can identify but the difference between this and that sparrow? Not a chance.

10. With dearest one being laid up this week I am finding out we share many more of the household tasks than I'd realized. It's taken one of us out for the count for me to see that. That is such a long ways from where we started and something I quite like. I think he does, too. After all, it means his socks don't go missing in the laundry any more.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another Family

Thursday already. I woke up as tired as I went to bed. Hopefully that will dissipate as the day goes on.
Yesterday I rushed around like a mad woman to get out the door on time only to sit in my car, double check my appointment times, then realize I had the wrong day altogether! But I had already made some commitments around my appointments so I went anyway. It meant that I got to my mid week home group meeting and that was a really nice change. Work has been too busy for me to slip away for an hour.

Dearest one is recuperating nicely from surgery. Just stubborn. So we are having a match of the stubborns. He is the kind of person who has a hard time sitting still at the best of times. Now, when he has to, I can see why it is so hard.

When he was in surgery I came down to the main area of the hospital and there sat someone I recognized from the program although I had never talked to him. I sat down beside him and we had the greatest conversation. I love when conversations go deep immediately. Maybe it was the setting we were in. Another member was recuperating from surgery and all day I saw members coming to visit him. How blessed we are to have another family to surround us in times like this.

The threat of snow hasn't materialized yet so that is a gift. I'd at least like to see the Harvest Moon before I see snow. Wouldn't you? It did freeze the night before last though. Ice on the windshield in September. Welcome to northern Canada.

Today is a busy day full of appointments. All self care appointments which makes me feel spoiled. Tonight is a bridal shower for a relative. Happy things to keep me busy.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

A Good Day

"Today's gonna be a good day."
That was the lyric going through my head this morning as I woke up. I'd made my way to the bathroom hoping it was still the middle of the night but when I looked at the alarm clock it was only minutes until my alarm went off. Nevertheless that song lyric popped into my mind as my day started.

And it was.

My coworkers got together and showed their appreciation for all the hard work I've done the past few weeks by gifting me with a certificate to a local Spa. I'm not good at opening cards or gifts in front of others so for a moment I turned my back on all of them while I opened the card. Their kindness really touched me.

It was one of those work days when the work kept piling up and I felt like I wasn't even treading water at points. In the middle of that, in a lull, dearest one called to let me know someone had phoned me at home needing to talk about their problem with alcohol. I was able to slip away in private and return her call. It had to be Divinely led because of how that call went and how my story and hers intersected. You know when things pop out of your mouth and are unplanned and unexpected? The kicker was when she told me she was putting my number away for safekeeping right next to the word hope. Kind of gave me goose bumps, that did. I offered to stay in town and meet her at a meeting. She took me up on it only to call later and cancel. I hope to hear her voice again. I had to remind myself that we carry the message not the person. I so want today to be her bottom.

If you are the praying type please remember dearest one tomorrow in your prayers. He is having surgery tomorrow. He'll be off work quite a while recuperating. While it is not life threatening I think any time one goes under anaesthetic one faces their mortality. I am hoping he is pain free soon. I doubt he knows what that feels like anymore. It's been years.

Tonight we went out for supper to celebrate it being nearly 30 years since we got engaged. I was a teenager back then. I thought I was so grown up. I want to be a ballet dancer when I grow up. I've said that since I was a young girl. My mom used to laugh at me when I told her that. I probably said it the most often when I was in that awkward stage of adolescence when ones limbs are gangly and don't seem to fit the body they're attached to. I said that as often as I told her I wanted a nose job for Christmas or my birthday. I said it for years. Today I never give my nose a thought. It still looks the same as ever but I've changed. Today I take my wish to be a ballet dancer as having its roots in being about the beauty of the movement and about the inherent grace in it as well.

And today I feel beautiful and graceful so maybe my wish came true after all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Treasure Trove

"You know, Hope, just live in this moment. After all, you could be dead before tomorrow."

"Hey, that's right! I could be dead and then I wouldn't have to deal with this would I?"

Oh, lovely thoughts that come into my head when I am feeling stressed to the max. Thoughts that sometimes make me laugh right in the midst of gut churning and heart racing anxiety about something I have no control over and have no idea how it's going to turn out.

I am very grateful to be in recovery.

It helped me delete an entire paragraph in an email where I had been trying to deflect my stuff by pointing out someone else's. I sat here and told myself that all I could do was own my stuff. End of sentence. So I deleted a paragraph that I'd thought might work in my favour in the situation. My side of the street. That's what I'm responsible for.

It doesn't absolve me of consequences. It doesn't even make it turn out pretty. But even in the midst of it all I feel clear about what's mine to own and what isn't.

I wrote the above about an hour ago. Then I made a phone call and found out that the gut churning, heart racing anxiety had not been founded in the reality of the situation. There were no dire consequences. There weren't even any consequences. The situation had been resolved by my email and then the whole thing vanished like a thin puff of smoke. The other person laughed and waved it away as it hadn't been a huge concern to them in the first place.

Yesterday, when it all started, I asked myself if this bodily reaction was what I felt as a child growing up in an abusive home. Instantly I knew I spent most of my childhood with my gut churning and that high level of anxiety running through my body. I felt a deep sorrow about this because I'd never recognized it before. Even typing that makes me teary. I can't remember the last time I thought I was in trouble and that bodily reaction came so instantaneous.

It took a lot of talking and praying to separate my childhood reaction from what was happening yesterday. It really bothered me that once I was clear in my head my body was still on high alert. For hours.

I spent the evening with a group of friends and talked it out. As the conversation shifted to the rest of the group and I sat quietly listening to where our journeys intersected my body relaxed enough that I was left with perhaps 5% of the original anxiety.

I prayed before I went to sleep. I didn't sleep well. The situation was on my mind the moment I woke up. I went to sleep and dreamed about the person and the situation. I woke up with more than a touch of gut churning and heart racing. Dearest one prayed with me and then lit prayer candles before heading to work.

And then I made the phone call and everything was okay.

I've been reading this book a little bit every night before I go to sleep. Last night I read:
" can use anything - everything - as a wake up call; you can find a treasure trove of information about yourself and the world in the big trials and the little annoyances of daily life. If you turn around and face yourself in times of loss and pain, you will be given the key to a more truthful - and therefore a more joyful - life."

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Meditation Song

I like most everything this singer/songwriter produces. His songs have often been a comfort to me. I'm not a big fan of Christian music (the term Christian is not an adjective. grrrr) as much of it seems to have cheesy lyrics not based in reality. But songs like this one do. I came across this song online tonight and remembered it being a balm to me more than once.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Lit For You

These are our prayer candles. If you've ever asked for prayer or if I've prayed for you then there's a good chance one of these has been lit in your name. Sometimes I have one candle just for people who have lost their spouses. I told God not too long ago that I was sick of lighting that candle. Not that I was tired of praying for them but I felt overwhelmed by how many people I knew who were widowed. Sometimes I light one and ask prayers for all the bloggers I "know".

For some people ritual is frowned upon but for me it is comforting. The ritual of lighting these candles can be both comforting and disturbing, depending on the needs of those I pray for. And sometimes there are just no words to pray. Which is in itself a prayer.

Lord have mercy.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Answer Would Be "No"

"I wish I could go home and have a drink to relax."

That's the thought that went through my head on the way home every night this week. I didn't freak out at the thought, because a drink was not what I was after, but I did let myself sit with the thought. I wondered what was it beneath it that I was looking for. What was it about the scenario that was attractive to me? The previous week I had sat in a bar with coworkers as they closed their evening with a drink while I sipped on peppermint tea. I found the scene such a foreign feeling that I excused myself early and went to bed. I wonder if being in that setting had prompted my thoughts.

This week I have worked double and a bit more hours than I normally do. By yesterday late afternoon I had handled 350 pieces of paper. Most of them 4 times once you include photocopying, scanning, signing, double checking. They are still in a pile waiting to be filed now. All that to say it has been a very busy week. I have driven home exhausted every evening. I have never worked a Saturday in this job until yesterday. It was wonderful to leave my desk finally cleared of papers yesterday afternoon and go home.

The second night that thought above went through my mind I realized what I was looking for was some way to reward myself for the hard work I was doing. I was craving recognition and reward. So I got creative. I wanted a beta endorphin boost. I went and picked fresh veggies in my garden and dug potatoes for supper. An hour from ground to table. What a treat! Another night I got home and forced myself to put on my running shoes and went for a walk. That helped. I spent an evening with a group of friends. We did a lot of talking and belly laughing and ended the evening in prayer. By Thursday, when the thought was still rattling around in my head, I booked a massage for yesterday. A treat I have not had in several years.

And then came Friday. As I pulled to a stop at a red light there was that thought once again. I asked myself what was it I was looking for. Out of nowhere came a question,

"Has going home and relaxing with a drink ever been your experience?"

I started to laugh. Um, the answer would be no. It was never even a goal. I can't relate to it one bit. I can relate to drinking to get drunk. Drinking as fast as I can guzzle them. Drinking to numb the feelings.

But relaxing and having a drink, no. I had been romanticising an experience that was foreign to me. And with that the thought stopped harassing me. It still makes me laugh.

Yesterday I went to work early and then stopped part way through my day to have my massage (it was wonderful,I booked another one) and then went to my home group meeting where I shared this week's experience. I was so grateful to have a place where I could go and be honest and get understanding in return. I went back to the office with a lighter heart.

Now I have two days off to relax and refresh. I slept past 6 AM and soon family will be here to spend the day with us. Tomorrow I will tackle things that need to be done before work comes around again. I have a garden that needs cleaning out. There are simple every day chores to be done. Life is good.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Giving My Head A Shake

"How about I forget to send it in the courier and by the time it eventually gets there all will be good?"

I'd gone into her office and shut the door behind me to ask her perspective on my newfangled plan to help someone through a loophole I designed myself.

"But if they ask me on the other end I'll have to lie and say oops, I forgot. I'll know I conveniently forgot,not accidentally forgot. Okay, so that's not going to happen. Scratch that plan. I have to sleep at night."

My boss smiles at me. She knows that I'm a stickler for having my integrity intact at the end of the day. Not sure why forgetting on purpose became a viable option in my own mind to begin with, although if I told you the whole story you might see why, but the bottom line was it instantly became a non option when I realized I might have to lie to cover my butt down the road. If I hadn't thought it through out loud with my boss I might not have seen that and then would've slipped through the loophole only to fess up when I realized what I'd done.

I know in the whole scheme of life most people would look at the situation and think what is the big deal. So a piece of paper gets sent a week late and it helps someone out. On the other end that slip of paper being a week late is really not a big deal. It wouldn't make a difference to them in the long run. But I'd know my motivation and intention and well, there you go. I was grateful for some clarity before it all potentially blew up in my face.

I handled so many pieces of paper today that I left them in a stack on my desk to deal with tomorrow. Although tomorrow will see another stack as high to add to it. By day's end I couldn't think straight and instead of spending any energy on getting tomorrow's day ready I left the papers on my desk, locked the office and came home. I am once again counting the time until I can go to sleep. I am grateful this weariness is temporary.

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It's just after midnight.
I was in bed shortly after 8 pm , sound asleep in no time and now I'm not.
I hope sleep comes back soon.
Tomorrow will be my busiest day of work for the year.
I look forward to it and will be glad when it's over.

When I went home a few weeks ago
to celebrate my dad's milestone birthday
I visited with two of his cousins.
My dad's cousins can be counted on one hand
and I don't remember meeting but one of them
in all my growing up years.

These two cousins and I sat and visited for nearly 2 hours straight.
The first time I'd had a more than surface level conversation
with anyone from my dad's side of the family. Ever.
It was wonderful. A real gift.

It's been a painstaking journey for me learning how to make small talk.
I have to work at it. Social courtesies still seeem like a mystery to me much of the time. Below the surface level conversation comes much easier.

I also have to work at remembering to ask about the other person. It's literally a mental note I think in nearly every conversation I have. "Ask them how they are. Ask them the question they just asked you."

One of the gems in the conversation with the cousins was that one of them told me she thought it was a common family trait to struggle with being socially adept. Which strikes me as funny right now, seeing as we share the same last name and had to get to a certain level of social adeptness to even have that conversation.

But have it we did and were both blessed because of it.
I love it when an unexpected blessing is plopped in my lap.
I love it when I have eyes to see it and an open heart to receive it.

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