PRINCESS CASTLE

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So focused on her painting, after washing her hands she stood in front of me forlorn. That’s when I noticed the jeans, floor, even socks, soaked, and a puddle below the sink. I was patient, though that’s not always the case. Out came the mop, and to her credit, she handled all the rest; complete change of clothes including socks. We survived. Watching her paint or play with her dolls, causes a chuckle and smiles that erupt from deep within.

Here’s last night’s carving project. Samuel and I are now ready for the Trick or Treater’s tomorrow night. We live out in the country so the only ones ringing our doorbell are our grandchildren and another couple with their two little girls. But they make us the first stop, stay for cider, donuts, treats and little gifts, then go on their way to the other relatives and into town. A lot of fun even in the preparation and anticipation. 

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SOOTHING-RELAXING

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My friend Sue, who passed away, would not spend time doing puzzles. She felt she had to be more productive. I don’t mind wiling away my time doing them as long as the pieces are bigger and there are not too many of them. I don’t feel it’s a waste of time, especially since the activity calms me and my anxious mind. I find coloring provides that settled feeling along with my mosaics too. So if an activity soothes, it is not a waste, as it’s producing chemicals in the brain that help me be a more productive, happy person. That’s my math. 

How do you guard your head space? The problem is, being calm enough to sit still to do it. Though my physical space, my home, is not invaded by unwanted others, my own thoughts are the culprits to upsetting my peace causing anxiousness, uneasiness, or restlessness. It’s my thoughts I have to work on and guard against.

One phone call, and I’m upset for hours. A secretary at the dental office telling me I have to pay for something I don’t have to and never did. And I believe she knows this yet it’s easier for her to collect my money instead of her putting the bill into the insurance the correct way…something as simple as that can set me off. But is it really that simple? What is going on here, what is activated inside me?

It’s not the money, it’s the lie. Or my belief she lied to make her own life easier. 

I had my card out ready to pay for something that I knew I didn’t owe, yet I held off, telling her I needed to research it. When I called back, no apologies, though she did relay that the office made a mistake when I pinned her down and pressed the issue. 

Others, too many, just about all others, will take advantage of you if you let them, and this includes friends and family. She certainly was ready to. It’s the lie. Others may call it a little fib and think nothing of it, yet this is the type of thing over the years that causes a huge wallop in my day. I’m top heavy with having things taken, too much heaped on, more lies, treachery, deceit, more being taken when I have nothing else to give. If you keep taking more I’ll evaporate. 

As I stew over the interchange, wishing I had known the perfect thing to say during the second call, instead of thanking her for steamrolling me, I worked on the puzzle, a gift from my son. Feel the love. Yet I thought of all the years this kind of thing would unlock my rage always there at the ready, rattling in my cage. I would be upset for days over a remark, even by a stranger. Then I’d calm until the next one.

Mind control. Self talk. No, you handled it alright. No, I wish I had said this, and this, and this…. and it goes on like that with my head bent over the puzzle. Breathe. Sputter. Breathe. 

Samuel said, “Call back again.”

When have I ever seen Samuel upset with someone, either on the phone, or in person? Never. He stews internally, and it comes out in other negative ways. So no, I won’t call back a third time.

As the pieces fit in, my breathing slows, and I calm. These things are what make me leave a practice, then wish I hadn’t. Because humans are everywhere. It’s how I deal with them that has to change.

I don’t like how she handled it. I thought I could trust her. I thought she was honest. The kind of people I like are rare. They are the ones who won’t take advantage even if you allow it. That’s character. 

So I calmed enough to extinguish thoughts of leaving the practice, but I will continue to be very wary of her.

I said to Samuel, “You have to always be on guard with people.”

And he answered, “Yes.”

Well, I didn’t know that. I always was on guard, but lacked the internal skills to prevent being taken advantage of. He always had those skills, not because he raged as if hopping on hot coals, but because his internal world had not been shattered, the piece strewn in a thousand directions. He remains intact alongside the foibles of others, while I fall apart. That has never changed, not really. Trust remains an issue.

So the evening wore on as I worked on the puzzle, interrupting Samuel’s movie less and less as I realized he was not feeling this was the end of the world, nor should I. And I decided that I need not leave the practice over this. That wouldn’t hurt her, the secretary, or the dentist. Well, I’ll just leave, I’ll show you. Lie to me, lose my business.   Would she care? Would the dentist ever even know? Or would my actions only hurt myself.

That has been a recurring issue for me that I would like to put to rest, yet the phone calls keep coming, the interactions that involve discrepancies, disagreements, and conflict keep coming. It’s how I deal with them that I can learn to control and monitor. And that smooths out over time as I evolve, becoming more forgiving, more accepting of myself so then others, more centered, more able to speak when confronted with others ‘stuff’, and so many other factors that improve as I grow.

In the meantime, another puzzle?

EXPANSE

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I sit under the full spectrum lights, reading blogs, stroking my cat Molly next to me, and Samuel is off to work on the five days a month he can work while still receiving retirement. The frost is definitely on the pumpkins this morning. A day without my grand-daughter, or Samuel. I take a deep breath– no pressures, no job, no people. For a woman who has spent much of her life lonely, I now treasure aloneness, thrive in it, expand with it, feel full. What will today bring?

Yesterday was the picture perfect fall day… crisp, sunny and oh, so still. You could hear the tall rushes along the creek gently sweep against each other as our canoe slipped by.

“I just want to sit for a few minutes Samuel, “I said.

He stops his paddle. The quiet seeps in, the chirp of birds, the sun warming my back. The water has risen allowing passage to the pond, and under the road through the culverts. We scare off a blue heron and stare as its long leafy wings take it farther away where it feels safe and can fish in private.

He holds the boat as I get out and goes up one path but I sit awhile, craving that feeling that has escaped me these past weeks, a solidness, centeredness. I’m not there yet, but it’s coming as my body adjusts to the shorter days, and grief wears on.

What does it mean, to age gracefully? Whatever it is, I don’t have it. Both of us deal with our body’s frailties, it’s not pretty. So how do those agile, smiling aged people do it? Stages of life. I don’t want to go back and raise a child 24/7. No. That’s hard too. Each stage is hard, has challenges, but also rewards. I do the best that I can, and it takes courage.  

I don’t have to try to be like anyone else. I used to try. I don’t now. I am me, still discovering me. Still leaning things about my armor, how it protects me, how it always will. And I’m OK with that. I plan to enjoy all that I can, until I can’t. I’m not going to pound myself for not being like her, him, or anyone else. I am me. Things happened which changed me. And that is that.

At a garage sale the other day with Samuel, I was looking at an outrageously ugly withered old watering can full of old, brittle dried flowers that looked more like weeds. It was extremely top heavy due to a gorgeous garden gazing ball stuck in it. I pulled it out thinking I’d ask the owner how much it was. The lady came over, grabbed it out of my hand and began trying to put it back in, fussing over it, very upset with me.

“This goes together! Now you’ve ruined it!” she exclaimed in exasperation with my audacity.

I didn’t think, I just reacted, for a miraculous change, I spoke up.

“Hey, take it easy! I didn’t kill anyone!” I retorted angrily, indignantly.

She eventually apologized, and also sold me the gazing ball separately for two bucks. People are weird, and have their own stuff. Wow, it’s taken me so long to see, believe and understand, that every negative interaction is not about me. Very often it’s other people’s stuff.

And I don’t have to hate them for having stuff. I can accept that they too have stuff, and it’s alright. This is something others already know, like Samuel and my sons, and just about anybody else I’ve observed. But for me, in my castle, all armored, allowing others in because of their stuff, their craziness, was just too much. It still is. I guard myself from others because my shields are not dependable. Their stuff invades no matter how hard I try to not let it.

But this was miraculous. That I spoke up without censor. Something I’ve watched others do all my life, or as long as I remember, yet I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried. I felt so powerful, so whole, that the feeling usually trapped, came right up and out, just how it’s supposed to. When it hurts, say ouch. So simple, yet so hard for me, trained to do the opposite.

Canoe

LOST AND NUMB

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I lost myself. Couldn’t or didn’t get back in my body, my soul, the center, that feeling place until now. It started 2 weeks ago when I made trays of cookies and a platter of ham for the bereaved family, and I ate cookies. And more and more throughout the day, feeling sick, numb… and the habit since eight years old took over. Eat, feel numb. Hate myself. Preferable to the present pain of loss.

Where and what happened to that ‘kindness’ towards myself? Gone. Hate and disgust, and not in my body. Not in the moment. Entrapped in numbness, away from me, a third dimension I know how to live in when the going gets rough. So familiar with it, I choose it, or it chooses me, and I stay there till it’s safe to come out. To now, in me, and it’s OK. OK to be back in me. The best I can do is go about the motions until I come back.

FALL

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As the leaves fall, so do I. I know this to be true every year, every fall, but it crawled up and slapped me. Use the lights. Yes, I walk in the sunshine, but I need to remember to focus on my daily needs. One half hour watching news at 7am with the lightbox, meditate, which has fallen off the last few days, and walking.

I walk the meadow and wonder at my body’s failings. My legs feel funny, a tingling in the feet, like two wooden tree stumps I tell to move one step then another. It is scary when the body fails. When my mind, emotions and spirit are young but the body isn’t. It surprises me.

While moving slowly along the path of crunchy leaves, open hear shaped hickory nuts, a leaf wafting down overhead, I talk realities in my mind, a conversation with myself. At 62 people contract ravaging disease, are in pain, die. You don’t know how long you have or what the quality of your life will be.

It is hard, this loss of strength. Walk more? Exercise more? Yet I know when my legs act up they need rest. Have I caused my own demise? When my friend died, now almost three years ago, I stopped moving, or caring about much of anything. Did a few years of lack of movement, and listlessness bring this on? I remember farther back when I went to the gym trying to incorporate the same exercise that once sustained me, a good work-out on the stair-stepper or my five-mile jog, and the aftereffects of a few days of bent over soreness because my joints couldn’t take it. So no. I don’t believe two years of mourning my friend with the hopelessness and lethargy associated with it caused my problems now.

But I also know the tingling is not good either. Walk to make the circulation better. But after lap 4 I give in to the fatigue. Though I love my grand-daughter dearly, after 4 hours I’m ready for Mother to come. But she’s two hours late because she has a conference with a parent. To be attentive and present for that amount of time exhausts me. Later I snap at Samuel and say terrible things, ricocheting back to my old ways, my foul mouth, my foul mood. Irritable and tired we scrap over silly things, or the big things have piled up so it’s a little thing that makes us blow.

“You are hard to live with,” he mutters.

“Move out! If I’m so hard to live with, leave,” I snipe back with immediacy, hardly any emotion, just a statement of fact.

Why I am not abhorred at my mouth, my words. I’m freaking tired is why. I’m just irritable, tired, and having a hard time moving. And I’m blaming my own self for this overweight, achy body, which could be just as achy if 60 pounds thinner, but maybe not.

Although whatever is going on will proceed anyway with a lighter body, change is in the air. I cannot drag around this excess in body and be happy. I need change. I will find it, provide it, do it. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. This time not with a feeling of scarcity, but with a feeling of fullness, wholeness, and generosity; of giving to myself, not taking away. I won’t yearn and dream of food, because I’ve learned to give to myself what that yearning really represented, self-love, self-caring, self-nurturing, a place inside to call home.