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Former boyfriend visited me again. Talk of life's events since we were together in our twenties. We explained our relationships with siblings and offspring. Missing was talk about his wife. As if she doesn't exist. Not good. I said, when he comes back in September, I'd have THEM both over for dinner. He winced; said he'd rather it just be him. RED FLAG. I will not be party to his deceit. We are just old friends, nothing to be ashamed about, unless for him it's an escape fantasy. Probably. "Once the exit story has begun, there is no reverse button."
It's good to be me. It's good to appreciate what I have; enough stuff, enough food, good sleep, good health. Cute cat. And freedom; freedom to make little choices that I don't have to explain or cajole or justify. No one to bicker with. No one showing looks of disappointment or disapproval. No anger. How sweet life is alone. Went to a new friend's house this weekend: the most fabulous architecture and stunning views. I appreciated my reaction to it. I wasn't envious. It didn't touch my level of satisfaction. I am thoroughly content with my life as it is.
I think of the affection from my cat as love from the universe, or god, or from my ancestors. It feels like a vital energy force laying limp and purring over my shoulder. Every morning, adorably, he gives little meows before jumping into my bed. He snuggles his head on my neck and lays across my chest, vibrates his happiness to see me. I smile with the contentment of this little love; this blessing bestowed on me. Little Ronald is a powerful resource, like a light in the darkness, a glass of water for thirst. Pets are a magnificent balm.
I hate feeling invisible. It's like a thorn in my ego's side. An irritation that feels like there ought be an action to take. But, knowing as I do, that my ego is a bit of a child, I squelch it. BUT- the parents of the birthday girl are ignoring my request for clarification, tonight's teacher for drawing class hasn't answered one email in 3 days, so I don't know if she'll show, a retailer whose product I really want to sell in my store has ignored 2 phone calls and 2 emails. the sign store won't call me. ???? WTF?
My friend, Gretta is hiding out in the easy closet. I've been a good friend. When her life was crushing her, I phoned frequently. I took cues from her. When she said she didn't have the energy to do anything but stay focused on the next day, I understood and quit calling; no offense taken. Two months later, I called: Her life was getting on track; yay! new job, new friends. I said, "what good news. How come you didn't call to let me know?" She said she thought I was angry. Why hadn't she bothered to check it out?
Intuition leads me to follow an interest, an inkling. It takes a long walk on the path to an epiphany, but here it is: Art is the practice that can get you to integrate the rules of society and cultural with your own individual flare. It's the yin yang, but with the acknowledgement of the forbidden, the taboo, the pulling of
against the soul's longing for freedom and true acceptance. I'm so happy to have landed on this. I developed a pretty neat artistic rendering of it. It's my new logo. All my little theories fit neatly inside it.
How to make yourself miserable: Wish with all your mental energy that you had something you don't have. Keep that thought with you all day, everyday. Make up scenarios that provide evidence that you'd be happy if you had the missing thing. View everyone around you who has the coveted thing as happier, better, more valuable than you. Make your whole worth as a person based on that one missing thing. Build this belief until it seems that you just can't go on. You have sacrificed your total well being for this one stupid belief. It's fucking wrong. RIDICULOUSLY WRONG.
I'm closing the chapter on social work. I get brochures of all the exciting courses that are coming in the future...but now, realistically, why would I pay money for them? Or spend time learning something that I am letting go of. Truth be told, I don't have much confidence in the whole therapeutic field of talk therapy. The counselors can know the symptoms, know the nature of what needs to heal, but it's like leading a horse to water...and the horse doesn't want to drink because horse knows about thirst, and fears what well being might bring about.
Recently, my art contains a mix of corners and circles. I recognized the pattern with the help of my art therapist. Some contain the "squared circle" or the rounded square. I made this a logo for my store that, in 4 marks, depicts transformation, integration and inclusion. I know that to anyone else it's a nonplussed idea. But to me, for now, this simple symbol incorporates all that is me: It's acceptance of the rules, while honoring individuation, it's masculine, feminine and the need for both, it's black and white and grey, it's the flow with boundaries, it's mentorship. Eureka!
Is it a gift? I guess the intention is key. I've struggled for the past year about the issue of obligatory gifts to my past husband. The conundrum is threefold: 1. Buying gifts to satisfy the obligation of holiday acknowledgement just uses up resources and increases the need to store them. 2. I want to honor myself by living by my values (see # 1) 3. The relationship does not exist anymore. Period. Glad that's over. So, I found a perfectly great pair of golf sandals left in the garage by Ex. So I wrapped them up and sent them off!
Chipmunk drama overload. At least once a day, I look up to greet the entering cat and see, too late that he's got a mouthful of chipmunk. I can't say whether I'm happy or dismayed by the fact that they're not dead. In fact, they're usually quite lively. Cat is happy to have a what he considers a big upgrade in toy quality. Experience has taught that my first step is to catch the cat, instead of the chipmunk. Cat gets confined to a bedroom. Then, I open all the exit-ways and herd the chipmunk out the door. Hopefully.
The Return of Hair
I was prepared to be a monk. I kept choosing shorter and shorter hairstyles, or my stylist lead me there compassionately. Who knew, that as your hair gets really thin, the cowlicks stick up unmercifully? I was picturing myself with a bald head. I was identifying with my son, Jake who had to go through this. I stopped wearing makeup, since monks don't, and wouldn't it look unbalanced? I considered a wig; told stories about always wanting one. But! little hairs have made a comeback in the naked temple area. I think it was the Reike.
Social psychologist, Johnathon Haidt, talks about starting with an apology, or an admission of wrong doing when approaching a conflict. So, of course I apply this theory to my imagined encounter with my estranged sister. What would I apologize for? "I'm sorry I made a big deal about the money I thought your husband should pay for Dad's tools." That's all I've got. I've got 25 ideas about what she could apologize to me for. I've got a lifetime list of all the things and ways she did me wrong. The more memories that surface, the more I dislike her.
What is with old boyfriends? When I returned to my home state, my HS sweetheart actually knocked on my door...my husband called me to tell me! Since then, Doug, aka first college boyfriend facedbooked me. When I found out he was in a neighboring city, I stopped all communication. Then there was Steve, right guy, wrong religion according to 4 parents. Now, when I'm almost 62 yrs old, he has shown up at my store three times. And today, Brad, to whom I was married for 6 years, called and will be at store 2 weeks from today. REALLY?
Living without a past; hmmm, a break from all baggage. Disavow all previous relationships that were, or are mucked up with ill will or tangled with inappropriateness. Done. Then there would only be the future. As I write these words, it's like a beautiful melody settled into my soul. If the key to happiness is learning to stay in the present moment, then more than half the battle would be won. The past is deep and influential, stronger than imagining the future. What if one couldn't remember? What if I had amnesia? At this point in my life: perfect solution.
Today I was going to research my idea for a patent. I keep wondering if and how this idea would change the way I live my life if it was a stunning success (ie. I'm filthy rich.) Would I let my new artistic friends take over the art store and book a trip to Paris for 6 months? Would I stay longer and learn the language? There is nothing here to keep me, except a cat. Would I shape my travels by a pretext of studying relationships and art in different countries? Would I stay home, become a hermit? Pretend.
I have nine minutes before I have to leave for art class. Struggling to think of what I might teach tonight. Can kids get perspective? Maybe the one thing I want C. to learn is that it's all alright. Maybe we'll draw with long poles and practice saying, "Oh well,big deal." Then we could try to use the beautiful mistakes we made for a weird design or an abstract man. I really hate it when he starts to get pouty because his drawing isn't what he wanted it to be. I keep saying there are no mistakes in art.
After the thunderstorm early this morning, the humidity was thick. And in all the dankness, up from the basement came the putrid scent of a dead chipmunk. I spent an hour trying to sniff out the origin. Each movement of furniture or box, I had to brace myself for the find. No one could invent a worse way to spend the morning. Couldn't find it! And to top it off, Ronald the cat brought down another one, while I was occupied with finding the dead one. Really, Ronald? Love my cat, but still, this is an ongoing, almost intolerable nightmare.
An hour and a half art gathering at the store. One of monthly gatherings. I made $70 for 10 people. Hmmm. What I did right: I researched my subject, made demo tiles that showed a variety of techniques. I spent a lot of time setting up, so that participants had what they needed. I gave them variety. I tried to model the DIA approach, give what is necessary and let them go to town. It lasted for the proper amount of time. I let eveyone introduce themselves with descriptive adjective. Wrong: my teaching style is too succinct. People need MORE.
I have a young black cat who roams the outskirts of my house at night, then when the dawn breaks, I hear him meow outside in the back yard. Through the doggy door, He chants his meow in continuous squeaky, almost chirpy sounds, climbing the stairs, until he reaches the side of my bed. He carefully lands lightly on the very edge, next to my face. His head bows to press into my forehead. Hello! He purrs, climbs onto my chest for his morning massage. I can feel his vibration. I imagine we're both smiling in this ritual of comfort.
My mentor is coming to visit me. I contacted her, sight unseen, because she has a shop in another state that is exactly what I envisioned for my own shop. I paid her fee. She said, "I value my time at $100 an hour." And she asked for a 3 hour retainer. I sent it. It was the best money I ever spent. She is invested in my success. She shares connections, ideas on how to handle sticky situations, she listens with delight to my stories. She is making the effort to see my place. I feel honored. I'm blessed.
I've been asked three times now, "why are you doing this business?" I've learned that the only correct answer, the expected answer is, "To make money." To say otherwise, begs for a correction. My real answer is, "to enhance my life." Maybe it's my experience with hospice, or maybe it's just age, but I'm cognizant of the new relationships in my life, the great balance between alone time and interaction time, the comfort and the challenges. What a great breadth of experiences! Yes, I do think about money issues related to my future, but there are other kinds of wealth.
Secretly, I despise old ladies. Not old people...just the female gender. I realized that with luck and health, I would become one. I used to look at their bubble haired, gray heads and think that their words, their ideas were full of air: Inconsequential, superfluous and aggravating. They were an annoyance to me like the anathema of space and quiet. Now I think my displeasure at life or anger, needed a focus group; one that I couldn't relate to. Now I'm old and I have an affinity for those ladies. They are carriers of character forged by amazing lifetimes.
Today is the anniversary of the divorce. Ahh, what a wondrously free year it has been. There have been times when loneliness was a problem; a slow reckoning that my life, during the holidays, is bereft of relationships. I sometimes work to remember that there was a comfort in wrapping my life around another person's expectations and the following through with tradition. It's important. Now that I've experienced a whole (get it?) year, maybe this year I'll work on devising new getaways: retreats, conferences, film fests. I don't think life without vacations is good. Snob! Think of all the refuges!
The old lady sits and watches the crowd before her. She's not feeling a lack of attention. Or boredom. She is comfortable with whatever life presents to her. She is not showy. She doesn't need baubles to display to enhance her worth. Her ego has been tamed. She doesn't have the need to tell her stories. She is content, appreciative to be were she is. Old ladies can be mysterious. It's not that they have resigned to being ignored or invisible. No. They just know that they, like everyone else, are one small drop in the universal ocean of individuals.
Am I doing it right? This is the number one question that flows through my mind, I think, continuously. Whether I'm mowing the lawn, or posting on facebook. Even thinking about important people in my life, I question myself. Should I call? Better to lay low and wait until they call me? I gaze at my little cat, see how skinny he is and wonder, am I taking proper care of him? When my store is doing poorly, of course I doubt myself and note my lack of abilities. Even maintenance on my own body! Am I working out enough?
My mentor made a point of coming to my store from another state. I feel so blessed to have connected with her. She has had a similar business for over 15 years. She knows all the right things to say to a customer, she handles situations with finesse. I'm frantically taking notes, trying to capture her wisdom. She is paving the road for me, sharing all her resources, all the lessons she has learned through the, years. Pricing, profits, teaching about the materials, how to engage people who are just looking, signage, displays, advertising, staffing. A crucial turning point? Maybe.
I awoke at 4:00 am. Grabbed the phone by my bedside and started exploring new internet radio stations. The birds started chirping. Ronald hadn't yet made his appearance to greet me. The light of dawn and the taste for coffee got me out of bed. I opened all the windows wide to catch the cool morning air. I caught sight of Ronald rolling around in the grass in the front lawn. He came running toward his meal provider. Today is my day off. I should go somewhere. Maybe catch a movie, ride my bike at a park. Create variety.
Some energetic young lady, who has a flare for integrating kids with crafts, will make the store a hit with young families. Also, there will be a gregarious young man or woman who invites their friends for wine and art party every Friday evening. On Saturdays, after "All In ART" drop in time, I'll lead the Depressive Repressives into becoming Expressives. It will be kind, gentle enlightenment. In between the toddlers and the fun evening classes will be serious studio artists that focus on their art. Oh, and musical evening, where impromptu jamming attracts spellbound crowds.
A sparkling evening, with rain cleaned air, gusty winds, bright sunshine. It doesn't get any better than this. I'm hanging out in my backyard watching my cat groom, listening to the fresh tree leaves rustle. I remember, after living in CA for for maybe 4 years, we traveled 5 hours north to Mammoth. We arrived to a similar evening as this, only I hadn't heard the rustle of trees in the wind for so long, I had forgotten the sound. It was like being arriving back "home." Tantalizing. Oh, past memories are tantalizing. You can't go back. Memories are precious.
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