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At some point you stop wanting to be someone else, even your better self and stand up to reality. You are you. Deal with it. It comes after too much striving to please, too many articles about improving, so many books that you know will you'll never read. Maybe improvement is the new religion and you discover yourself to be an atheist. Stand tall. You're free. You'll become a vintage soul with deep character instead of some timid, striving, clawing, almost there character. There is no one to do the measuring or evaluation. There is no prize at the end.
I like my ego, now; reshaped into a small compact, use it if you need it package. It doesn't bulge out, uncontrolled into areas that don't concern it. It seems as though, as I've become a bigger person, my ego has (thankfully) diminished. I don't need to set things right. I don't need to stand up for my honor-so often. I don't need to react immediately-ever. I can shape my thoughts to minimize impact, to examine instead of react. I feel a comfort in my skin that wasn't there before. Painful journeys build character and help one evolve.
Dear j, Here's what I've been working on: I don't know if I've told you, but two of my friends have cancer. This has lead me to a more mature self, one that realizes that mortality is reality. I have prepared an advanced directive. I've named you as the primary decision maker and friend N. as the second. It feels personal to share with you my deepest desire for this critical juncture in life. To share it with you, I'd at least need your interest, which at this time, I'm not feeling. If you want to pass, N. is willing.
The power of words: listen to your phrases. Next time anyone asks, "how's it going?" meaning the store, I'm going to answer quite honestly that it's going very well. The measure can't be just monetary gain. It's a pleasant occupation, not too demanding, always hopeful, providing opportunities to meet interesting people, It provides me with an escape from isolation, it feels like I'm answering my calling. I'm doing great. I expect to do even better in the future. This will help give the appearance of liveliness and energy. It will attract more people. Positivity is in my control. Use it.
What did I used to do between dinner and going to bed? These summer evening stretch out forever. Why is TV watching acceptable in the winter, but not in the summer? One, because there's nothing on in the summer---since I don't have cable. And two, being outside in good weather trumps inside any day. Maybe part of my strategy for evening hours used to be making plans to get away from former spouse. Now, there's nothing to escape but boredom. This sounds like a good problem to have and an easy one to remedy. Write, read, paint, sketch, walk.
Being older, having less energy makes physically demanding projects harder to start. Now, I try to trick myself and it often works. I want to tackle the backyard clean up, so I tell myself just do 5 things. Once I get going. I keep going even if by the end, I'm moving in slow motion. Today, I had to drag myself up the stairs for a shower. REALLY tired. The nice weather demands that I enjoy the outdoors and I've got nothing fun to do. I should go to the beach or a metro park. Singlehood is tough. Not lonely.
My friend Tammy tells me her dream. It's of being adventurous and then letting fear overcome you and running for shelter. She has cancer. Our eyes met, like they never had before. She doesn't do well with eye contact, maybe me too. It was a knowing that we couldn't tear away from. The knowing that she has to face this, that her bravado is wearing thin, that all this is wearing her down, that she is going to succumb. She told me. She must know it in her being. Was it a decision she made? Unconsciously? I can't cajole her.
My cat looks up at me and meows, long and soft. It's a cry that means, "I'm bored. Help me." So I try. I wiggle the pipe cleaner again through the same crevasse in the arm chair. He can't generate enough excitement to fixate, intensify a strike. He walks away and uses the doggy door to exit the premises. Anything outside beats this monotony, he says. The feeling I get is the same as when my teenage son outgrew me. Once I was his world, then he discarded me; as is the pattern of life. Life is cruel and grand.
Ideas for keeping aliveness fresh...join a tai chi class, harmonica lessons, woodcarving lessons, energy medicine studies. I have to find a travel group that goes to exotic places and makes individual travel fun and worthwhile. I want to write my novel this November. I think it will be a hoot to put together. I want to continue to become independently wealthy. Just for the sake of it. I want to be my own boss and not have to report to anyone. I want to even camp by myself and enjoy it. Thus, gearing up for the future RV adventure.
What are siblings to each other? Are they friends? are they more? Or is friendship too high a word for a relationship that was never voluntary? Is a sibling an obligation? A liability? Is it a moral issue? Is estrangement from a sib worse than ending a friendship because the two of you have nothing in common any more? And it's not worth the drama anymore? How many siblings unravel their ties when the parents die? Is it common? I'm without a compass here. I remember this feeling when mom died. What is one supposed to do? Where's the path?
I might finally join Nanowritmo this November. It's national novel writing month. Everyone vows to chug out (a big number) of words per day. They let nothing stand in their way. Then at least you have a place to start, which is to edit and shuffle and add and subtract. A novel. How cool would that be? If, perchance I was terribly busy by that time with my store, I would at least put together my small square book with photos or illustrations. At least I could do that. I'm harnessing the power of my mind. Dare to Dream Big.
Thank god for cool comforts. It's the hottest day of the year. I'm splurging on AC. Cranked it up to real comfort level. I worked hard today and I deserve it. Yes, I think about people without all the time. Not right now. I put my dinner in the microwave, I'll make a salad from my well stocked frig. I might even go for a walk for an ice cream cone, then take a luxurious bath and sleep in my comfortable bed. I live well. No doubt about it. Today, I won't apologize for it. At least I appreciate it.
I went out to breakfast with friend Stacy this morning. It's so precious to have friends. I can say to her, "No! You've always known he isn't partner material. NO. Why in the world are you talking about moving in with him?" And she can say to me, regarding my estranged sister, "Oh, so you just ignored her comments about missing you and feeling sad?. Wow!" And both of us had to do our own reflection: "Oh. I have to reconsider. Thank you." That last sentence was unspoken, but pertinent. Friends that care won't let you stumble into unsavory places.
My first mother in law just called me. She's 94 years old. I think she's ready to leave the planet. She told me that she made a list of all the people dear to her, and is calling each one. She wants to let each one know how they can be saved; by accepting the lord, JC into their hearts. I think it's sweet and I thanked her for considering me one of the special people on the list. We both got teary. It's been 31 years since I was an official daughter in law. Good things stay the same.
Review of birthday party at the store: Too many people (I told her!) Banner should be a floor project so it can be longer. Helpful if a teenager/helper could be part of the mix. Here's what I didn't say. Adults don't get a table! WTF? I had it all neatly laid out with supplies at each place, and the adults commandeered it! No. So, I must have extra chairs along the wall for the parents. 12-15 is the maximum number. Forget the music with that many kids. two hours is too long. Making a gift bag was fun.
Dorothy visits my store occasionally and pays in units of visits. She's become a friend of sorts. We have good discussions, swap stories of wayward children and how they tug at us. Invariably though, she comes with her depression. She hordes bad feelings as she hordes cats. Her cats are running her life and so are her sad emotions. All she sees is the unfairness of the world. All the atrocities. Yesterday she came in to make a sign so she could sit in front of Walmart and encourage a boycott against China products for their inhumane treatment of animals.
I had a dream last night that was unusual. I never dream about my late parents, which I guess is also unusual. But Mom and I sitting together on a posh couch somewhere with outdoor lighting, a yacht, a restaurant? I'm fluffing the pillows for a more comfortable seat and settle in. I tell her, I've never worried about money. It's always been there. I work at something I've studied, sort of enjoy and the money comes. Also marriage helps. But NOW it's just occurring to me that to have a business you have to strive to get money. Pow.
I wake up to a to-do list. Always. So burdensome. That's what vacations are for. Escaping! so that the days are unknown and unplanned. A break from the to-do routine. Remember golfing with parents? The days at the cottage? Swimming off the dock? The breeze off the water on the deck during morning coffee? Learning to appreciate those moments even when they're not now is a blessing. I hold a million memories that I can revisit with pleasure, if I don't get swallowed up by nostalgia. I should learn to thank my brain for it's wanderings with gratitude.
Dream: I had a baby. I was part of a couple, though I can't identify who the father is, but he's happy. The baby was covered in blood. I licked it and approved. (Just read an article about the diagnostic possibilities of blood.) The baby was so smiley and happy and big and plump. So much joy! Interpretation: I'm birthing a new possibility. It's a happy addition, It's tested and vetted, It brings joy. I have no idea what it is at this point. Can I be on the lookout for an opportunity? Or, does it already exist, un-noted?
It's hard for the youth to understand seniors. Ha!. I'm 63 and when I look at the group photo of gray haired, floppy faced seniors, I cringe. Geez! Am I one of those? They look like fossilized remnants of used-to-be people. Now, they're gathered into play groups of tottering misfits. They don't seem real to me. It hurts me to think I belong in that group. I am in the throes of a definite psychological impasse. This is what I need to focus on now. How to accept the sub culture of old folks of which I am.
A stroke of clarity just befell me. The issue is of friendship-not sisterhood. Hypothetically, I could say to Sis," I was a true and loyal friend to you, probably your best friend. I was respectful of you and your personhood. I accepted every aspect of you, even at your worst. I supported you whenever you needed me, with money, listening, understanding, You were not a good friend to me. You didn't like religious differences, that my relationship with dad was different, that I outgrew shopping, needed a divorce. You abandoned me in my time of need, and were cruel."
I'm living in fear. She might come to my door with a sad face and want to hug. She might stand in front of me with an awkward silence and say, "I miss you." My fear is that there is an expectation that if these things happen, I will be forced to step into a disingenuous role and stuff back my beliefs and understanding and decisions about this relationship and it will be a giant step backward into "family" that is a pretense for obligation and stuckness. I have no words that need expression. I want to be left alone.
August 10th is Articipate's 2nd annual anniversary, which means I'm starting on my 3rd year. Originally I was going to name the business, "Ease in Art," meaning, you would find peace and solace by doing art, and also, you could ease into it. I've learned that customers experience their discomfort zone when they open the door and enter the studio. They expected a regular store, a place to buy goods they think will make them happy. When they see tables, and open space, they think something is expected from them, and they haven't any practice. Few are brave. "Thanks, anyway."
Nutshell overview: golden child born to narcissistic mother, then unworthy child. All is normal within one's family. You don't question. "Less than" was my rock solid understanding. Adulthood, golden child acknowledges me as an equal. I've arrived. I'm in the "in" group of my family. we are geographically distant but close emotionally as we share kids and husband stories. My "less than" status primes me for ego struggles in both marriages. I am willing to play little sister our whole lives to keep the feeling of acceptance. Until I'm not. Until I begin to let go of all pretense. Eureka.
It takes my mind a long time to sift through the feelings and be able to define the cause of distress. (note to self-I never try to define the cause of happiness.) Here it is: My former family has traveled from NC to MI to experience nostalgia at the cabin of our more youthful days. Suddenly, I exist for them. They realize it's not like before-I'm missing. I want to scream, "Hey! I've been here for the three years I haven't heard from you." Peek a boo! Sis always said-out of sight out of mind. Really. Hello?
I buried my family of origin today. In art therapy, I built a basement, with me looking down into the foundation. I divided the rooms into the configuration of my first house. I painted a mural on our bedroom, as Mom had done. It was a memorial service. Silent tears; I didn't feel like articulating. Inside the rooms- sister, Dad, Mom and me. They were represented as in my 5 year old creation: Sis as the princess, Dad and I normal, Mom as a stick figure. The setting was the cottage, blue lake beyond. I filled the hole with dirt.
Today's art therapy day. I think I'm running out of ideas for continuing. I used to have visions, dreams, stuff to discuss and make art about. I'm at a peaceful place now. Or maybe a dry place in my creativity. It's all ok. Maybe I just need a rest to gather some insight. I've grieved my relationship loses, my youth, worked out my anger issues, tackled my financial insecurities and looked at my place in life-the existential quandaries. What more is there? I feel like my art therapy has been a discreet, subtle, steadying support, like a rip line.
You can pretend I'm not your mom. You can pretend to be an orphan child, alone in the world. But we know that's not true. I have an energy force that I'm wrapping around you. It's a strengthening piece of love that brings you comfort and assistance and new eyes with which to view your world and make it a bit brighter. I guess you don't need this protection, but mothers do this. You'll only miss it when I leave the planet. It's unfortunate in that way, because you never know it's value until it's gone. I love you J.
Just listened to Pema Chodron about alternative ways to react. She points out that our outbursts, triggers are habits. They are powerful ways that we've learned to behave. The "Yes, but..." syndrome--our justification-- making it crucial to... We've all been there. She says this point we should identify as the crux of change. I, myself, have learn that that fiery feeling needs to be felt and it needs to be surrounded by a space I call the "do nothing zone." Any reaction can wait. I make myself think of at least one alternative way of reacting before proceeding. Peace.
I got up early today. It was still dark and the birds had just started chirping. There was a cool inviting breeze from the window. I made coffee, opened all the windows, lit a candle in the dark. I sang Joyful, Joyful. Then I said a little prayer to my parents. It was a forgiveness prayer: for their role in my hurt and for my abuses to them; my anger, my ungratefulness. I felt us all in a circle of mature souls--that now we could put it in the past and I asked their help for the future. Peace.
The grass is always greener; I work the yard, I clean and decorate the house. I'm appreciative of my surroundings, I love my cat and the uncomplicated way I can live my solo live. BUT! my friends are going off to Maine, and away to NC and my former family is vacationing up north and everyone is off to an adventure, while I'm staying stuck (it feels) at home. "Where's everyone going? Wait for me!," I want to say. No! Stop it. Restrict your mind to the beauty surrounding you and stop wanting what you don't have. It's a discipline.
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