REPORT A PROBLEM
I said, "I don't have to answer, you know." I didn't say
Oh, I couldn't get to the phone, or I had a customer
or any of the many such excuses I've been using when he calls. No. I said to myself that twice a day calls are too much and I finally took control and I announced it. I've reduced the calls by half. I know his calling is a form of tethering. I know myself to be a victim of his manipulation. My compliance is my default behavior saying, "it's ok, it's enough, this is what I deserve."
I skipped class to attend the local art association group. I had received their newsletter and I read that an artist would present her art of making dyed scarves. Plus it is being held in a new facility close to me and this store is a major competitor of my store. There was a lot to behold! But in the end, after careful reading, there was just a talk, no demonstration and I could learn all I needed to know by just driving by, which I did. It was packed! I'm so jealous. I wish I wasn't, but I am.
I went to a financial advisor today, because apparently I need to pay someone to prod me into being responsible. She was quick to uncover that I am resting my future on a shaky foundation. Obviously, you don't keep your eggs in the same basket with your former spouse. I left the appointment feeling thrilled to be taking the right steps and scared about the trauma to come; though it's quite possible it's only in my head. I need my own security. I need to make a trust, assign benefactors, durable power of attorney, etc. Life is so frigging complicated.
I'm intensely aware of my time lost to technology. This is not from an old lady that can't keep up with it. I'm going to equate this time loss complaint to the era when we all were convinced to accept Self Serve Gas. It was a big deal and very modern and we all thought, sure, why not? We'll save money. No. We all now miss the idea of service for these machines we don't know how to maintain. Now, same thing online customer service. One searches dutifully the websites of companies, because they don't want you to call. Con't...
So you try to find the information in the FAQ section. You must read all the questions trying to eliminate the need for a call. Then, no answer, so you have to find the category that suits your question, lest it goes off into the abyss. Then, fill out the form with all your info and send it off. Now wait so they can answer within 24-48 hours. Be patient! Or, you can call and hang on to the one phone line available for a national company for 10-30 minutes--this is your punishment for phoning. Tictoc. Con't...
There should be a new vocabulary word to describe despondency due to failure of service. Two mornings were wasted trying to e-deposit checks as I used to do. "Could not summit, try again." After waiting on the phone for 10 minutes, I drove. I told this to the lady behind the counter and added,"so you have to deal with me." I must have looked forlorn, head down. I felt two hands pressed on my forearms. Startled I looked up into her kind eyes. She said, "It's going to be Ok." Compassion is the opposite of sought new word.
Pretend you just received a gift of a day designated for just numbers. A whole day that nothing else mattered, and that when it ended, there would be personal, financial peace of mind. A business budget would be established. A personal delineation of expenses and a future budget, including a travel expense account for future dreaming. Here, I am dreaming about the benefits and logistics of the dreaded, infinitely postponed task. I'm imagining I could do this. Start with a ritual bath, don workout outfit, classical music. Jog around the block every 2 hours. PICK A DAY. JUST DO IT.
My cat is lucky I'm sitting so near. He's perched on the top of the loose cushion seat back of the sofa. As I'm writing today's bit, his body gives in fully to the sleep and his backside weight rolled onto my shoulder. His head is drooping over the the other side of the sofa. I'm no good with cats, as a caretaker. Today I found that the lump I noticed a week ago at the base of his tail has a cut in it. So now I'm imagining sepsis, temperature, how do you tell? Vet trip tomorrow. Another $100.
Something strange happened today. A mother and two teenaged girls came into the store to have a look around. I said, "let me know what you decide" and walked back to my table. Then I tried to be more helpful, "what kinds of art do you like to do at home?" No real answer. "What was your favorite school art project?" "Well, we never got to choose." I was developing an intense dislike for this young girl. Her whispering, her cocky handling of objects on the shelf, a bravado that seemed, aggressive. How to explain that such rancor? Very strange.
I made a long list of all my angers, current and past. My unsuccessful attempts to deal with phone companies, insurance companies, abandonment issues...all the way back to losing custody of child. I wrote these on black paper, with colorful print on the other side. I built a structure with wire coils and wood. I ripped each text of anger away from the others and coiled the strip, or accordion folded it or wrapped it around or stuck it into the armature. I was ridding myself of all the details, letting them go. It's a refreshing, zany art work.
Clarity is not comforting. I keep finding myself distracted these days with silly things like, looking online of tops or jeans to buy. Or, shopping for boxes of tile to redo my family room floor. Each time I catch myself, another thought comes to mind..."what are you trying to escape?' I know that if I just stayed still for half a day, disciplined, with no distractions, the feelings would well up in me and I would be overloaded in grief. That's why I keep moving, tantalizing myself will dreams or indulgences. At least I'm aware of what I'm doing.
Can I just be OK with myself? Just the way I am; failed and meek and lazy and uncommitted and incompetent and having an attitude and being ungrateful too much of the time? Can I live with that? I'm frank, at least. I'm observant of all my flaws. I don't seem to need to hide them. Am I capable of embracing them? I have absolutely no one I have to impress. But, there is this need to justify my existence. Me, breathing up the oxygen, using the raw materials of the planet; me without being productive or helpful. Just me.
Maybe I wrote a poem about them. Maybe that's why the image stays in my mind. The men, sitting and watching the water at the shoreline of the ocean. They're wrapped in blankets, silently waiting. Amassed, staring toward the horizon, needing to die. They have no more energy to carry them onward. They have outlived their dreams and are waiting for the phantom ship that isn't coming ashore. I can't tell, because I can't see their faces, whether they're content, or sad, or desperate. It looks like a tragedy to me. Beached whales. In solitude and in solidarity they sit.
I've let go of my son. He appears in my mind about twice a week now. Like any other friend. He taught me how to let go by negative reinforcement. Demonstrated he didn't want to be a central figure in my life. So now he's on the outskirts. It's all one sided still; me giving and reaching out, providing gifts. Him accepting and saying thanks, sometimes. He can't be bothered with reciprocity. Can't or prefers not to imagine how it might feel for an older mother of one to be ignored and sidelined. I might skip his birthday this year.
Busy day, yet procrastination still makes its way into my agenda. Like right now. Prep for taxes? Not me! do my homework for tomorrow, eh...there's still time. Think I'll just sit down and write 300 words. This is like a gambler must live her life. How much can she get away with? Living in shame, hoping nobody knows. Willing to visit the flimsy edge of safety, until the boundary holds. But it can't. Her life comes crashing down on her as she always knew one day it would. She's been waiting to reach the bottom of her life forever.
Cat drama: Ronald was relaxing in his cat bed on the dining room table. (I know.) Suddenly he threw up. I went to kitchen for paper towels, and heard a drinking glass spill and fall from the table. I went to look and Ronald was out cold on the floor! I ran to basement to get cage for transport to vet. Returning, He was awake, head up but dazed and not moving. I ran upstairs for my glasses. When I came downstairs, He was in the cage!! Vet said that vomit pressed against vegas nerve, caused slowed heart rate, faint.
I've been up with house lights on and coffee brewing for 45 minutes. There's no sign of Mr. Ronald, the cat. I'm getting more anxious. Here's what usually happens: I reach a point where I have to go and look for my precious cat. I start to get dressed and bundled. As I'm about to put on my last boot, Ronald appears and all is well. This has happened about 10 times in his short life. He's about 18 months old. Another cat drama. I love this cat, but do I enjoy all this drama? Where the hell is Ronald?
This is it! The quest has been realized. Peace of mind the prize. Surprisingly, it feels like a bit of emptiness. An unusually prolonged pause in my life space. A blank canvas, silence. I have nothing that has to be done. All those piles of tax papers that would make me cringe with the thought of dealing with them and then cost me psychic energy to justify avoidance. This is the absence of dread. Well done. It was the power of overcoming the dread that got me here; tackling each horribly big, yet little thing an hour at a time.
Suppose I get out of coping mode with this business and into control and commander role. Like I am the captain of my ship and I can summon the engines to full throttle (what?) I create a vision for my happening store as if it's the hottest thing in my little town, instead of sitting inside it everyday waiting for "it" to happen. Let's suppose I hired people or at least started asking around to anyone and everyone that could contribute their talents to make this thing thrive. Thrive by harnessing the power of positive expectations. This, my new quest.
It takes energy to engage in tasks that require skills you don't have. More energy to go forward when you don't know how. This energy is easily drained by the minutiae of bills, fictional personal stories, emotionally draining relationships, even the habit of retail therapy which zaps one's time. These are the bane of progress because they are habits of thinking. The mind wanders over to a trail it already knows and finds comfort there. Be aware of where your mind is leading you. Take hold! Push it into the future. Exercise imagination. Think new thoughts. Change depends on it.
I love Saturdays. I spend the afternoon in the store with NPR entertaining me with stories. I'm there if anyone wants to make some art, and I don't care if no one does. I make my own art. Today, I'm going to string up paper bag box kites to paint and assemble them. If they look good, I'll string them in the window. If not I'll throw them in the trash. Who cares? Blissful Saturday. A precursor to a great weekend. I'm all into treating myself with pleasurable, relaxing things. I might start with a leisurely nap. Right about now.
I miss California. I miss the smells of blooming orange trees mixed with sage on the foothills. I miss the green backroads and dirt paths to bike on. I miss the life I used to have, though I used to wait for it's end perpetually. I had to move to MI, to leave my marriage. Did I know that on some level? Only subconsciously. I knew there had to be a shift and I didn't care where the chips fell after I flung them into the air. I acted boldly. I can live in MI if I want. Watch me.
Puzzled by my intense dislike for a young teen that visited my store: Why did I dislike her? She was whimpery. She either lacked courage to express herself or was clueless about herself and her likes and dislikes. The question of which project she wanted to make became contentious. Was she defensive in response to my curiosity? I walked away to give us both some space. Was this girl my shadow side? Did I dislike her because I used to be like her; quiet and unsure? Mom certainly treated me with disdain. An emotional trigger to be aware of. Compassion!
He was the appropriate age, attractive in his confident mannerisms. Perhaps he was overweight, but one gets used to the supersized new normal shape. He was alert, interactive, humorous, intelligent and evidently had a big heart. He worked for a hospice as a chaplain, a CPA by day, and taught evening business classes. Sara, decided this guy was too close to being the best potential match for a mate she had come across in the three years she'd been divorced. This made the guy dangerous. When he asked her if she went to church, she said, "Currently, I'm between religions."
I'm reading about circles of trust by reading author Parker Palmer, a Quaker. Quakers have a discipline where by they create a special, sacred place for their own souls to emerge. They do it by establishing and adhering to guidelines or ground rules. There is no fixing, or rescuing or posing clever questions to convey advice. They believe that the deep knowing or voice of the soul will be scared away by attempts to push it is this direction or that. Quakers are confidence that silent witnesses are learning deep acceptance, the timid soul being witnessed can make itself known.
I love reading Caroline Hax, advice columnist. She has no formal training in psychology or counseling. Yet, her responses cut to the heart of an issue and penetrate through the morass of emotions and insecurities. Today, regarding a non-reciprocal friend: "Having already articulated your needs, you now either continue the friendship on the available terms, or you end it. Bluntly stated, but thatís the crossroads youíve reached." What else is there? This is the place I've come to with my sister. I can now visualize so many paintings; like emotional maps of my life. New creative fuel.
Dear Sally, WTF? Youíre a kind person and a talented painter that I would like to see teaching in the store. I offered you the position, by email and said I wanted to give you all the facts of the position up front and give you non pressured time to think about it. Was that three weeks ago? So, Iím taking your non response as the answer youíre sending me. Iím also deciding that your game playing is too much drama for me. I prefer friends that can stand up and deliver an answer. Iím wearing purple these days.
My friend Donna is an extraordinary artist. Her large paintings take your breath away because of two elements; one is the visual flow of the colors and design, the other is the depiction of common experiences that grab you and pull you in. The hint of colored tiles by the pool, the refreshing coolness of the water color. Now Donna is closing the pinnacle chapter of her life as an artist--her studio gallery. "Final Showing" the words read. I don't know her feelings about it. I know I'm sad about this end. I hope recognition happens in her lifetime.
I'm going to make a small square book and self-publish it. It doesn't have to be extraordinary to be worthwhile. It's going to be a collection of my favorite 100 words over the years. They'll be in random order so that no one's tempted to see it as a mini memoir. Pieces of me? Verbal Snapshots? (Is the word snapshot current? or was that a past life?) I might illustrate it with drawings, or watercolor or photos or all three. It's just a way, perhaps, of reviewing my life creatively, keeping me engaged, maybe connecting more of the dots?
Name it to claim it: An Oprahism. The realization that --it's a thing. The defining moment when you take your experience that's been haunting you and pin it down to examine it because of its label. It begins to have an outline, a definition instead of a fog. It starts to show up in a pattern, in its complexity, so that the whole of it starts to make sense. This is the power of language and categories and knowledge. This is the fact that the truth can set you free, but only through awareness and the willingness to muddle through.
There's an interesting blog called the "Dictionary of Sorrows" in which the author makes up words to fill in gaps in our language and inadvertently creates bridges of understanding experiences. Here's my favorite: onism - n. the awareness of how little of the world youíll experience Imagine standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other peopleís passwords, each representing one more thing youíll never get to see before you dieóand all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here. Ahhh, nailed it.
The Tip Jar