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Archive for January, 2009

Waiting for spring

img_64782January is almost over. That signals my move from enduring winter to waiting for spring. You can’t start waiting for spring too soon or it is like waiting for Christmas in July. There’s an order to these things. Much of it has to do with the amount of darkness. During the shortest days I wish I were a bear, so that I could crawl into my cave and hibernate. But as sunlight adds a minute here and a minute there, my urge to hibernate goes away, replaced by impatient grumpiness at the oh-so-slowness of it all. HURRY UP!! This time of year I envy my Alaska sisters, because even though they suffer through worse weather than I do, their advancing daylight hours soon start to trot and then to gallop. Down here, my husband is as bad as I am, checking the sunrise/sunset times each day and informing me that we are now gaining two minutes per day. Can I just buy a few extra minutes at the daylight store?

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Blog instead of journal

As I attempt to sort my baggage, one of the most common suggestions I read is to start a journal. I have tried in the past to journal, but paranoia and self-censorship have always gotten in the way. When I was a disgruntled 14 year old, somebody gave me a diary. I began writing in it like a good little diarist, only to have my little sister find it and make obnoxious comments in it. She was the epitome of brattiness back then, so her actions should have come as no surprise to me, but I was quite traumatized by the experience and never kept a diary again.

Many years later, I confided to my mother some of my feelings about my father, thinking that she understood that they were confidences. But she did not treat them so. Instead she wrote a nasty letter to my father (they had been divorced many years), harassing him about some of the things that I had told her. Well, naturally, that caused an uproar and made even worse the very poor relationship I had with my father. I took away from the experience the belief that it is safer to keep your thoughts to yourself, in your head. No diaries, no journals, no confiding.

But that causes its own problems, not the least of which is that I keep having to add on to the giant mini-storage facility in my head. So, as I started my walkabout, the issue of journaling came up again. I decided to try a new tack, to journal through a public blog, by using stories as a way to talk through my issues. So here it is, for the whole world to see. Perhaps as I follow this path I will get brave enough to dust off some of my deepest, darkest secrets. Who knows. But for now I will tell stories about the objects, obstacles, scenery, and people I encounter on my journey. Serious stories, silly stories, real stories, made up stories.

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Beer and earwax

An acquaintance  of mine once said that when she drank a lot of beer she produced a lot of earwax. Everybody teased her about her observation, but I’m beginning to think there’s something to it. I recently went from being a daily beer drinker to drinking beer once a week. Lo and behold, after a month or so, I suddenly noticed that I’m producing almost no earwax. If I ever see her again I will have to let her know that she has anecdotal evidence to support her hypothesis.

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The paths we choose become our story. We don’t get to go back and edit our story, nor do we get to go back to that last crossroad and go a different direction.  We can dash madly ahead, unmindful of what we pass, in a hurry to see the end of the story or find a new crossroad. We can even plunge off the path, whether for adventure or through frustration, but we will get scratched by bushes and possibly fall in a hole. We can stop and examine the path we are on. We can look back to the last bend and think about how we got to this point. We can walk mindfully on our path and really SEE our story unfold. And when we meet others on the path, including our own self from the past, we can tell and retell our life story endlessly, no matter how bleak, or we can choose to write a new and better story of who we are.

Here is a quote from a book I have been reading, called Mindful Recovery, by Thomas and Beverly Bien:  “Since the time when our earliest ancestors gathered around ancient fires to reenact the successful hunt, we have loved stories. The tendency to view our lives as drama, as both tragedy and comedy, is so much a part of our nature that the only real question is what kind of story we are telling with our lives, not whether we are telling one. Some stories are constructive, some are destructive. Some are satisfying, some are not satisfying.”

I had known for a while that the story I was telling and retelling was an unhappy story, a story filled with anger and frustration, but I did not know how to start a new story, or even that I could. I thought I was stuck on the path I had chosen, that I had to follow it to the end. But we are not stuck on our path. There are many paths to choose from if we are mindful and really open our eyes to the world instead of simply telling and retelling our same old story. I discovered this when I panicked and plunged off my path into the desert. As I sat alone, picking the cactus spines out of my shins, I had a cosmic Google Earth moment and realized I could fly.

No, I hadn’t gone all  Carlos Castenada, sampling the local flora. And that moment of realization was preceded by many moments of lonely introspection combined with reading books about Buddhist mindfulness and deserts brimming with life. And I know that as I work on my new story, I will sometimes want to retreat to the old familiar story and be all bah-humbuggy about my new story, because breaking old patterns is hard, and painful, and tiring, and because fear of failure is like the sound of stealthy footsteps behind us on the path.

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hello and welcome

This is the story of my spiritual journey. You may not like my story. You may relate to my story. My journey away from frustration, sadness, anger, disappointment, and “lostness” may resonate with you. Although I am a logical, goal-oriented, anal, OCD perfectionist, this blog will not follow that formula.

In early December, for reasons that I will eventually explain and expand on, I bolted, I ran away, I skeedaddled, I went walkabout. On very short notice (two days). I left behind my beloved husband and my ailing mother. I took my ancient 17 year old cat along for company. I ran off to the desert of southern Arizona to live in a tent for a month. It was very cold. I was very lonely. Not much money. Canned food. One shower in a month. This is my story, about the walkabout, about my life, about why I needed to bolt, about what I am doing to change my life.

Those of you who read my story may feel compelled to complain, call me an idiot, give me advice, or recognize some of yourself in my journey. If you are mean in your comments, I will most likely delete them. If you provide insight or feel empathy, I welcome you. I may rant, or cry, or just tell a story. They won’t be in any specific order. This is part of the path upon which I have placed my feet and begun my journey. Grab a walking stick, grab some popcorn or jerky, depending on whether you consider this entertainment or want to walk with me.

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