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Archive for the category “Human being – not human doing”

Beginnings

Beginnings don’t just come on January 1st or the first day of school, or your first day married, etc.  Beginnings can happen with each new breathe. If we allow it.  I am old enough to know that resolutions come and go, and if I truly want to change, it takes work, commitment, support, self-love, and lots of leaning into the pain that comes with change. I don’t need a special date for this, I can start anytime, and I often do,

I began writing everyday last year around this time.  Unfortunately it wasn’t on a blog; it was text messages sent to about 25 friends.  I get up in the morning, sit quietly, and try to have a conscious contact with God (Higher Power, Inner Peace, Universe, Spirit – insert whatever word you need here to get the point). This act has helped me be kinder on some days. It has helped me create space between my feelings and those of others, it has helped me get perspective on baffling situations and circumstances.  An added bonus is that a few of the receivers let me know it helps them some days too.

Because most daily prayer/reflection type of books begin on January 1st, I am choosing today to do something new.  This is also very scary, because I may not finish.  I may just complete today’s entry and no more.  But then again – maybe – just maybe – I’ll lean into the  pain that is commitment and discipline and actually start a new habit that is life-giving. Maybe I’ll simply do something everyday instead of thinking about the doing and getting side-tracked in the pain and judgment of not being enough.  I’m just jumping in . . .1. . . .2. . . 3:

January 1st:

Begin. . .

Begin doing nothing.  I dare you.  Take the challenge – do it today.  Just sit.  Set a timer for 5 minutes and watch what happens.  Don’t judge, don’t move – just sit.  When thoughts come – watch them – are they thoughts about the past? Are they thoughts about the future? Just watch them and come right back to now.

This may sound easy or it may sound excruciating.  I promise you – if you do this long enough or for many days in row – it will be both easy and excruciating. So often we get so attached to doing and doing and doing. Sometimes we are afraid to do nothing because we are then left with our human beingness – with our thoughts and feelings. We judge ourselves and we wonder how others will judge us if we just sit and feel.

Just for today – be a human being – not a human doing.

Peace.

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News Flash: Woman held captive by feeling!

Feelings – we all have them. Feelings are not facts; they rarely make sense.  Why then do they so often hold me hostage? I can be at peace – driving – relaxing – working – eating, and suddenly my world is shaken – heck sometimes even my faith is shaken.  Why?  I didn’t get news of death or getting fired, or divorced, or anything.  It was just a feeling.  A feeling of. . .un-named fear, anxiety, a wave of intense sadness, and then I am trapped.  I can’t escape the feeling, and I begin to ruminate and obsess.

The other day a friend gave me a typical example of this: she bought her first new/used car in about 20 years.  She is intelligent and savvy. She knew the brand she wanted, she knew approximately how much mileage she wanted, she knew what she could afford, and she bought the car.  On her drive home she heard a strange noise.  She called the dealership, and scheduled to bring the car back for service.  While she was driving back to the dealership, a feeling took her captive. If feelings have voices, hers sounded something like this, “You made a big mistake. This car is bad; it may be a lemon. What are you going to do? You don’t have time to deal with this.  This was a huge waste of money. How could you be so stupid? You are so stupid; what a mistake you’ve made!”  All the while her gut is wrenching, her throat is tightening, and she feels as though she must cry or scream or spit. She’d been captured, and couldn’t escape!

I picked my friend up while the car was getting repaired and we spent some quality time together.  We talked about feelings, and we laughed about them too.  We shook our heads thinking how strong feelings are, and how even after much practice, we still can’t completely elude them. They still capture us.

It’s summer. My schedule gets less rigid during the summer.  This flexibility must alert my feelings, because they really come rushing in with swords and ropes to immobilize me. I awake to no alarm and the voice begins: “Wow it is 8:30 – you are so lazy to have slept this late.” Or: “Wow it is 6:00, what is your problem? Why can’t you relax and sleep in?”

Often I awake with sadness or anxiety.  My new practice is to get up anyway. I don’t try to figure it out. I don’t give in to the thoughts and feelings, I just try to move ahead.  Sometimes it stays with me all day; sometimes only for a few minutes. This isn’t to say I simply ignore them – although I guess sometimes I do.  I notice the feeling. I greet it. I sometimes learn something from it. I pray. I meditate, but I don’t delve into trying to figure it out completely. . .anymore. . . I’ve realized that often feelings just don’t make sense.

A friend of mine asked me to run with her the other day.  First the thought comes -“I can’t run with you – you are faster, stronger, better.”  Then right on cue, the feeling comes to bind me. My stomach begins to rumble, my breathe quickens, and I feel shaky.  Then I think – maybe I’m sick – I shouldn’t run. It’s hot – I can’t handle this heat. Usually, I put my running clothes on and get out the door.

One thing that always helps free me from captivity is my voice.  Although often my mouth feels bound shut, and my throat feels it is closing, and I have to force with all of my might to speak.  When I do, when I tell someone what I’m feeling (okay – not just anyone – woah – I’ve learned from my mistakes here). When I tell someone I trust – what I am feeling, I can then think it through. I can process these feelings for what they are – just feelings.  Nothing to be afraid of – nothing that makes sense. It usually ends in laughter and peace.  I’ll take these feelings any day. . . although I know these won’t last either.  None do; they come, they rise, and then they leave.

Peace.

Long, lazy, summer days

Last June, my husband, two teen girls, and I discovered a small, sleepy beach town on Florida’s Atlantic coast.  Last week we visited there again. I usually plan an adventure over the winter and we go somewhere different each year, but this winter I didn’t have the energy, so we went with the sure bet.

We drive from Maryland.  How does that sound? Most people gasp when I say this.  I love it.  I love being enclosed in a minivan with my family; moving speedily down the highway while at the same time weighed down by the space in the vehicle. This is where the groundedness of vacation begins for me.  The slowing down.

I often have a difficult time going on vacation.  Throwing off the structure and routine scares me.  It helped knowing what I was getting into this year – knowing where we were heading. It is beautiful; the condo is right on the beach.  The first full day, I was on the balcony with my husband and feeling as if it were just too much trouble going down to the beach.  I was grounded to the point of being heavy, slow moving, like a sloth. So I sat on the balcony searching for the dolphins in the ocean before me.

Without the distractions of work and house – I am forced (or I chose) to see.  I see that for the first time, I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to perform. I am that person who was always running, working, cleaning, planning, talking, partying. Even on vacation – I had to keep busy.  But now – I’m ready – I’m ready to just be.  (See what I did there? I have to get ready to simply be!) And yet I can’t throw off the pangs of guilt that creep in – the guilt that is always about comparing my insides to others’ outsides.

Even the waiter at our favorite restaurant at the beach asked what we had done – water taxi, para sailing, National Seashore? “Uh, no, no, and no.”  We didn’t do anything.  We went to this awesome used book store and bought 10 pounds of books.  We read, we sat on the beach, we swam, we played Scrabble and Phase 10, and we slept.  And I watched baseball.

It was Tuesday before I became grateful for the heaviness, the sloth like body that I took on.  It was Wednesday before I  stopped comparing. It was Thursday when I realized that if I had written a story about my future – what kind of family I thought I wanted – it would not have been the one I have.  I would have written all kinds of things about money, and success, and the Caribbean, and parasailing. It would not have included used book stores and teens that sleep until 1:30.  I would have been selling myself short. I have the most incredible family; the perfect family . . . for me.  Especially now – in this moment – in this year of my turning 50 and the girls being 14 and 17 and Jeff loving and accepting us with his whole heart and soul.

Especially now – as I let go of past and future expectations. Especially now that I begin not caring what others want and expect from me. Especially now that I have lived long enough and been brave enough to look beyond the surface into the darkness to see what was driving me and and pushing me to do, do, do instead of be, be, be. Especially now as I am in that uncertain time of life where we stand on the bridge between having children and launching young adults.  Especially now as I experience both the  sadness of knowing this moment is fleeting and the excitement of knowing this moment is fleeting. Soon – it will be Jeff and I in the car alone traveling – how wonderful . . .and how sad.

Next year – we may stay for two weeks. Peace.

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