Present Tense

To my Tribe…

friendship-63743_640Yesterday’s meditation was about gratitude. A lot of guided meditations reference gratitude, since many of us tend to focus on what’s wrong with our lives or the world, rather than what’s right. I happen to tend toward the former and have to be regularly reminded of the latter.

Having said that, there is also reason to be grateful for some of the not so good things in our lives. Our reaction to the more painful and uncomfortable things can be good; the suffering often acts as fertilizer. It promotes growth when we realize that we can not only survive difficult situations, but learn valuable lessons from them.

Our challenges often promote a surge of empathy for others in similar circumstances and if we look clearly and closely, we see that every single human on earth is navigating through their own obstacle course. That awareness makes us more patient and kind and forgiving and I believe, happier. In my experience and opinion, empathy is the precursor for kindness and compassion. And we all need more of that. If you watch any news at all, you know in your core that the world needs more of that.

So, back to gratitude. During my meditation yesterday, I began to relax and mentally list what I was grateful for and I started with my husband, my dogs, my family and my home. Then as I widened the circle, I began to see my friends and I began to smile, then laugh and then I felt an intense surge of emotion that I can only describe as love and light and tenderness toward these people who mean so much to me.

It was a moment of light and clarity that I wish happened more often while sitting in meditation. I tend to get caught up in the day to day administrative aspects of life. Bills, paycheck, household chores, errands, appointments, job, blah, blah, blah. Those things occupy too much of my personal hard drive and it takes sitting quietly, watching my breath, to remind me of the important stuff; the things that fill my soul. It’s taken me a long time to realize that those soul-fillers are my tribe. My humans; people that I’ve picked or have picked me.

So, yes. I’m grateful for all of you. You are my tribe and I love you.

August 24, 2014 Posted by | Musings | 8 Comments

Awake. Finally.

AWAKE_(277639400)I have awakened. I have rebounded. I’ve crawled out of the well of unhappiness and depression and self-pity that I’ve scuttled around in for the past few months. And it feels great. It feels free. I feel free.

I’m writing about this because I’m a serial ‘sharer’ of my feelings and experiences, but I also believe that some of you may be able to pluck something out of my experience that you’ll find helpful to your own journey. That’s just how I roll.

As painful and humiliating as it is to admit this, I fell off the wagon. I started dabbling with drinking after my dad died in April. I could make excuses, but there really aren’t any. I was just looking for some sort of relief in a painful period. I got none, but I continued to dance between light and darkness. This was not a full-blown, drunken relapse, but one day, I woke up and had enough with the guilt and the sleeplessness and the excuses.

On that morning, I walked into the living room where my husband was sitting, confessed that I had been drinking again and told him I needed his help. He wasn’t even aware that I’d been sneaking the booze because alcoholics and addicts are great fakers and liars, until we go over the edge which inevitably happens when you dabble where you shouldn’t.

Ever since that morning, my desire to drink evaporated. Gone. No thoughts about ‘just one beer’; no plotting to buy wine for ‘cooking’. Nada. What happened? I owned up. I blurted it out and asked for help. I admitted my powerlessness and my weakness and my flaws. And it felt great. I was liberated.

So, here is my lesson for you. Own it. Admit it. Quit trying to power your way through. Let go. Let me repeat that, in case you’ve never gotten the message from my previous posts: let go.

My relapse began as a way to dull the pain of a lot of loss that I was feeling, but it perpetuated itself when I began to feel immense guilt and self-loathing for my relapse. Once I admitted that I needed help and wanted to break this cycle, the sun rose, the birds sang, rainbows and unicorns appeared and I no longer felt the urge to succumb to the siren call of the booze.

This was a huge awakening for me and today, as I sit here at my computer, I can feel my lost mojo returning. My strength is back. My perspective is back and the biggest shift that has occurred in the past couple of weeks, is that I’m focusing on the needs of others.

In taking care of myself, I’ve become more loving to those I love. I spent a marvelous weekend with my mom at her assisted living facility. We talked and went out for meals and and just hung out. I felt so much love and appreciation for her.

My other focus is my marriage; being more loving and supportive of my husband who has been through his own difficult journey. I realized that I can only control my behavior and it’s time for me to give the love and support that he deserves. For too long, my career was the priority in our marriage, rather than our bond and relationship.  Those days are over.  WE are now the priority.  Period.

My introspection will continue, but with a new focus on how my behavior and my reactions can nurture and support others. So, rather than beat myself up over my relapse, I’m saying it was a necessary step for my growth. It was a dark time physically and emotionally, but it has launched me into a new feeling of lightness and yes, happiness.

Look inward, but focus outward. Be well.

August 16, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Awake. Finally.

AWAKE_(277639400)I have awakened. I have rebounded. I’ve crawled out of the well of unhappiness and depression and self-pity that I’ve scuttled around in for the past few months. And it feels great. It feels free. I feel free.

I’m writing about this because I’m a serial ‘sharer’ of my feelings and experiences, but I also believe that some of you may be able to pluck something out of my experience that you’ll find helpful to your own journey. That’s just how I roll.

As painful and humiliating as it is to admit this, I fell off the wagon. I started dabbling with drinking after my dad died in April. I could make excuses, but there really aren’t any. I was just looking for some sort of relief in a painful period. I got none, but I continued to dance between light and darkness. This was not a full-blown, drunken relapse, but one day, I woke up and had enough with the guilt and the sleeplessness and the excuses.

On that morning, I walked into the living room where my husband was sitting, confessed that I had been drinking again and told him I needed his help. He wasn’t even aware that I’d been sneaking the booze because alcoholics and addicts are great fakers and liars, until we go over the edge which inevitably happens when you dabble where you shouldn’t.

Ever since that morning, my desire to drink evaporated. Gone. No thoughts about ‘just one beer’; no plotting to buy wine for ‘cooking’. Nada. What happened? I owned up. I blurted it out and asked for help. I admitted my powerlessness and my weakness and my flaws. And it felt great. I was liberated.

So, here is my lesson for you. Own it. Admit it. Quit trying to power your way through. Let go. Let me repeat that, in case you’ve never gotten the message from my previous posts: let go.

My relapse began as a way to dull the pain of a lot of loss that I was feeling, but it perpetuated itself when I began to feel immense guilt and self-loathing for my relapse. Once I admitted that I needed help and wanted to break this cycle, the sun rose, the birds sang, rainbows and unicorns appeared and I no longer felt the urge to succumb to the siren call of the booze.

This was a huge awakening for me and today, as I sit here at my computer, I can feel my lost mojo returning. My strength is back. My perspective is back and the biggest shift that has occurred in the past couple of weeks, is that I’m focusing on the needs of others.

In taking care of myself, I’ve become more loving to those I love. I spent a marvelous weekend with my mom at her assisted living facility. We talked and went out for meals and and just hung out. I felt so much love and appreciation for her.

My other focus is my marriage; being more loving and supportive of my husband who has been through his own difficult journey. I realized that I can only control my behavior and it’s time for me to give the love and support that he deserves. For too long, my career was the priority in our marriage, rather than our bond and relationship.  Those days are over.  WE are now the priority.  Period.

My introspection will continue, but with a new focus on how my behavior and my reactions can nurture and support others. So, rather than beat myself up over my relapse, I’m saying it was a necessary step for my growth. It was a dark time physically and emotionally, but it has launched me into a new feeling of lightness and yes, happiness.

Look inward, but focus outward. Be well.

August 16, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Practice…

Goodbye_2012Loss.  Such a common part of life and yet we’re always caught off guard.  So many of my friends are dealing with loss right now; losing parents, loved ones, pets or jobs. Big losses.  The kind that knock you flat on your ass.  We all know that they are inevitable and painful and expected and yet, they are so damned random.

I’ve read a couple of things lately that have been very helpful for me as I process my own grief and the pain that I feel for my dear friends.  The spiritual teacher Ram Dass wrote a piece where he points out that as we age, our losses accelerate.  Our friends and loved ones are dying.  We also begin to lose our youth and some of our abilities; we can’t do what we used to be able to do physically or mentally and we mourn that loss.

Let’s bottom line it:  dealing with loss is about letting go.  That’s it.  The reason for learning to let go is training for aging. As we get older, our losses mount and the practice of letting go is more and more important.  I was listening to a podcast that said that renunciation does not consist of giving up the things of this world, but in accepting that they go away.  Life forces us to become natural renunciates.  The things we always knew or relied on or took for granted all go away.

A spiritual practice trains us for this moment.  We give up our anger or pettiness or alcohol or gluten (that one is REALLY hard).  Small victories that prepare us for the major stuff like death and ill health and divorce.  That is the reason we need to train ourselves to let go and not cling.  Everything goes away.  Everything.  That is truth.

Losses hurt.  They are incredibly painful and are typically a mixture of guilt, second-guessing, blame, bargaining, what-ifs, anger, resentment.  We are overwhelmed as we process how the latest loss will affect our lives and yet, we survive them; over and over.  They change us of course, but that is a lesson too; a part of our spiritual practice.

Since my dad’s death, I’ve been much more loving toward others, particularly others who have experienced loss.  I am supremely in tune with their feelings and feel a great deal of empathy for them.  That is a positive result.  I also am aware of my own mortality and that my time is finite.  I’m more conscious of how I spend that time and who I spend it with and who I spend it on.  I’m not messin’ around anymore.

I feel closer to and more loving toward my family, particularly my mom.  I am no longer taking them for granted and our collective grief for my dad has allowed me to see them on a deeper level. Not as siblings, but as 3 dimensional humans.  Another positive lesson.

When you suffer a loss, it is always life-changing in some way.  It may not be a major event, but all losses are worthy of grief and acknowledgement.  Say goodbye and begin the process of letting go.  You’ll need those skills more and more.

 

July 26, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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