Present Tense

Walkin’ the walk

ember faceIt’s been a while since I’ve felt like writing.  In my last post, I said goodbye to my dog, Ember.  Her death was traumatic for our family and for the young man who hit and killed her.

One of the things that I preach to others is that we need to practice compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and empathy toward others, even those we don’t like or agree with.  It’s easy to tell others that they must do this in order to heal themselves and begin to heal the world. It was time for me to let the rubber meet the road and practice what is so easy to say, but not so easy to do.  A ‘healer, heal thyself’ moment I suppose.

In case you didn’t see the last post, Ember was killed in our driveway when a Fedex driver didn’t see her as she and our other dog ran toward his van.  The driver had no idea he had hit her.  He said that he saw the other dog and was looking for Ember, but it was too late.   My husband was livid.  He still is.  But, that’s his journey.

Fedex told us we could file a ‘claim’ with them.  I felt as if that was only more painful and would force us to relive the trauma.  I also knew that it was an accident.  There was no malice and although my husband claims he was going ‘too fast’, I can’t even confirm that.  I just don’t know.

I wanted to forgive and move on.  I knew that young man was suffering greatly over this.  He had always loved to see our crazy dogs greet him at the back door when he delivered packages.  He had dogs of his own.

I told my husband that he could file the claim or do whatever he felt was necessary, but I didn’t want to talk about it, or be involved.  I knew what I wanted to do; I wanted to give this young man a hug and tell him it’s okay.

You see, in the past, I would have gone over every scenario that I thought may have prevented this.  I would have beat myself up for ordering a package that had to be delivered on that day at that moment.  I knew from the tracking info that he was probably delivering something that day, so  I should have had them inside, I should have been more attentive, I should have trained her better, blah, blah, blah.

This time, my path and my practice kicked in.  First of all, the minute I heard that truck enter our long driveway, I knew what was coming.  I knew in my gut, that he was going to hit her.  I can’t explain it, I just knew.

I felt grief and shock and pain and devastation, but I didn’t feel anger.  I didn’t try to cast blame on anyone, including myself.

Shit happens. I used to hate seeing that on bumper stickers and t shirts.  It seemed so harsh and profane.  But, now I get it;  it is harsh and profane because life can be that way.  This time, despite losing something so precious to me, I understood it.  Shit just happened and I now I have to walk the walk that I talked.

I knew that I would see that driver again.  I wanted to see him again and I knew that he would dread the day that he had to make his way slowly up our driveway, knowing the pain that his action had caused.  To us and to him.

He showed up about a week later with a package for me from a friend in Denver.  I walked out onto the driveway and gave him a hug.  I asked his name and told him that it was okay.  That it wasn’t his fault and that I loved her and will miss her fiercely, but I wanted him to know that I forgave him.

He was very emotional and explained again that he just didn’t see her and that it had been a horrible week for him. He felt guilt and remorse and had gone over it a 1000 times in his mind.

And I said, “Hey. Shit happens in life.  It’s all in how we react to it and deal with it.  I forgive you and I want you to forgive yourself”.  I gave him another hug and told him to take care.

In that package was a big, beautiful, sacred crystal that is now buried in the center of my medicine wheel garden, directly over Ember.  They both face west toward Ember’s native Colorado and my sacred spaces out west.

Practice empathy. Forgiveness. Grace.  They will lift our burdens and those of others.  It’s hard when you’re hurting, but it will ease our pain.

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Tossing the baggage….

baggageI got a reiki session yesterday to begin to clear away some of the grief that has settled into my body. Reiki is sort of like a massage for your energy field and is designed to dissipate or dissolve any blockages and get the good stuff flowing again.

During this session I received a very clear message that said: “You have got to stop carrying all of this baggage. Stop carrying both you and your husband’s burdens.”

It came through clear as day. The interesting thing is that I’ve been suffering with elbow pain for months and none of my practitioners could figure out what was causing it. Lugging around heavy baggage, perhaps?

I believe that we carry all of our emotions in every cell in our bodies, meaning that over time, the bad stuff builds up and causes pain and disease. Chronic and very serious disease. Like cancer and auto-immune afflictions and diabetes and arthritis. Biggies. We carry around lots of guilt, regret, unexpressed anger, rejection, abuse, both verbal and physical; all of the things that add up to a lot of pain in our lives.

So, I sat down to make of list of what I’ve been carrying around that was resulting in psychic pain and sore elbows. It was quite a long list, but a big, glaring one happened recently and so I figure I would just unpack it and see if you can relate.

I am trying to balance being honest and authentic with being kind, to myself and my fellow humans. I’ve always been quite blunt, but that doesn’t always mean I’ve been honest, but now I’m trying to ask myself how I truly feel about friendships, obligations, invitations etc.

A few months ago, a close friend from long ago, popped up on my Facebook page and we re-connected. She reached out to me and quite honestly, when I saw her request, my first words were “Oh, shit”. Our relationship ended about 10 years ago; it was one of those that just wilted. No big bang or blow-out. She was not responsive during a difficult time with my husband’s health and I decided it was time to “weed my garden”.

Now, I will admit that I never really heard her side and wasn’t all that interested. In my view, the friendship had just run its course.  We texted and messaged for about a month and she was going through a difficult time, having lost her mother a few years ago and more recently her father. She wanted to talk and I just wasn’t ready, so I told her that I had been angry with her for about 10 years.

Let’s just say my timing was not good and it turned very ugly, very quickly. As I was writing my note to her, explaining why I just wasn’t ready to talk, a little voice was whispering…okay screaming in my ear, this will NOT go over well. She will NOT react well or take this in the spirit you intend. But, of course, I hit ‘send’ anyway.

Add this to my bag of guilt that I’m toting around, causing my elbows to scream in pain. I wanted to be honest and tell her that I wasn’t quite ready to fully resume our friendship. I had hoped it would open a discussion between two grown-ups, but it did not. I am afraid that I was unkind and selfish to dump it on her. However, I felt it needed to be said.

How on earth do we all navigate this stuff? How do we communicate our truths and our feelings without bruising others?

This is one, minor incident, but it illustrates the stuff that burrows into our cells and make us feel small or cruel or mean. That is baggage. It’s not necessarily the huge, glaring mistakes that we’ve made, although those weigh very heavily as well. But, I’ve found that I can sort of stand back and get some perspective on my big-ass screw ups. It’s the little ones that take me down.

We all say we prefer honesty, but I think that’s a lie. We don’t. Which is probably why we have such a hard time being honest with ourselves and why we often don’t say what we mean or ask for what we really need.

I was not ready to resume this friendship and my sneaky way of expressing that was to say something that I KNEW in my gut, would end it. So I did and it worked and now I feel crappy about it.

Kind of. Part of me said Thank GOD that’s over. So, there are two sides to every action, but I tend to only focus on the part where I can beat myself up. That is what clearing baggage is about. It’s when you can look at a mistake in judgment or a moment of unkind behavior and forgive yourself.

My affirmation for today is: I forgive myself. Try it. My elbows feel better already.

March 14, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Reset, reboot….reject

resetWhat if we all had a reset button? Maybe in the middle of our forehead or more subtly placed behind our ear. You wouldn’t want to press it too often; maybe never.  But if you did, you would go back to your default settings.  Back to before you screwed up.  We could go back to how we were as children.

Imagine that.   No bias, no guilt, no pre-conceptions, nothing.  Just a clean slate.  I kind of like that idea.  I like it even though I’ve often proclaimed that everything that I’ve done in my life has gotten me to this very moment; lessons learned, mistakes made, success achieved, along with pain, guilt, and failure.  We are all the jumbled events of our lives and our choices and sometimes that results in a lot of unhappiness, doesn’t it?

Or maybe that’s just me.  I’m trying mightily to expunge the demons of my past.  Alcoholism and the pain and mistrust that it infused into my relationships are central to my struggle. So much from that part of my life still dogs me, even though I hope that I’ve put it behind me.  But, you never can because people don’t forget.  I don’t forget.  I can’t.

So, there are times that I’d like to jab that reset button and make it all go away.  To open my eyes after my reboot to a fresh slate.  To see things for the first time, the way a child does.  With amazement and curiosity and freshness.  No reflexive defense mechanisms, no automatic responses to anxiety or insecurity, no fear of being hurt or burned or rejected, no manic need to try and control the world and make it bend to my needs and will.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?  But, life on earth means that we are forced to carry the burdens we’ve wrought and of course, to celebrate the goodness and happiness we’ve achieved. The reset erases everything good, bad or inconsequential.  So, most of us wouldn’t want to sacrifice the good stuff to get rid of the bad.  Some of us might consider it, though.

I mentioned my idea to my husband and he was unequivocal, “no, all that stuff has made me who I am”.  He’s right, but there are times when some of us aren’t too keen on ‘who we are’.  I look at who I was as a child and who I am today and I marvel at the stuff that seems to have glommed onto my psyche and has made me so different from the 5 year-old me.  Or the 10 year-old or 15 year-old, for that matter.  Let’s not mention the 25 year-old.  She is dead to me.

These experiences are like barnacles on a rock; after awhile, you can’t see the rock.  It becomes covered and misshapen and completely overtaken by the foreign organisms. The rock is no more.  But, it’s under there just like our essence or soul is there, buried underneath our life experiences.

So, how to break off the barnacles? How to re-emerge as the fresh, open, trustful, happy, innocent, loving, curious ‘me’?  I’m not sure, but I do know that it’s a process and it takes time.  I feel like I’ve at least recognized that I’m covered in barnacles and maybe I’ve been able to slough a few off with introspection, time and a little counseling.  The process continues and I guess we all have to reach a point where we just live with our past.  We acknowledge that being human, means screwing up.

The Buddhists say that as humans, we are born to suffer.  It’s unavoidable and so we must learn to deal with it, regardless of whether it’s self-imposed by bad choices and behavior or is dropped onto us by other suffering humans.  Being born means we need to expect it, accept it and do what we can to lessen our own pain and the pain of others.  Rather than push away the discomfort, swim in it, observe it, feel it deeply.  The alternative is probably not as healthy, particularly if it involves drugs, alcohol, food or other self-medicating behavior.

So, no reset button.  We all have to live with our choices, even though a lot of them suck.  Here’s to moving forward with better choices, eh?

May 13, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , | 7 Comments

Define Happiness

Happiness is elusive to me.  What is it? How do you recognize it?  How do you nurture it?  It appears that the more we get, the less happy we are.  Read the numerous happiness surveys that are published every year.  The land of milk and honey is full of the fat and UNhappy.

My understanding of happiness is beginning to evolve, which is a good thing, since I’ve spent the last few years feeling like I’d never grasp it.  I think I was was fairly happy as a kid; most of my memories are of good times.  I think I was happy in college and I was happy when I met and married my husband.  Obviously, there were times of unhappiness and disappointment in my life, but that’s normal, right?  I’m currently in a phase where I’m feeling restless, but not necessarily unhappy.

What fascinates me are people who unequivocally say, “yeah, I’m happy”.  Period.  No buts, disclaimers, back-peddling or guilt.   Women in particular, seem to have trouble embracing the concept of  happiness or contentment.  Admitting or submitting to that, means we’re not working on ourselves and EVERYONE has work to do on themselves, don’t they?  Nobody is perfect and to proclaim your happiness means that you are somehow better than your imperfect sister friends.  Or maybe that’s just my bias.

We did a quick segment on our radio show, asking people to tell us their favorite way to waste time.  One woman called and said, taking a nap.  I replied that in my opinion, if you’re tired, you should sleep.  She replied “well, my mother always said napping is a waste of time.  Think of all the other more productive things you could be doing”.

Ah, yes…..the “my mother said” syndrome.  We’ve all fallen back on that one, haven’t we ladies? The idea that ‘productive’ overrides filling your soul or doing something just because you want to.   Happiness isn’t an all or nothing proposition.  It’s a series of little epiphanies; of living in the moment.

It’s recognizing what you’re feeling, while you’re feeling it.  That feeling could be joy, it could be contentment, it could be orgasmic, it could be surrender, or clarity but in that moment, what you’re feeling is happiness.  Feel it, remember it, catalog it and internalize it.  Happiness doesn’t necessarily explode, but rather, it seeps and sprinkles.

Work on being open to it.  A nice nap is a great start.

July 25, 2011 Posted by | Musings | , , , | 7 Comments


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