A catalyst for change, from the heart.

There’s a fun song by Ray Charles called Smack Dab in the Middle. Have a listen, it’s a fun song. My question to you is, are you smack dab in the middle of your world? If not, why not? I know it sounds selfish and self-centered to make you be first. But isn’t that the best way to be able to assist others? I think I have written about this before here. The message is, you can only truly be of service once your own house is in order. Caring for myself first, I knew on an intellectual/informative level. Think Head. But the idea had not quite come home to roost. Think Heart. This post explains how I made the change from head to heart.

If you are the caretaker for others, be they human or animal, you have to be and think and do for yourself first. You can’t keep giving and giving without you at the center. Otherwise your well will run dry and when you try and ‘fix’ what is wrong you’ll be out of energy. You might not even realize what is wrong. That’s where I have often found myself of late. But I have felt so very connected to Spirit these past years, how could this be? (Chuckling to myself.)

The almighty Universe has a way of sending lessons when you need them, in the most unlikely of forms. Usually one after the other in quick succession to get your attention. I call that the 2×4 over the head. You’d think by now I’d be wearing a cosmic helmet! The last lesson to me came by way of my horse, Silver.

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In the middle of a rare sleet storm at 10:32pm my horse Silver went sick. I was surprised when my vet returned my call about a minute after I left a voicemail message. Off we went arriving in town around midnight. We left Silver in good hands. Silver went for two visits over a 10 day period until we figured out what it was. At first we thought it was colic, which can kill a horse. Turned out he has ulcers. At least ulcers are treatable and not fatal. So relieved, but that 10 days was hard on my nerves. It felt like I was walking on pins and needles, the feeling in my core was panic. Yeah, that’s not good. What’s up with that? Where did my calm demeanor go. You know, the one that comes forward when I give other people advice? (Oh the irony!)

Worries that compounded my situation were many. My elderly dog, Google, is my soul dog. His attitude is stellar but he’s near the end of his time on the planet, that is clear. My elderly mother is on my mind. I live 1200 miles away from her and I miss her. A family member who is dear to me has been diagnosed with cancer. The family is still reeling from the news. At my job, I work with good folk, but I have to be there in mind and body. All these things plus Silver’s problem added up to feeling totally overwhelmed and a little wobbly. Pema Chödrön would say it is good to get used to that feeling of groundlessness. Oh that’s hard to do. It takes practice. I know I should not let things I have no control over worry me a la Byron Kaite. But it’s hard to drop all that other stuff, especially if those involved are close to your heart.

During this ten day ordeal before we got the diagnosis on Silver, my friend Ren and I were texting. I told her I felt overwhelmed, drained, and in a panic. This is not my usual ‘from love’ space. It was a ‘from fear’ space, and she and her son could see this. She asked me a question. A real life changing question. She said…

“Got a hard question for you: Is Patty or are Patty’s Animals #1 in your world?”

In the past the answer has always been, my animals come first. I would brag to people my animals are fed in the morning before I eat. I pop out of bed like toast, rush to get outside to feed. I am out in my chore boots, PJ’s, bathrobe and coat before the sun is up, complete with headlamp so I can see the hay bales in the dark. I look like a walking rummage sale.

Is it necessary to eclipse my own life to care for others? Is this level of care really necessary? Well knock me over with a feather! By answering the question, I could see past events of my life with deep clarity. On the spot I was able to rethink my core actions and act from that new center of self-love. Wow. Powerful stuff. I had been putting everyone else first, and that had been so hard wired in me. There is nothing wrong with caring for your critters or other folk, but to not put yourself first means you can drain yourself unnecessarily. Your world will seem off center, like seeing from the perspective of being picked up by the tornado. If you come from center, you can be the calm eye of the storm. I knew my friends’ words rang true and it was a great catalyst for change. It was a large pivot point for living the rest of my life from.

There is a better way to live and still care for everyone. As nurturers, women are taught to give and do and make and cook and bring and organize and tutor and orchestrate and comfort and direct and teach and you name it. I needed to unlearn a lot of old programming in how to approach this role.  Ren told me when she made this change to loving the self first, she didn’t love her kids any less. In fact she loved them more, because she loved herself more. Folks this is a golden nugget of information, founded in love. I could work with this! I could still work with Spirit, love and care for myself, and then tackle what the rest of the world brought to my door. Wise words indeed! I am much indebted to Ren for this awakening in me.

I instantly was able to re-arrange my day on the fly, taking care of what I needed, before caring for others. It was a small change, that made a big difference, and no one was left wanting as a result. In fact everything felt better, more right, and more natural. So simple, yet so powerful. Now this lesson had come home to roost in my heart.

Before you go out into the world assisting others, keep this in mind. What base are you operating from? A base of self-love first, caring for yourself first? Are you really truly coming from love, or are you coming from a sense of guilt or a sense of duty? It’s a hard question to ask. But for me, it changed my life in an instant. You can do this too.

Comments always welcomed and encouraged. 

 

 

Strange energies abound—How about you?

The following is mostly word-for-word between myself and a long time friend. It pretty much describes the feeling of being in a holding pattern, being involved, yet not seeming to get anywhere despite lots of work. Not quite stuck, but not going anywhere yet. Experiencing some of the crazy energy patterns at this time of great change. My friends response to me was articulate in a way that is clearer than I could have described it. Plus she hit the nail on the head several times. Read on.

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Dear Faye,

I have this feeling of not being able to land….and flying round in the air instead. Yup. That’s the stuck feeling I have been in for a while. Stuck is really too harsh a word. It’s more like a holding pattern. I feel like I’m doing everything right, but things are not aligned yet. Much is happening on many fronts, but I don’t feel like I am moving forward exactly. It does not feel wrong by any means. I can’t go back to where I was, and going forward is not quite ‘a go’ even though I know what I need to do. I also feel exhaustion off and on. Mostly on. What’s your take on it? Are you experiencing the same thing?

Dear Patty,

This energy lately has been hard. That’s the only word I have for it. I can see everyone around me stressed all at the same time. Sometimes interactions are coming out sideways.

I know that every moment there is a choice to buy into the negative expiring energy or relax and find the fresh and new. Sometimes I fall back into patterns and “everything sucks, this isn’t fair, etc.” Other times I am able to take a breath and rise above. Either way it’s hard to stay unaffected.

It’s feels like watching that storm happening outside. You know you are inside where it is warm and dry. You know it’s unlikely a tree will fall on your house or a tornado will tear off your roof, but you still can’t really relax until the storm passes.

Interesting thing is that I am noticing more and more people that seem asleep. I don’t know if that means I am becoming more aware or just that energy changes are highlighting things.

The other day I needed to drive downtown. I was passed by a car going too fast who cut me off. You know the situation: I’m following a car going the speed of traffic, who is following another car ahead of you, etc., etc. There really is nowhere to go faster than the crowd, but yet, this person just “needs” to pass you because you’re not going fast enough. We drove together for 20 minutes. I went the speed of traffic. They tried to pass and weave and get ahead. We arrived down town literally side-by-side, but I think we had much different trips.

I’m trying really hard to not be the person in that car who is not recognizing that they have a choice. They are only making it difficult for themselves and less enjoyable for others traveling with them.

I resonated so deeply with her response. She said it better than I could have. I loved to hear her perspective on things since we seem to have parallel experiences in the Jungles of Time and Space. The storm analogy gave me chills and I felt that was true for me. I feel like I am part of a huge worldwide energy storm, witnessing it in action as I sit on the sidelines in wonder and awe. Sometimes I have to get dressed in my mukluks and macintosh and go out and be in that storm. Sometimes I can sit on the sidelines. One thing is true, no one can get out from under what we are experiencing now. We are all in it. Some feel safer than others and some are more affected by it. Some days are great, some days I’m Dorothy in the cyclone.

The story of the driver of the other car is a great reminder to me to slow down my thinking and return to center when I am in a panic. Being in a panic is not being very grounded or spiritually connected. It happens to all of us. It’s a crazy disjointed way to expend energy since you can’t get to where you want to go any faster than the ‘traffic’ around you. I have to remind myself what is going on in the outer world is not always serving the highest good, and to take note of it, and act/or not, accordingly. I hate it when I have relapses of panic or frustration. They seem to happen almost daily with life’s little ups and downs. It feels a little embarrassing to lose my cool or get flustered. Conversely if I see others in a panic, rage, frustrated or doing other similar activities, I like to be the space for them to do what they need to, and send love. 

This is another way meditation helps. As soon as you notice you are off track, gently return to center without judgment. My image is like moving a bubble with a feather. Gently acknowledge you were off track and return to grace. You can do this anytime, not just in meditation. That’s as graceful as it gets. Every time you return to center is a victory. Even if you feel you were the bull in the China shop. Every time you return to center makes it easier to do it next time. And it energetically helps everyone else.

Make some small movement and things that have felt stuck will eventually shift. Give it time. keep forging ahead in little ways each day. There will be periods of rest that seem like stagnation. Nothing is stagnant. Trust me on this. Every day I do get better and better. Some days I feel the weight of many more years of ‘stuff’ to get through. Some days I feel like I am one of the lucky ones to be on earth at this time. Elated, energized and ready to rock!

If you need inspiration, keep in mind it’s not just all about you, or me, or one individual. It’s not even just about your town, the country or the planet. Spirit is always learning from us. I always think of it this way, Spirit is helping us and we are the ones in the trenches. They admire us for being on the front lines. You are a trailblazer right along with the best of them. So keep on keepin on, and be good to your fellow travelers along the way.

Note to self: Begging is not co-creating

Funny how a simple statement like the headline above has to be learned. Last week Friday I discovered all three dogs had cattle ticks deep in their ears. In the past they have had to go under anesthesia to remove ticks from the ear drum. Expensive time consuming, hard on the animal, and disruptive. Situations like these can bring on a mild panic. My regular vet was out of town so I had to make some calls. Finally I found a place that would take all three dogs. Small miracle! As a friend put it, I did a great job of co-creating to make that happen, through a passionate heart. (I love feedback like that.) So far so good.

As the day unfolded, what would normally be a stressful situation was somehow okay. I noticed a small tug when I felt panic rising about what could be an expensive, time consuming aftercare nightmare. This tug I felt made me feel more grounded. More calm. I gave credit to this new feeling to meditating regularly using Headspace. (Thanks Judy!) Meditating is relatively new for me and without the Headspace app, it would not be possible. As a result I am making progress in handling what life throws me. I am continually finding places to improve that will help me feel more grounded in all situations. Life takes practice. Often one small step at a time.

After the vet visit, in my rush to get back home, I realized one dog had no ticks but still had ear problems and I had not discussed it with the vet. The pain would send my dog rocketing across the room in a fright. Through the weekend we were unable to sleep. Monday I took him to the vet again, and we decided to have him neutered while he was under anesthesia for the ear checkup. It was long overdue and would be nice to get that out of the way.

Life can be stressful with a recovering animal. This particular pet goes into freakout mode so easily. I live 42 miles from work (one way). I spend time planning and making sure everything’s hunky dory so I can care for my pets and fit the rest of life in there somehow. I can’t run an errand or grocery shop with a pet in the car it’s too hot here yet. Too much activity wears me out. I needed to be able to care for my dog, Goat Cheese, and have a clear mind for my job. (Cochise is his name, but it’s hard for many to pronounce, so we call him Goat Cheese.) I had already taken most of Friday off for the first dog emergency and I felt bad about having to take more time off. Time to talk to Spirit.

As I was driving to the vet to pick up Goat Cheese after his surgery, I was talking to Spirit asking “Please make sure everything is great….so I don’t freak out. So I can handle it.” But I stopped mid sentence and changed my mind altogether. My plea did not sound right. I thought, hey let’s do it a new way instead. Let’s confirm with Spirit that I will handle anything that comes my way. Small changes can bring big results. My new wording was a complete reversal. Asking for things to be okay is begging and that didn’t feel right to me. By changing my verbiage, I am affirming with with Spirit that I will be able to handle anything, as in “I can do this.” This felt much more positive, light and happy. In fact it felt very freeing! I was filled with confidence and I was happy! You can’t help but be happy when you know you can handle anything. This was a way of positively anticipating feelings of groundlessness or anything contrary to the norm. More growth!

Spiritually minded people know the time of duality is ending and oneness is coming. But right now we are all in the trenches, and life is going to present us with a lot of chaos. No one wants this. We all want a relatively stress free life. But we all know that is not how life is at the moment. Anything that is out of sync, possibly stressful can be upsetting emotionally. We all want to go back to our normal routine for that feeling of safety and security. For me, I hate it when any of my animals is sick or hurt. They are my kids. It is another Achilles Heel. Since I teach others to handle life with grace and ease, I ought to practice what I preach. I realized mid-sentence that begging is not a great way of co-creating. To ask or beg is to be in reactive mode, not in co-creative mode. Now we’re cooking with gas! This changes everything. It empowers, thrills and delights!

Having blogged about this previously, it can’t hurt to remind my readers that putting new habits into practice can be an ongoing process. It takes time to make a new behavior and a new mindset and way of life. No one is perfect, especially me!

“For years I have read about, and really tried integrating this mindfulness into everyday life. But life has a way of making you rushed and crazy sometimes…It’s going to take some time for it to really come home to roost. I’m not yet at the point of 24/7 mindfulness or totally unstressed life. But, coming a little closer to it doesn’t suck!”

I also recently talked about the obvious solution to feeling rushed off your feet here, so why am I still needing to improve when I already know the answer?  Because I am a spiritual being in human body. We need time to really incorporate things we know (intellectually) into our lives until we get it on a whole other level, a soul level. Practice makes perfect, unless you have an a-ha moment. That’s instant!

Learning to handle stressful situations by dumping the idea of being panicked is something I will work on until I get it. It’s all I have talked about to others: Living in the moment, being the author of your life, dropping the worry, not jumping to conclusions, trusting that Spirit has my back, flipping it, and so on. This time I was a little closer. I felt a little better and a little more grounded. Good co-creating means learning to tackle your demons along the way. Tackling these demons can become some of the most freeing moments of your life.

Ask, relax, and allow the answer in

If you are using your intuition but are not getting anything, ask Spirit. I have heard it hundreds of times, and I know it intellectually. But sometimes it takes an awareness during or after an experience to really bring it home. It needs to rest in your heart. For me this has been a hit and miss affair. Something happened to me the other day that helped me get that part of the co-creating process. It was the lynch pin to my understanding.

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I tend to overthink things, but I am both a technical as well a creative person. It’s like having a foot in each world. I usually think things over a lot—sometimes too much—to get to know the How To part of anything new. This is part of the process of how I Grok something. Even something spiritual and intuitive in nature can be intellectualized before understanding dawns. Breaking things into smaller pieces to analyse them is a good way to understand the process. Experience and observation leads to internalizing. Once internalized, then you have something new for your toolkit! But something was missing for me. The other day I had an experience that brought it all home for me. Now I have this process internalized in a way that I will always know how to succeed.

Side Note: Observation about yourself is how you learn to do things differently in order to succeed. For me, the most surprising activity that helps incubate an a-ha moment is writing. I often take a few days to write my idea out, leave it, then pick it back up. Things will bubble on the back burner. Later I may see things differently, and sometimes solutions come up as I write. I am in no way a professional writer, and in fact only started a few months ago, so you can do this too.

This life changing a-ha moment was a combination of receiving heartfelt instruction, a bit of left-brain thinking, some writing, and then relaxing and letting go to receive the answer. It’s not quite …do these steps, 1, 2, 3, then you get it. It’s a sort of a hodgepodge. Once experienced you will not have to think on it. You’ll have it.

The problem: In an earlier blog post I explained how I hate the modern idea of marketing. There must be another way that is more authentic, more fun, more me. As I ruminated on an answer, I received the following advice from Rena kindred spirit. This advice helped me approach the answer in a new way.

“Look to Patty [yourself] for answers. Go to your God inside. You will know how to reach out and find “Patty People”. Your heart is a brain.”

Side Note: The idea that your heart is a brain is a relatively new idea kicking around the Spiritual community. In a newsletter I get from Gregg Braden he states: “The recent discovery of the ‘little brain’ in the heart [is] a collection of sensory neurons that think, remember and learn independently from the neurons in our brain…” It’s a topic worth looking into. Our society is sorely in need of balance between head and heart. 

The Key: The advice from Ren was heartfelt, simple and worked like a charm. Future support I received from her that day was as follows:  You got this! Deep breath. Go ride a horse, touch the earth, hug a tree, relax. Let go and allow in. You will succeed. I thought briefly about her advice, knowing she was right about the allowing part. The word ‘allow’ resonated with me and I knew for me that was key. But how to do that? Yep there I go thinking too much! It must be experienced. The fact that she was sure I would find my own answers was unexpected, kind, and lovely support. Being supported in that way felt great and very energizing! Do it when you can for others.

Knowing I have a tendency to overthink things, I knew the answer was to get outside to do chores. Physical activity is a great way to take a break. A dreaded chore for (some) horse owners is picking up horse poop with one of those large scooper rakes. For me, it’s a wonderful way to meditate. Like doing dishes by hand. It gets you in a frame of mind to be receptive, and you forget about everything else. This is good, like preparing the soil to be receptive to the seed.

The catalyst: As I scooped poop my mind went elsewhere and I relaxed. The day was lovely with bright sun and the coolness of autumn in the air. The quality of sunlight in October is unparallelled! Read the poem, October’s bright blue weather, by Helen Hunt Jackson. It was like being in one of those snow globes, experiencing a rare and gorgeous clear fall day. I was experiencing life in the moment. Then a solution to my marketing delima popped into my head and floated down like a leaf. There it was, waiting for me. It might not be the whole enchilada, but it is a stepping stone to success. Something doable and something very me. And I would not have thought of this on my own, without asking and being receptive to an answer.

The answer: Yes ladies and gentlemen, puttering is the answer to allowing. Finally I got it. Finally I understand the process! Allowing was the point where I was not getting it. (Your blocks may lie elsewhere.) I was working too hard and that intent focus became a roadblock to success. That had been the hiccup in my process. Now I know, puttering is a great way to get out of my own way and allow the Universe in!

So, if you feel stuck for answers, ask the Universe, do a little research to show that you are invested in working toward your goal, and go pick up some horse poop. ;-0 You will find where your roadblocks are if you are a genuine student of yourself/the Universe. If you strive to learn and understand, you will succeed! If you get outside support, good for you! Please don’t give up on yourself. You are worth it and your new understanding contributes to the whole, in ways you cannot imagine.

Please feel free to join in a dialogue, as this blog is meant to be a community forum for ideas, learning and sometimes a little entertainment. 😉

 

Letting go of waiting

I think I was born to wait on others. Something that has my adult self wondering if I am an inflexible stick-in-the-mud of some sort. See the article My Kryptonite and Expect the Unexpected. I don’t want to be strict about it, and I want to have a very flexible attitude and outlook. But sometimes I really feel tested.

When I was younger, around grade school age or earlier, I waited endless nights for my dad to come home from work. I recall watching headlights go by hour after hour wishing so hard that the next set of lights would turn the corner and into our driveway. Wishing did not make it so. I remember feeling so confused and crushed by this, and as a child, ‘high functioning alcoholic’ was not in my vocabulary.

Now that I have my own place I like things to happen in my own time, on my schedule. It is wonderful and dreamy! Let me tell you, I love being free. Yes, I crave company just like anyone else. But when you are expecting someone and they don’t show or don’t communicate…my blood boils. I guess you could say it’s one of my red, shiny buttons. We don’t like having our buttons pushed, yet we all have them.

Now, don’t get the idea I am so inflexible that it’s not okay to show up. I understand things happen. Life has a way of interrupting our plans. Flat tires happen, as do a change of plans, people get sick, they are delayed, or some other emergency happens. I get it.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” —John Lennon

It’s just never okay to not show up without some sort of communication about it. To me it is an great lack of respect. Anything is better than to be left hanging. Nothing is worse than to be that invisible, forgotten person. Ah, that’s the point of my frustration! Back to the I’m invisible mantra that dogged me most of my life. When it came to my waiting on dad, that was never really resolved. As a child I had to be invisible during the rants and arguments going on between my parents. On the other hand I craved his attention as any child wants to have a daddy. He was not able to fulfill anything on that level for me, or any of us kids for that matter. If he had more time on the planet, I think that might have been explored a bit. But he died relatively young.

You would think that by now I would have slain this old dragon, who probably is so old his whiskers are dragging on the ground and he has to use a cane to get around. But I know when something still bugs me (or comes up) it’s in my life for a reason. I have to follow my own advice and think on why lessons repeat. I still have something to learn from this. The key is something still needs exploring—about me, or about the process—not about the other person involved. It’s not on them to fix a thing. I need to change my energy about it. That has to be brought to the next level up.

I am being triggered, but am also feeling inflexible, reactive, and should not let anyone else have this much power over me. I feel really silly, like I am back in child mode because the feeling doesn’t dissipate in seconds, like I want it to. Even though I intellectually know I have to let go, be more flexible and live in the moment, the feeling of irritation lingers.  Maybe that is natural even in the letting go process? Maybe the letting go of anything feelings happens in stages.

On a good note, a friend was with me that day, and was very understanding and supportive. Let me tell you that was a welcoming experience, and it was much appreciated! Being supported when you experience groundless and helpless feelings is really an act of love. I am in gratitude!

I will have to dig deeper and get over that feeling of not being in control, of being ignored, and that whole bundle of items that pop up. I must learn to be truly happy in the moment no matter what unexpected things occur. For me that will be a lifetime practice. It must be an art form to let go of waiting. 

This blog is a forum where life’s ups and downs can be explored and discussed. Please add to the discussion your experiences, thoughts, and ruminations!

 

My dinosaur-sized bone of contention.

Don’t let anyone mess with your head. It can happen easily if you have been in a long-term relationship, or are in love. Being human, we all know everyone has different takes on what happened and what was said. We experience things differently, each one of us. Humans are fallible. If you have ever been on a jury, you will know that even if all twelve jurors hear the same words, there will be twelve interpretations of what was said. I’m here to tell you, do not ever let anyone tell you your version is not the truth, not true for you, or let them tell you your memory or opinion is wrong.

Back when I was married my husband would tell me my memories were not accurate, if things didn’t go his way in a discussion. And I mean he’d say this two seconds after I told him my version of..whatever. Like he thought I would not remember what I just said two seconds ago. I realize not everyone hears or sees things the same. That is not what he meant when he said that. He meant only he remembered things the right way or the right thing. You will not be surprised to learn this man had to win absolutely every discussion to make him feel good about himself. I realized long ago he loved arguing for the sake of argument and all he wanted was the win, at others expense. It made him feel superior. If he had a bad day at work, it made his day to squash me in anything. I tell you, love makes you blind!

My only defense in this impossible situation was to say “That’s how things are in my Universe.” I started to use that phrase and I really liked it. I lived by it. I guess I had to create my own space to be me. To experience things as I experienced them, to remember them as only I remembered them. A place to be me and be comfortable and safe. Now that I’m not in that relationship, I don’t use that phrase anymore. (I just realized that!) I don’t have a need since I’m a part of THE Universe.

My ex had a very high IQ and he thought that gave him carte blanche to be the head honcho, the winner, the boss, the man. But of my memories? No I think not. He constantly told me I had a problem with my brain and that I had memory recall problems. He really wanted to make me feel small and insufficient. He needed to win to feel he was alive. He was adamant about this, and insisted, to the point of having a week long hissy fit and personal implosion, that only he had the correct memory of anything we did or discussed. In his world, he was God. For him this was not negotiable to think anything else. This was a bone of contention for me. A big bone….like dinosaur sized.

Our relationship did not start out this way. At first his intelligence and creativity made him fun to be around. As the years passed he was fired from over 30 jobs due to his terrible Prima Donna attitude. The core of this attitude was he had to be right, always. It was never possible in his world that he was the one that needed fixing. To tell me I had memory problems was his way out of ditching any personal responsibility for his problems.

I learned years later of one particular meeting he had at a major university where he was presenting his web designs. He arrived late with no excuse, and told his boss, and people above his boss’ level they were wrong and he was right. Who were they to tell him anything about his designs? Then he stormed out of the meeting. No wonder he was fired. From there he slid into chronic unemployment and chronic anger at the outside world. It did not occur to him that he needed fixing. He always insisted his IQ was his identity and his best tool. How could it possibly be broken? To him it was inconceivable.

As his new mantra of ‘what you remember is wrong’  was more frequently used, it would make me furious. I had no way to combat it other than to insist I had my own views, in my own Universe. It was a construct that, at the time, worked for me. Those feelings of being furious at him for bringing up this myopic and unyielding viewpoint was my intuition telling me there was a huge, huge red flag in this relationship. I was not being treated right. This was not in my best interest. I was finally starting to wake up! I started to listen to this feeling inside me. I started standing up for myself more and more. I didn’t know it then, but I was finding my voice for the first time ever. This happened in my early 50s.

There were many red flags like this in a short period of time as the marriage crumbled. Like a house of cards falling, or the Matrix where the illusion falls apart. This occurred as I stood up for what I believed more frequently. As a result of me seeking equality and freedom, the arguments became more agitated and violent, and escalated very quickly, like Vesuvius going off every few days. There was a crack in the veneer of the marriage. It needed to happen. It was painful to experience, and I really had a hard time being on the planet. But it was necessary in my education about life and about finding my own voice. I believe Hell exists because it is here on Earth. I have been there. The saying “If you are going through hell, keep on going” was apt.

Now that I have had years of distance, those nightmare days seem like a faraway land. But the pain and suffering was very real at the time. I can still feel wave after wave of relief coming to me years after getting out of the abuse I suffered daily. Many lifetimes of relief! I sometimes wonder how many past lifetimes I affected by freeing myself. The relief feels so good, still. I feel like kicking my heels up! Now I would never listen to such advice about one person having ‘the truth’ or the God View. I would laugh at anyone who told me only they had the correct version of the truth. Then I would look back at the old me with some forgiveness and understanding.

The takeaway lesson kids is, it’s never okay for anyone to tell you your truth is wrong and their truth is right. No matter if they love you, or you love them. Listen to your instincts and intuition. Your truths can be different and leave it at that. Is it really that important to remember exactly what was said? Is it really important to win an argument? Instead of one person being right or wrong, shouldn’t we seek harmony as a result of any disagreement?

Lesson two would be the long-term view. When things brew slowly over the years and you are in it, you can’t see it happening. I didn’t see it happening until we were in the thick of things. It took years for me to wake up. Please don’t let that happen to you. Be vigilant of your values and how you let yourself be treated by others. If you find someone in your life does not have your best interest at heart, something is off. Reconsider what is really happening. Dismiss all the little things that the argument seems to be about, and look at how you are being treated overall. You might find the courage to scratch them off your list of friends or even spouses, as you find your own truth and your own voice. (Cue happy ending music and unicorns jumping over rainbows.)

What nature tells us about bullying.

I am not sure I know if bullying is a good thing or a bad thing. For people, yes, it’s not a good thing. Or is it? I have two examples taken from nature and it has made me think about the subject  much more deeply than the knee-jerk “no it’s never okay to be a bully” line of thinking. At least it warrants a deeper look.

Please know, in no way am I making light of anyone who has been a victim of bullying. And I am not condoning the practice. Too many people have been hurt by it. But maybe there is a better way around things? Maybe nature is trying to tell us a few things about it? I always look to nature for examples on how to handle what life throws me.

Example 1: North America’s smallest hummingbird is the Calliope, small and delicate with beautiful, long, deep purple-magenta throat feathers. The Calliope is a gentle creature. Hummingbirds come to New Mexico in early spring. They have a few short months to enjoy nectar at feeders and flowers until mid July when the Rufous comes and takes center stage. The Rufous has been described as a ‘relentless attacker’ at feeders and flowers, chasing of any and all other birds. Except, that is, for the diminutive Calliope.

The tiny Calliope is unflappable as he sits and sips as much nectar as he wishes. How is that possible with the bully around? Their secret weapon is to totally ignore the big bully of the neighborhood. That’s his take on it. Ignore the bully and that seems to solve the problem. For hummingbirds that does work, because they rarely, if ever, actually make physical contact when fighting or defending territory. It’s just a big show of flying around, making lots of noise, ‘sword’ fights mid air with those long beaks, airal dogfight pursuits, and no-contact dive bombing others at the feeder. So, no matter how relentless and ongoing the attack of the Rufous is, the Calliope simply ignores the attacks, and keeps on quietly sipping nectar. I have seen it dozens of times.

I wonder if people that bully are the same. I would think bullies are loud and obnoxious and ‘relentless attackers’ but would rarely make physical contact. Is this true? It seems to me bullies are hiding behind their cowardice. That’s what all the bravado is about—fear. So, it might be worth a shot to try something different like ignoring the bully as much as possible. At least it is worthy of thought. In no way am I giving advice here, just seems to be worthy of examining what makes a bully tick, and how to handle an encounter with one. I would think that being sweet and kind in response might throw a bully off track. They usually expect fear, retaliation and anger in response to their efforts. Kindness might totally throw them off track. This is not the reaction they expect at all. I call it killing them with kindness. In any case, it might be a new way to unhook from the bullying scenario.

Example 2: Switching to horses, the story is different. A neighbor of mine, Bud, recently acquired a 10 year-old gelding named Sarge. Sarge was raised by a sweet lady, with no other horses around. He had a nice area to run in, a lovely stall, saw the best vet, and was fed grain, and lead a pampered life as a trail horse. She had to sell him because of her declining health.

Sarge had a nice attitude and was obedient when he first got to Bud’s home. (My horses are kept with my neighbors for five months of the year.) Upon releasing Sarge to the pasture where my horses live, his attitude and obedience changed over the space of a few short weeks. He started kicking and biting both of us people! What? How come? He was so sweet when he came to us. What happened to turn him? I figured it out simply by being observant. For most of my life I have been an ardent observer of nature and animals. So much can be learned by observation alone.

I realized his horse, upon being introduced to my old-timer horses, well seasoned in the way of herd mentality, changed him into a bully. In a herd of horses, there is a dominant horse. There is a hazing of sorts and a pecking order that exists and it must be adhered to for the safety of the herd. Horses are taught this by living in a herd, or small group of other horses. They trust their lives to this lead horse. But it is a position that is fought for.

My older, larger horse, Scar, weighing in at around 1400 lbs, was the lead horse in my little herd, or anywhere he went. No one messed with him, but normally he was a gentle giant. He was not a draft horse, but very well muscled and large. Think Hoss Cartwright of Bonanza (Dan Blocker). My other horse, Silver, is about 900lbs, slight frame, and almost always the bottom of the bunch. He’s too sweet and never wants to fight anyone. I think he’s a closet unicorn! With the introduction of a new horse, he was no longer on the bottom rung of the ladder. But not for long.

As the horses mingled over the weeks and got to know each other, we noticed this change happening. Sarge would bite or nip us when we were leading him to the front yard to be brushed and saddled. Horses usually don’t do this to people. Especially horses that have been sweet and gentle. He bit Bud on the chest, hard, and left a mark. He also kicked him hard in the leg one other time. This can be a dangerous habit if not fixed. Most lead horses will not kick and bite people. They have good boundaries and respect for humans. Sarge should know those boundaries when it comes to people! So what happened to make him a bully?

My observations: Sarge was a horse, raised totally by a human almost from day one. A sweet human at that. So he was not raised in a herd of horses. He was raised with gentle human hands. There was no hazing, no biting and kicking to say “Hey, you are not above me. Get back! Move away. That’s my hay! Get your own.” Sarge was raised by a very gentle human. His ‘herd’ was himself and his human owner. She showed him no real boundaries nor asked for his respect. Once he was introduced to other horses (mine), they showed him how horses act in a herd. How to find his place, and know who was leader, whose example to follow. Sarge learned from the other horses that it was totally okay to kick, bite, charge, and run after other herd members if you want a shot at being the leader of the pack. It’s how they do it. That’s how life is lived in a herd where someone is seeking domination. This reasoning is sound, but does not explain his behavior toward us. I had more figuring to do, which follows.

I reasoned it this way. Sarge thought we were part of that herd. After all, at his former residence, his herd had a human in it. We must be part of the herd! After we saw this naughty behavior from Sarge, I asked Bud to spend time with him every day, to show where respect can be learned and foster a better relationship between them. His horse did not respect me or Bud. Sarge felt we were simply others in the herd to be tested and bossed around, bit and kicked to put us in our place. This is a dangerous situation and it needed to change pronto. Unfortunately his owner, Bud, was a softie and very afraid of any sort of confrontation, or rocking the boat in any way. This sort of attitude is okay for some things, but not okay for all things in life.

When I was leading Sarge out to be ridden, he took a hold of my hat between his teeth from behind and yanked so hard I almost fell down. I quickly grabbed a lunge whip and ran him around the small pasture until he was tired. Please know in using a lunge whip, it never has to touch the horse. They will run from the noise and physical action. As he was running, he bucked and bucked, which was his “I don’t like it! You are not the boss of me” showing. Good. Let’s get all that pee and vinegar out of him. Finally he tired out.There was no physical harm done, but this horse learned to respect me a little bit more. We had some better boundaries.

It can be dangerous to have a 1000 lb animal not respect you, and kick and bite you. But I didn’t like the feeling that went with having to boss him around. What bothered me was, I had to be a bully to do it! I had to be more assertive than my normal self. I had to walk the walk, talk the talk, and be mean to him for it to sink in. I let him take no quarter, did not give him a break, until he got the lesson. After the lesson I dropped the whip and kissed at him to come to me. He gladly came and put his muzzle in my hand. There was no lead rope, or reins. Just him and me. I had to prove I was higher up than him in the pecking order, but also a kind and gentle leader. I find that being a bully with Sarge works. He respects my loud and brash tone of voice and body language. When a horse is bested, they quickly are obedient and polite again. They have found their new place in the herd. When we walked back to the trailer to get ready for a ride, he was peaceful and polite. But for me, I had to go well outside my comfort zone of making everyone happy. It really pushed me, and I felt like a bully. I didn’t like it, but in this case, it was necessary.

As of the writing of this blog entry, Sarge is now lead horse, and Scar, for the first time in his 24 years, is not. Yet Sarge is learning to be a much more polite and respectful horse to people. He is stretching and learning about being a true leader, not just a bully.

These two scenarios with bullying in nature does not seem to point to any quick, obvious answer. I know for humans bullying is not acceptable. But should it be? In some instances? Are there weaker, smaller people who need to exhibit some bravado to chase off someone else? Does this person need to ‘bully the bully’ if ignoring him doesn’t work? I don’t know. It might if a woman is being followed down a dark street, maybe she has to turn around, face this person and be assertive way outside her comfort zone. That could be a case where bullying and assertiveness comes in handy. That’s why I am writing this. For input and rumination.

In no way am I intending to diminish or not respect those out there who have been the subject of being bullied. But I feel this topic does merit some discussion.

What say you?

The elegant and obvious solution to feeling rushed off your feet.

Last night I had errands to run after a full day at work. These days a full day at work is a bit much to take, but I do my best. My meds for my neuralgia make me feel like I’m going through molasses. Some days I work at home and that helps cut the stress. It cuts out 4 hours of commuting per week, and that is really helping. Every bit counts.

I had groceries to unpack after my long commute home, then picked up the pup from the neighbors. As I get in the door I have a lot to take care of right away. Geese need to be put in their pen, check water and feed. Make sure the door is raccoon proofed. Haul in and put groceries away. Put the clean dishes away that are on the kitchen counter, and do another batch. (I can’t stand having dirty dishes.) I make dinner for my three dogs. At my house it’s the rule that animals are fed before humans. I make sure the Senior and favorite soul dog, Mr. Google, gets his meds, and I take his leg brace off for the night. Only then I can make myself dinner, and finally sit down. At this point I’ve been going since 5:00 am. It’s now 7:30pm.

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In the middle of doing dishes, I hear my favorite dog whine that his dinner is not enough to eat, I blow a gasket….almost. How can I be grumpy at Soul Dog? He’s 84 in dog years (12 in people years) and my favorite of all my animals. We have a deep connection and he rarely asks for anything from me. If he begs, he is in need. I check my anger and frustration at the door, er, rather in mid dishwashing. I can change my behavior so there is not so much stress. Slow down. Now. Yes. Oh, that’s better. Now I’m not spinning way out of sync with the Universal Flow of energy.

Since I started daily meditation, even if it is only 10 minutes per session, something slides into my reptilian brain and tells me to slow down. There is no need whatsoever to feel rushed. Ever. Not while running errands, or bringing home groceries, or feeding dogs, or doing dishes. The buddhist mindset of doing things mindfully, and being fully into whatever it is, finally makes a spark in my brain and neurons fire. I’ve been telling others about this for years, now I’m finally taking my own advice.

“Hey, I don’t have to ‘hurry’ and do dishes, and all these crazy chores, in order to sit down at a later time tonight and relax. I can relax NOW. In this moment. While doing whatever it is I need to do.”

I re-mind myself that being mind-ful, and deliberate in my actions and thoughts is key to not ever feeling rushed or stressed. Going a little slower, helps me to enjoy all my moments. Not just some. I don’t have to rush around like a nuthead and wait till 7:30pm to enjoy my evening. I can do that any time I want to. It was another moment I realized how silly I was being. I was being a human-doing, not a human-being. 😉 My guru’s Pema Chödrön and Eckhart Tolle have been telling me this for years as I read their materials, quotes, and articles.

For years I have read about, and really tried integrating this mindfulness into everyday life. But life has a way of making you rushed and crazy sometimes. At least I feel a little more connected to this way of being. It’s going to take some time for it to really come home to roost. I’m not yet at the point of 24/7 mindfulness or totally unstressed life. But, coming a little closer to it doesn’t suck!

The reason for sharing this in blog form is, I teach people about not stressing out, being mindful, dumping drama and chaos. Yet I also get caught up in it, like everyone else. Even Ghandi and Mother Theresa got caught up in it! We are not perfect—’specially me. 😉 I like to share my human, not-so-perfect side. It’s part of that great ride of this crazy life! Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has a chance to change course.

I would love to hear from you about your experiences, thoughts, and opinions. This blog is meant to be not only educational but part of a community dialogue with other souls. 

Clutter holds energy, let it loose!

Okay, this is not a how-to guide for decluttering your home or environment, although I could certainly write an article about that. I was born to organize and declutter. However for almost two decades, I lived with a man who was a hoarder. At the time, I had no word for it. It started slowly and grew exponentially as our my spouse and the relationship fell out of center. Every room had a path through it that was about two feet wide. Boxes, clothing, computer pieces, camera parts, papers of all kinds and other assorted flotsam filled rooms to bursting. Sometimes up to the ceiling! There was no rhyme or reason to it, and none of the items had any use or value.Boxes-empty_165169310.jpgI could not staunch the flow, no matter what I tried. I could hardly live like this and combatted it daily. It crept under my skin during the day, and practically exploded out of me at night. It was like a thing that lived with us that was evil. But my spouse would have a week long fit, exploding in rage, if I were so rude as to mention ‘the mess.’ He didn’t see it that way and he felt I was nagging and unfair to him. Apparently I was the bad guy in this scenario.

I begged to clean up on the weekends when we had time. He’d oblige, and then ten minutes into it he’d have this ‘great idea’ to go to the hardware store to get materials for building shelves. Shelves for more junk. Shelves to organize the junk. Or 30 large plastic tubs to store all the junk in. To this day I can’t stand the sight of those big blue plastic tubs. We would spend all day at the hardware store, come home, spend ten more minutes on cleaning and quit. Now not only was there a huge mess, but a mess of building materials on top of everything else clogging up one of the few free areas left to me.

When we moved to a small 350 square foot apartment in Manhattan, I thought for sure we’d downsize. He insisted we take everything. In his absence, I threw out as much as possible. When we arrived, it took two full days to unpack the largest moving van money could rent. It all went up inside my tiny, clean, perfect apartment. There were stacks of boxes now that stood almost 11 feet high! Again there were only small paths between them. Almost no place for a bed. Nothing changed most of the nine years we spent there. Needless to say, we rarely had company.

After Manhattan, we moved to New Mexico. Finally we had a piece of property and some room to stretch out! However the home soon filled up with junk. A second building filled up with junk, soon Continue reading

Suffering is optional

When you hold your own mind hostage, It’s like being in prison. It’s a lot of self-imposed suffering. I am guilty of this bad habit. It’s a bit like jumping to conclusions but bigger. It takes a while to dump it and change behavior.

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Case in point: A friend of a friend said their friend went to a family gathering thinking the worst; that no one liked them, that they would be shunned, ignored, that they were disliked. Yet the opposite happened and the opposite was true. They were welcomed with open arms. They were able to catch up with a lot of people they had been estranged from and had totally the wrong information for many many years. The person who was responsible for spreading the dark information about them in the past was now out of the picture. How many years did our hero waste in shame and fear, thinking they were unloved by their own family? Way too many! It simply was not true. They were holding themselves hostage and suffering for it.

All the self deprecating thoughts and low self-esteem—it was all in this person’s head. Our hero was making assumptions that the information being sent around was true, and they were too afraid to reach out and find out what the real story was. The cloud has lifted and it took an in-person visit to see the truth. Years and years of bad energy followed this person around like a cloud for no good reason. The truth was easy to uncover. They were holding themselves hostage in their mind.

Following the advice of Byron Katie would help in this instance. I loved her book, Loving What Is. She asks the reader to ask themselves four questions, to free their mind:

  1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

Another case in point: I was on Facebook looking at my feed. Usually there are videos and those automatically start playing, or at least they used to. The person posting this video had good intentions. They wanted to find the culprit that tortured a dog which was shown on the video. I had to stop the video from playing after only a few seconds or I would throw up. For days I could not get this image out of my head. Once you see something, you can’t ‘unsee’ it. I kept obsessing over it, because I am an animal lover, and my pets are my family. I could not imagine why anyone would do this, and I also could not imagine why someone would post this for any reason. It shook me to my core.

“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”
—Byron Katie

What I kept telling myself when I felt that nausea well up inside was, this event happened a long time ago, and any suffering for the animal was long over. It took days for me to become normal again and shove this awful thing out of my head. I sent love to all concerned. That’s the best I could do. Send love, send love, send love. Be in the moment. Follow the advice of Byron Katie. Follow the advice of Eckhart Tolle and be in the moment. Smell the air. Watch the birds fly overhead. Be grateful for the moment.

What I did wrong was hold myself hostage by having terrible thoughts about the act, and utter disgust for the perpetrator. These feelings did not help anyone. None of my feelings were for the greater good, nor were they positive energy in any way, shape, or form. In addition, I was angry that I had spent any time spinning in negativity. I had no excuse to dwell on something done long ago, that I was helpless to change. I spent my good energy chasing bad.

The lessons in both cases was not to dwell on things you have no control over, and that are in the past. If needed seek the truth. Send love. Move on. Live in the moment.