That damned coconut tree

Over the years I learned to handle drama and chaos as best I can. I teach classes on handling it, because I lived through so much of it and found a way to deal with it. In the years during The Big Change, I was able to piece together a road map for my survival. So far, so good. Life is as good as it can be and I’m a happy camper. But, I didn’t get this way overnight. It took work. It was fun at times, but still took some shifting and tweaking each time I encountered a bit of drama or chaos here and there.

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On being stuck in traffic

A good playground for being totally present and going with the flow in a chaotic situation is in heavy traffic. This was one of my biggest ah-ha moments ever. I had gotten off work early one day. It’s a rare treat to get off work early, so I ran a few errands downtown. I rarely go south of where I work, so a trip to downtown usually is a headache. This was the perfect day for it! After my errands were all run, I wanted to get home quickly. That should be easy at 3pm, right? Wrong! For some reason it was a very early rush hour and this really soured my mood. It takes an hour to get home as it is. How could I be stuck in traffic? It’s a lovely day and I want to be home quickly, enjoying the sunshine and my animals!

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Pay attention to dreams

For many years now I have been keeping track of my dreams. A private online blog is the best way for me to have a journal I won’t lose, and it’s easy to search. Spirit communicates to me mostly through visuals, although I have had experiences of taste, smell, hearing, feeling and knowing. Mostly I am a highly visual person with super detailed dreams.

After you track your dreams for a while, it will become obvious what to pay attention to, and what to dismiss. The disjointed, out of focus, blurry and gray dreams are what I call garbage can dreams. They are an amalgamation of recent events, worries and other flotsam and jetsam floating around in my psyche. The other type of dream for me to not pay much attention to are what I call spaghetti dreams. When I eat pasta, I eat a load of it. Then I have the same type of dream only going warp 10 and a bit more crazy activity. Those are a bit more fun, but just as disjointed.

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Compassionate or doormat?

Being compassionate and being ‘the wounded healer’ and wanting to help others is a good thing to do. But be careful you don’t overdo it in terms of being a doormat. You should never come away from an experience in compassion feeling used, spent, foolish, tired, or drained. And certainly you should never feel you have been taken advantage of.

Several years back, a local I knew and liked came knocking on my door in a rainstorm. Let’s call him The Farrier. I knew, as did everyone in town, he was recently on the outs with his boss/landlord. He had been kicked out of the place he had been staying, and lost his job. He was at rock bottom. I could not turn him away in the rain. Looking back, he had it timed just right, how could a person turn someone away in a downpour? Once I realized he needed more than shelter from this storm, I made it clear, this was to be temporary. I offered him three months stay, as long as he helped himself to get ahead in the world, not just lay around sleeping. He needed to earn his keep in working toward his future. I stressed it was more important that he work toward his future, than do chores around my home.

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Being in authenticity

What exactly does that mean? For me it means being a genuine person, being open, transparent as possible, organic, home-grown, you name it. I believe that it really means being true to yourself. It’s like being an open book to others with no hidden agendas. I think of it as standing in your personal power but doing no harm. To me it is being yourself, as much as you can be. The more you are true to yourself, the more people will see, feel, and sense your authenticity.

“This above all, to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” —From Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

The above quote from Hamlet is something that often comes to mind when someone is looking for advice on what to do and they are inwardly conflicted or really torn about something and they have to make a decision. If you take the advice and are true to yourself, most everything else falls into place. Take care of yourself first, then others can be served.

This is also a really big hint to the fine line between being compassionate and being a doormat for the world. Continue reading

Where compassion is born

When I hear someone is having a hard time with life, miserable, or suffering through a painful experience, I also experience pain at the empathy level. I can almost feel it, viscerally, inside my body, emotionally, and mentally. How did this happen? How was I softened? I can tell you, when it was time to end a relationship that was over 18 years long, it was difficult. I held on to the bitter end. It was me being foolishly loyal to someone who did not have my best interest at heart. It felt like torture to be in this relationship every day. I seemed to do something wrong, not make my partner happy, and no matter how hard I tried, I was made to feel that everything was naturally my fault and I failed at every attempt to ‘fix’ things.

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Coping patterns

“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. Their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” —Don Miguel Ruiz

For many years after traumatic, chaotic, emotionally and mentally abusive events occur, your body goes through the motions of post-traumatic effects. Your body and you create what I call coping patterns. My brain tells me the daily abuse is over and I am healed, but my body doesn’t care where the attacks come from. All it know is it is time to ride out the storm for a few days if something happens that is not part of a normal day. Even one person, or a group of people in a meeting talking over me loudly ignoring what I have to say, will set off an episode of what I call hunkering down. These are big triggers for me. Your body has a way of remembering how you got through the abuse. It gets tired, slowing you down, making you sleep a lot. Maybe you eat your way to comfort, or drink yourself to sleep. You cocoon. You repair. You sleep.

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The long exhale

The two years of unwinding on all levels after my divorce was a period I refer to as The Long Exhale. Being in a poisonous, dramatic, very chaotic environment for 18 years did some major damage. I recall the first day after my husband was kicked off the property by the police and the divorce was proceeding. I knew there was a huge shit storm coming my way, because he was a supreme manipulator and a huge drama queen. He hated being challenged or bested and he was the ‘never give up’ kind of guy. I was in for the ride of my life, but I knew divorce was at hand. My life depended on it. The first day back at the property after I had just arrived home from work, I got out of the car, was greeted by my animals and heard myself say out loud “I’m going to be just fine!” I don’t even know what part of me said that! But it was nice to hear. I was a very happy camper to finally be out of that nightmare. I was now the captain of my own ship!

During the time of The Big Change, I dropped so much of my old life by the wayside. Dropped bad habits, old outdated ideas. I got my self confidence back bit by bit. The support came from many places: friends, Buddhist lectures, work and co-workers, taking up a life with horses, etc. Help manifested itself in so many ways. I had much to dump, much to relearn and so much to explore. It was like shedding an old skin that no longer suited me and being totally reborn, from head to toe. But it took a long time for this to happen. This sort of deep change comes slowly. But is well worth it.

The single life suits me very well and I never in my life thought I would be totally content and happy being single. My new life is very different than my old life, and all of it is by my own design. Things I want in my life are there, or coming into being. Things I don’t want have been tossed out, abandoned or given the heave-ho. In order to get to this new life, it took a lot of work, exploring, research and guts that I didn’t know I had. I would never trade this new life for anything else on the planet. But it took a lot of work to get to this point, this new level of living co-creatively.

If you have been through a rough patch, regardless of the length of time you were in it, please give yourself time to heal, adjust, renew, replenish, explore, test, and invent your new life. You have an opportunity to reinvent yourself. This will be a great time of growth. Give yourself and your body a huge break from being perfect or meeting anyone else’s expectations, especially your own. You may need a long exhale too.

Personal power and those ruby slippers

Looking back on my very difficult, abusive marriage, I realize I always had a choice. I could have left the instant my instincts said this was a bad pairing, a bad marriage, a very bad experience. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz story, she found out about the magical powers of her shoes late into her journey. Many people would have been angry at finding out so late, that they had the power to fix things all along. But Dorothy had no regret in the difficult, mysterious, scary path she had taken that seemed out of her control. 

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She had a fantastic journey and met many friends along the way. Had she chosen to use the power of her magical ruby slippers sooner, she would never have found her voice and her own personal power. Without this difficult journey, she would not be the same person she was by the end of the movie.

I felt the same was true with my situation. Even though my marriage and split was hard and seemed out of my control, was full of pitfalls, daily emotional and mental drama, and frustration at every turn, it made me stronger and is still giving me insights. Through this baptism by fire, I found my voice and my personal power, and no one can take that from me, ever again. (Cue the happy ending music!)

The most life-changing insight of all was that I always had a choice. As hard and painful as the path had been to get to this insight, I was happy to be where I was at once I was on the other side of all the drama and chaos. I have no regrets about the past, nor do I feel I ‘wasted’ my time, as some people say about a failed marriage. It was the path leading to my own personal freedom and power, that taught me to be a compassionate person toward others. I would not give it up for anything! It was hard won and now I own it. I am fully in charge of my life, co-creating my future, compassionately, lovingly. Our paths have many joys and many pitfalls. All experiences are for our highest good, even though at the time, we may not think so. 

What is co-creating?

I don’t remember when I first heard that term, but I was not sure I understood exactly what co-creating meant. So, take off the cowgirl hat and put on the detective hat. It started with my first basic observation that everything is energy.

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We live in, and are part of something I call Universal Flow. Once I was more in tune with this flow, I learned to recognize intuition, how it manifests, and how to use it. By using my intuition through paying attention to how it manifested in my body, using the Law of Attraction, and asking for and receiving guidance from Spirit, I started consciously co-creating. I developed my skills with routine, everyday tasks to build on my experience. Now it’s as easy as breathing.  Continue reading