Kintsugi and repairing painful experiences

Kintsugi “golden joinery”, also known as Kintsukuroi “golden repair”, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. Highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage. Kintsugi can relate to the Japanese philosophy of “no mind” which encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life. (From Wikipedia.)

When I lost my horse Silver, I experienced an act of kindness I will never forget. When my horse lay on the ground close to death, a friend and experienced horsewoman had me sit at his head and take each thumb and gently stroke inside his ears at the tips. She said “This will feel good to him, it’s a pressure point, and it will help calm you down as well. We have done all that is possible, so just let everything go and sit with your horse.” I am glad I did, because I didn’t realize I would not see him again. I thanked him for the wonderful years together, the glorious fast rides out in the desert, and his goofy demeanor and friendship. I am forever indebted to the wisdom of my friend Kristin. This act of kindness was a knitting together of the broken pieces that were already coming apart. I did not know it then.

Regarding Kintsugi: “Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identification with, [things] outside oneself.”  — Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics

With Kintsugi, the damage is part of the story of the piece and is not hidden or swept under the rug. Kintsugi makes the piece whole, new, and beautiful. In terms of healing a heart it makes the trauma part of your story but it is a healed trauma. It is a new part of you and your story. Sitting with my horse as he lay close to death was hard, but it was the art of Kintsugi, making a repair, and pulling together the old pieces to make a new whole.

If you have pieces of your life’s experience that feel broken or damaged, think of the art of Kintsugi, and how those experiences make up part of who you are. They are part of a whole that makes up everything you currently are. Don’t dismiss them, and don’t embrace the damage itself as all you are either. It is part of a larger whole. In time, bad circumstances and negative events will become clearer to you. Think of the art of Kintsugi and perhaps the pain of past events will make more sense to you than they did at the time those events happened to you.

As Jim Carey said at his commencement speech at Maharishi University of Management…

“Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.”

Comments and dialogue are encouraged and welcome. Likes tell me someone is listening. Love and Light, Patty.

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.

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.

duotone Google.png

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. 

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.



Why do lessons repeat?

Someone recently asked me why some lessons seem to repeat. The best way for me to explain why lessons keep coming up is to look to my personal experience in the trenches. My years before The Long Exhale were spent in the most demeaning and abusive relationship. It was so bad I thought I’d die, or worse, have to keep living that life. It was a hard knot to untangle. I felt certain lessons come up, so clearly in my face during those 18 years. I could not for the life of me figure out why they kept coming up, until I was out of it. Then it was easy to see why I had been banging my head against the same wall. Perhaps my story might help others.


Why were these lessons repeating? Didn’t I solve everything last time? Didn’t I apologize enough? Didn’t I make enough changes at my core to make this relationship work? How was I still not making him happy? Didn’t I humble myself enough? Didn’t I do enough? I was always the one with the job, bringing money home. He spent it before I could make it until we were bankrupt. I worked my butt off at a job, spent two hours a day commuting, I made a house a home, made dinner, did all the cleaning. He was a hoarder, a word I didn’t even know at the time. I had to clean around the filth and the ceiling high pile of boxes and crap.

During 18 years, he was fired from more than 30 jobs. I was made to scour newspapers to find jobs so I could send his resumes out for him, while he sat home, never even getting out of bed. Anything creative I did was first met with compliments, but minutes later he’d complain that I should drop my creative pursuits and work on the relationship.I had no idea what he meant by that, because I was already doing everything I could think of to make him happy. He was jealous of any progress I made in any avenue of my life.

Sometimes he’d have a fit and I had to have a plan written out to ‘move the relationship forward.’ He would critique this plan the next evening. If it did not meet with his approval, I was in for a week-long shit storm. I recall once apologizing to the point I was crying and he would look at me with disgust and tell me that my apology sucked and please try again or else. I don’t think I ever felt lower in my life.

He told me my opinion and my memories were wrong and his were right. Over time he would alienate all our friends. He hated to be the one who was left behind, so he purposely sabotaged all relationships, each lasting about 18 months. He’d make me feel either totally wrong or totally invisible. Couldn’t he see how hard I was working to repair things? Couldn’t he see I loved him and I cared deeply for him? Yet he would tell me our relationship was like being on a bicycle built for two, and he was at the front peddling like mad and I was behind, not doing a thing. When I came out of this relationship I realized it was actually the reverse. But I could not see it then. I felt like I had been on this karmic treadmill for years and it was feeling very surreal, with crushing exhaustion in this never ending cycle. I wanted out so badly but I had no concept of how to do that, so I stayed as long as I could to make things work, while almost killing myself in the process.

Why didn’t I see that this was not a good relationship for me? Well I did see it, but I kept thinking it was fixable and I was in denial. I was in love with this guy, loyal, and not wanting a huge painful thing like a divorce to happen to us. Fear stopped me from divorcing many times. Those lessons repeated over and over to the point where the same exact thing would happen, the same fear would come up in me that I was not doing things right. Continue reading

Do you really want to sweep that under the rug?

So you’ve had a blowout with someone in your life. This someone is very important to you, they may be your spouse, your live-in mate, a really good friend, or someone at work. You have been dealt a blow, and you feel very strongly about it. Perhaps trust has been violated. This is a basic foundation for any relationship. Maybe someone does not believe what you did or did not do. I’ve seen these two things happen to people close to me. They both handled it very differently, in their own way.

Some handle it with great emotions and a lot of drama because they feel slighted. Then they moved on feeling differently toward the person that slighted them. Some handle it by sweeping it under the rug, waiting for just the right moment to say something. “Oh, can’t do it today we are having dinner with friends. I can’t do it tomorrow, my spouse has a job interview and they have to be on their best behavior. Best to not rock the boat. The day after that is Saturday and I have worked hard this week, another argument is not what I want. Better put it off till next week. That feels better.”


Putting it off over and over and over. Not good. Those are just excuses to not get into the fray again. Kinda can’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid high drama. But avoidance is not good for really important things like a violation of trust. Those should be handled at some point, sooner rather than later. Sweeping anything under the rug means sooner or later the rug will be so full of crap that it will lift off the floor. All these little things add up. Sooner or later you have to deal with all that crap. Better to deal with it as soon as it seems prudent, with calmer emotions.

One thing I learned from a long-term relationship is what I call the three day rule. Any time we had a blowout, a disagreement, or not seeing eye-to-eye, letting it sit for three days seems to work wonders. It’s really hard to be angry at anyone or anything for three straight days. Anger takes a shitload of energy and no one on the planet has that much energy in their reserves. What helps is getting back to a normal routine. Routine puts humans in their comfort zone. Three days is also not enough time to have forgotten what was so important that pissed everyone off. Take three days off with the agreement to discuss it on the third day. That puts the responsibility back into the picture. Yes we pissed each other off, and yes we have agreed to discuss it when tempers are dormant and we feel more centered. Great! So far so good.

Finding the right time on the day you revisit this is easy. Pick the time you are both up, freshly awake. If at all possible do it first thing in the morning. Get up earlier than normal if you have to both be at work. If a relationship is at stake, it’s worth the extra effort. Have a cup of coffee so your brain starts percolating and turn off your phones and put them down for the entire meeting.

Discuss timing briefly the day before. “Hey let’s revisit that thing tomorrow morning over coffee. Does that sound like a good time? Let’s set aside an hour where nothing is going to interrupt us and where we are devoted to solving this, because I really want to resolve this thing that’s between us.”  Even practicing your speech to ask your mate/friend when a good time to talk is important so it comes out right. Practice makes perfect and helps your confidence. If it’s a co-worker or other situation, do lunch.

You are sitting over coffee waking up. You both have decided to be here, uninterrupted to patch up this relationship before it gets worse. I would urge you to keep these guidelines in mind any time you have a discussion:

  • Turn off your cell phone, the radio, the tv. All of it. For the entire time you are talking. This should be non-negotiable and doable.
  • Do not bring up the past unless it is the thing that upset you. As in, don’t bring up something from last month, last year, and how you hate how they put a new roll of toilet paper on the thingy the wrong way and how they hate your mother’s hairdo. Yeah, that’s a no no. Keep the discussion moving along and focused.
  • If the other person keeps avoiding the important stuff and can’t stay on target, bring them back, gently, as often as necessary. If they say, “Hey did you see that red bike the other day I pointed out? That’s the cool new Red Racer model and I really want to save money for it and…blah blah blah.” There goes the focus and the discussion out the window. Help the other person gently back to the discussion. You might say, “Hey yeah, that bike is great, but I would rather talk about this issue we have. It’s much more important than a bike. We can talk about the bike or even go see it, once we are done. Now back to the issue at hand.”  Do this as often as you have to.
  • Try and keep an even tone to your voice. Certainly don’t raise your voice.
  • You can ask for divine intervention or guidance through the meeting. Nothing wrong with a little backup from friends in a lofty position.
  • Keep yourself protected energetically so you don’t get hooked by high emotional drama. I use the tool called being the space for and have a loving intent for starters.
  • Listen when the other person is talking, and ask them for the same courtesy. This can be hard, but good communication has three points: your mouth and your two ears. Your ears and listening are as important as talking and telling your story. If your friend/spouse/mate is not listening to you and just rambling on, let them know you’d like them to listen to you. It’s important for closure.
  • If that doesn’t work, look up the idea of a talking stick. He who holds the stick speaks, the rest listen. When one person finishes speaking, pass the stick to the next person. It goes round the table till all the talking is done and everyone is satisfied. Let’s hope you don’t have to get to that point.
  • Be open minded, and ready to compromise if you feel it’s right for the situation. But also stand your ground if something very basic and necessary like trust or fidelity is at stake. You know in your heart those very basic tenants that make up any relationship. And you know you should never accept less than is necessary to have a balanced, honest relationship.
  • Expect what you need as a bottom line for your relationship. If you don’t get it, maybe it’s time to move on. (Fidelity, trust, etc. We’re talking the big stuff here.)
  • Choose your battles wisely. Don’t go on and on about something small. Compromise and it’s okay to give in a little for lesser items. But….
  • You should never end a discussion feeling that you have given in too much, just to make peace. It is not worth it. Make sure the compromises are real and attainable.

Going forward, make sure all the rugs in your home have nothing swept under them (figuratively). Shake them out regularly and ‘clean house’ and be confident that later on you won’t trip over an old issue hiding under that rug! Believe me, nothing is better than clearing the air and forging ahead with the confidence that nothing is going unsaid, or lurking in the shadows. Be confident you are on solid ground. Live in the light and shake out those rugs!

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.

When you are dealing with chaos or drama, think of surfing. Learning to surf the waves, the ups and downs of life, can be hard at first. If you wipe out a lot, it sucks. Then with experience you don’t wipe out so often, you become stronger. Your muscles acclimate to this activity, and you actually have fun even if you are paddling out to sea to catch waves, or coming in after a good afternoon out. Your life will be better learning to handle drama and chaos—the ups and downs. The reality is, no one can totally get rid of drama and chaos from their lives. It will try and seek you out, no matter where you go. Be prepared. Know you can handle it and not get hooked. Be the space for anything playing out before you. Calm your inner vibe, go with the flow, etc. The more you practice, the less hooked you will get. You get the picture.

What I advise people is, if you try and totally avoid drama, it will find you. Let’s say you are sick and tired of all the drama and you want to opt out of it. Yes,  you can learn how to deal with it, but if you want to not be bothered by anyone and never have any more drama, I’m telling you, the Universe will send stuff your way. You can’t run and hide from it. You may need to learn more about how the inner you handles life, so lessons come your way compliments of The Universe. Life in general can be chaotic and dramatic, because, well, human beings are involved.

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Just for fun, let’s say you are on a deserted island all by yourself, happy as can be and you don’t want to be bothered. You are determined to be left alone, not wanting any more drama or chaos. There is a coconut tree on the island. Just you and that tree. For sure the coconut tree will start giving you shit, just to keep you in the game. It will start dropping coconuts on your head. It will move if you want to be in the shade. It will somehow end up being a source of grief for you. That’s how life is. Expect it. And I don’t mean in any sort of fatalistic way at all. I mean in a way that has you happily prepared to deal with whatever life throws you. Because there are ups and downs to all things in life. It’s a rhythm. Yin Yang, good bad, off on, light dark, happy sad. This advice is for people that believe if they live alone, don’t go out much, and don’t bother anyone, they will have this get out of jail free card for drama and chaos. Not so. Things happen. Learn to deal with it in a better way. Learn to surf. You will be better for it. You will have less stress, less angst, and feel freer and happier as you ride out life’s low spots.

When ‘shit happens’ I vow to get better at not getting hooked, at standing aside, at being the space for, and letting the drama play out without me involved as much as possible. It’s an art form. But since I’m human, I don’t always behave the way I’d like to. I never plan on doing badly, but sometimes I get caught up in things despite my best efforts. So when I get hooked, it’s humbling, but I remind myself I have to get better at handling that damned coconut tree. Piña colada anyone?