When the fuel tank is low

What do you do when your fuel tank is on empty? Although I want to say women, I know this syndrome is not gender bias anymore. There are many men as well as most women who give until there is nothing left. Mine has been on E for a while. I was not taught in my past life to consider the option of really taking care of me first, in order to have the strength to help others. I found resources that have guided me to the fuel tanks and have shown me how to replenish my reserves. It not something I do without great thought because the guilt, if I allow it, can push me to not do it. So I thought I would jot down some of the ways I recharge and maybe, kind reader, you will share your thoughts.
My number one fuel source is water. In it, on it or near it. I live very near to a huge lake, and the pull is very strong. So strong, my husband knows that when I am low, he takes me to the lake and I will recharge. I have to learn to go on my own, and walk the pier, or dangle my feet in the waves. My number one recharge spot is the St. Lawrence River. I connected with that water the first time I saw it many years ago. Sometimes her power is so strong, there is almost fear of allowing myself to give completely to her. The trip to the River is arduous in the winter. We only journey after the weather breaks because you can go up in sun and come home in a blizzard. One day I hope to live on the River and completely earn the title River Rat.
My next recharge spot is my garden. I love nature, and as trite as that sounds, it is true. I can sit in a forest and be perfectly calm and connected. I have been that way my whole life. Green is good and Mother is a connector for me. I am making myself sit in my newly redone backyard in my new chairs. This is a totally hedonistic activity which only makes me a human. I am learning that this recharge gives me the strength to complete my day and give thanks for all that happened. I have an abundance of birds and small animals that visit, and my dog helps by keeping me safe from tyrannical squirrels. It is true bliss.
I realized last night that I need to find resources to sustain me when I am unable to get to my fueling resources. I have to either find them internally or work on my winter environment. I love projects. One year I filled the back bedroom with my annuals because I could not stand to let them die. It was not a great idea as they were supposed to go and the only thing that survived was the spiders and bugs I brought in with them. I was trying to thwart Mother. Does not work.
I am glad that I can now comprehend that taking care of me is not selfish. We all need time to be at peace and recharge. That is part of the big picture. Besides, when you are zooming at 90 miles an hour, the burn out is faster and more critical. I am getting it down to a comfortable 40 mph with more respites at scenic views.

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The Analogy of the Garden

There has been a lot of transformation happening in my life recently. Many of you, who know me personally, know my garden is my refuge and have shared moments of peace in my backyard. This year, it became apparent that the structures that were out there were rotten, their foundations were crumbling, and there was a need for some major work. I have written before to a friend the analogy of this work, comparing it to what has been going on in my personal journey. The metaphors as too ostensive for me not to share.

garden 1-30-13

The area where sat the pool was something I never really used. I had opened the pool once, and then closed it forever. It slowly rotted. There was a protective structure which housed a deck and a seating area. This too was rotting although it was not apparent with the casual glance. It required one to dig in deep to find the decay. The foundations were weak. Much like what was happening with my body, I was starting to crumble. My psoriatic arthritis is not apparent. The progression was out of my control, much like what the weather was doing to the wood. It too was protected with sealant, but was rotting from within.
So in January, we had it all taken down. It left a gaping cavity in the yard which was temporarily filled with debris. I too had opened many portals to my history, also leaving huge holes with little value to fill them with. The mud was exposed after the snow melted and sitting and viewing the yard was not a pleasant experience. No one came to visit, not even the birds and animals normally present. It seemed like forever before the first rays from the sun cast their light in the garden.

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Now the new garden has been created. There are areas for quiet reflection nestled in the greenery. The analogy continues as the grass has been seeded. I too have been seeded with hope to become strong enough to hold on to the soil. The seeds are covered to protect their fragile exposure much like the comfort and teaching provided from my guides. The straw is light and porous allowing the natural energy of the seed to propel its growth and yet grounding the seedlings until their roots are strong enough. There are new plants alongside plants that have always been there, transplanted to have more exposed to the healing powers of the sun. The animals and birds have returned finding the environment to be safe once again.
The landscape foundation is there. It will not remain stagnant but will blossom with constant change as growth occurs. It would be naïve to think that there won’t be mud for a while. Dark clouds will pass over relinquishing their soothing rain which allowed will only feed the evolution. Patience is the tool needed for both my garden and myself to implement success.
So as I plant three new rose bushes today, I will give thanks for those who have stayed the course with me, old and new. If I prick my finger on a thorn or two, I will bleed. But there will be healing as these wounds are superficial and temporary. Know that the rose is my favorite and I honor each of you, as the splendor of the bloom is yours and I thank you. I cannot wait to share my garden and help others to plant theirs.

btr garden 4-27-13

Weighing in

This has been weighing heavily on my mind. Being overweight. Not a brilliant topic and one that makes many uncomfortable. I think it is one of the last bastions of hatred and discrimination as it is totally acceptable to harbor animosity towards someone based on their shape. The most enlightened will say they do not see it as a fault, that acceptance has nothing to do with shape. However, they move on with their well-intentioned lectures of how to be healthy which always includes diet and exercises. In those words, I hear judgment and see pointed fingers. It is not their fault, but it is my reaction of multiple years of not being, and I used the societal measurement, normal weight.
We have done such harm in the arena of self-esteem for children who grow up and are not skinny. When I went to grammar school, the kids all seemed bigger than they are now in general. There were a few of us who rocked the scales above the norm, but I do not remember the bullying tactics of today being employed then. I tipped the scales, but I also was taller than most and by the age of twelve had a woman’s body. The only harassment I remember was from my parents and family and that was more than enough. But in my relationships with peers, it was not an issue. How strange that I remember that I was accepted back then. I was even pursued by arduous young males. I think it was because I did not see what my parents were so focused on and so I did not live their vision. I played sports, rode bikes, swam like a fish and did all the normal activities of a young woman of lesser size.
When I was in my twenties, I lost of lot of weight. I did it under the watchful eye of a doctor who prescribed the current weight lost product. It was pure speed and legal. The body shrank down to what was just a mirage because as fast as I took the weight off, it came back and with vengeance. But again, it did not stop me from being very physical. I hiked mountains, swam and gardened. I added a new passion of playing tennis.
I grew to love this sport and played at minimum, two times a week. I was good. My favorite thing was to come out in my total fat girl look of baggie shorts and floppy shirts and begin warm up. I would miss as many returns as I got and would look totally incompetent. My teammates knew my drill. This was setting up my prey. As the opponent danced in their matching whites, short skirts cresting their firm tanned thighs, I would begin to devour them. My ability to place the ball was uncanny and the tennis instructor was one who fell for my tricks in an early practice session. He gained new respect when a bullet ball I served went whizzing between his legs, making him totally pay attention to me. One time he tested me by setting up a series of pyramid stacked tennis balls and asked me to “try and hit them.” I got every stack and on the last shot, removed only the top ball leaving the rest of the stack intact. We became buddies after that.
The reason I am talking about this and why I realized being fat is an issue for me now is because something changed. My vision of me changed. I NEVER saw myself as being fat and if I did, it was only from the reflection of others. I remember being crestfallen at cruel comments that were aimed at me, their target often being my self-esteem. But in my heart, I did not see the reasons for their loathing. It always shocked me and humiliated me to my core, because I never expected it. I would go into a situation with the innocence of a child who knew nothing of their faults. Slowly through time, their words and disgust would penetrate my walls of protection leaving a toxin flowing in my veins. But I have removed most of this protection, and so the flow has spilled out.
I remember when this realization happened in my recent journey. I was reading a book by Kent Nerburn called Neither Wolf or Dog. The author and the old Lakota are sitting on top of a hill for hours, the old chief gazing into the field below. He asks the young Caucasian author what he sees and the reply was grass and only grass. Then as if magick, a large buffalo appears but had been always been standing there. He becomes visible as it is explained only because the buffalo willed you to see him. I remember crying because I so understood the magick.
Most of my life, I have been able to will people to not see me as being a fat woman. It is because I did not accept that as my definition of who I was. There were horrible moments when it was smashed in my face and I had to pay attention. The result was always hurt and despair, but up would go the walls and I would move on. Most of friends have never equated me the girth of my being. But because of this experience of coming into touch with who I am, this now has become a huge, no pun intended, impediment to my healing. I am raw with the vestiges of the scars left by the well intentioned. The bruises to my core are dark and deep. And it is all because I turned in the field.
I have been struggling with my attempts with a serious focus on weight loss in the past four months, only to achieve not impressive results. I have seen certified nutritionists and doctors and they are stumped. They look at me with skepticism and add to my faults that I lie. I do not lie, it is just not something I can successfully do and never could. Unless you have lived this world, there is no comprehension of the resulting demeaning of the soul and condescending advice the well intentioned deliver as if you have no clue to your predicament. The desire to lose weight has little to do with appearance but more for my health and mobility, or I should say lack of mobility. I have severe psoriatic arthritis and my desire is to get off the medication prescribed because it is more toxic than the disease. I am weaning myself off, but the results are pockets of pain at times where my joints are on fire. The trick with this disease is if you are still, you are fine. Movement causes flares so exercise is counterproductive. I walk with my friend at lunch and our brief sojourns result in me returning to my desk and watching my ankle swell with inflammation.
Be that as it is, I need to move. I long to move. It is not laziness that has caused my current predicament. It is vision. My vision. I am the buffalo that has turned in the mirror. I see what others have always seen and I am locked on that vision. I think now this may be why I cannot lose weight as easily as I have before even without drugs. I held a vision of another body, but that vision is gone. This is what I am going to try; create a new vision. It will be hard because the voices in my head have been so loud on this topic. I will have to push over the pain in my joints and my fear of creating more pain and move. But I will try to create the image of success in my head. It won’t be everyone else’s vision, it will be mine and it will be strong enough to withstand the weak minded who cannot see my beauty as it is.

A Warrior’s tale

This is a story that has been building in my head and it is finally time to share it. I do not remember where I read the premise for it because it was over ten years ago. My not-then husband and I were struggling, trying to make ends meet and getting used to each other. We were both back in college and working multiple jobs . My life was a whirling mess and I could not have been happier. I had a purpose, we had goals.
But now it is time to tell this story as this story is mine and of the present moment.

There was a village that when a young person became of age, they had to prove themselves worthy to be called a warrior. There were choices and with all choices, there were consequences. The fledgling could elect not to take the test but was destined to toil in the fields for the rest of their lives. It was honest work and so there was no real shame. The ones who chose to take the test had to face a tranquil pond, jump in and survive. If you survived, you would become a great warrior, but you would be sworn to secrecy as to your survival of the test. The truth was known that not many survived. The pond swallowed more than it spit out.
One day, a woman came forth to change her circumstances and decided it was time to prove her worthiness. The Great Spirit did not care about gender or age. It did not care at all about the vessel carrying the warrior heart. The Spirit just wants the heart to beat and spread its great ability to love across the nation. But the heart must be true for the act of survival to occur.
She began her studies as there were many lessons taught by scholarly guides. The student had to listen. She needed to quiet her own mind, shut off her own story and listen to the truth. It was hard work which required devotion and prayer. The student had to build strength by becoming aware. The eyes had to acquire vision as powerful as the Hawk. The ears had to listen to the voice from inside and silence the nonsense.
It was an arduous journey.
The pond is not a large body of water, but very deep and the surface was as smooth as glass. The woman of hope and desperation made the mighty leap. A few minutes later, after no sign of her, she popped up downstream a few feet away. She was battered and bleeding. She rose from the water, and smiled for she knows she is a true Warrior.
The woman turns towards the sky and asks that the Great Spirit to allow her to share her story in order to heal others and help guide them to become their own warrior. The Great Spirit agreed.
The story is that at the bottom of the pond there is a swirling vortex of water that pushes the victim to a place where two rocks almost touch. There is barely enough room for anything to pass. Most victims fight the current and are swallowed in the futility of the fight. They drown. But if the victim relaxes and goes with the flow they will enter between the two rocks. And by exhaling their breath, they will be permitted to pass and emerge downstream.
When her turn came, the woman took a breath, jumped in and at the rocks she relaxed and exhaled all the poisons and toxins in her breath, and she passed through. There were many bumps and rocks  as she finished her journey but she survived.
How do I know?

I am that Warrior.

 

 

Why I cry at sunset.

sunset
I often react to the closing of the day and the brilliance of the sunset. I thought it was just because of a personal reaction to something that happened in my past. It has always been a time of deep reflection that was instilled since I was very young. I will go to the water when I can and sit as the sun slowly slides in to the liquid blanket at the water’s edge. There is a moment when I will hold my breath as if in expectation of something miraculous. But with the resting of the orb comes the true meaning of the sunset. The sky will turn to fire orange and flames. It is the voice of the Creator saying “I am upset and in pain with the damage and poisons you have created during the day.” It is the anger of Mother, who only asked that you honor her with love and care for her soul. It is a reflection of the wrath that the water responds with in its inability to protect itself from the flow of toxins into her body.
But then the sky turns to pale pinks and vermeil blues. The air softens, and slight breeze will blow as if to say all is forgiven and we shall start anew tomorrow.
I am like the sunset. It is why I cry.
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photos by JDemeis @2013

Charting a purpose

Purpose! Why are you here? I do not have a clear purpose, not something defined clearly and succinctly. This challenge to create this map kept me awake last night. It is very easy to define my desires and also what I do not want for myself. But in my most current lessons, I realized as I read that I do not have a solidly formed purpose; defined and charted with goals to achieve a specific outcome. It was a rude awakening and I need to build this construct in order to continue on my journey.
One goal I have always had is not to get defeated when I am rejected. I do not want to hurt anymore when I reach out and I am ignored. I do not want that pit in my gut that says something is wrong, I have failed. It takes every inch of strength to overcome this insecurity and fear to become assertive and self-assured. It feels like people see through me as there is no substance to my being. I am easily dismissed. It is a horrible feeling. I have a lousy foundation that is often shaken with the slightest breeze.
This journey I have been on has resulted in taking down my past walls of protection. Their false sense of strength bolstered me when I was at my weakest. I am very vulnerable right now. At times the exposure is too great, like this morning. I want to escape and tell the world to continue on without me. The cost is too high; my fuel tank is on empty.
I have spent the last months trying to insert myself in other people’s plans only to be turned away. I understand completely in my cognitive reasoning, but my heart is tender. I do not fit into the direction even for the place where I am employed and thought I would have a big impact. The sense of being cast out and set adrift has taken its toll.
I cannot change the way people are. I can change the way I feel about what they do. I do not have to accept it. But I struggle with this because I am always amazed at the insensitivity of others. Some see me as weak and a target and I have allowed this, I know. I have never comprehended the perverse pleasure some get from belittling and destroying others. And yet, I was born and lived within that environment for most of my life. You would think I would have obtained some savvy in dealing with people. But alas, every new relationship I enter into I go with an open heart and hope. I will not change that because I think everyone deserves a chance. What I need to learn are tools to forgive, forget and move on. But here is the truth: I can forgive others and have often. I do not easily forgive myself. I do not forget my failures. My failures are like thorns that have been embedded in my skin and only hurt when I move.
It is a mission of mine to see that others do not suffer from feeling unworthy. I am a champion for the underdog. I see past what others may qualify as a deficit. I can also do this readily for others.
I struggle with this for myself.
The pathetic reason for that is I still believe that I am unworthy. I am not sure how to fix this.

Lost at Sea

I am aboard the ship Whines-Too-Much heading out on the Sea of Self-Pity. There is a storm brewing and I can see the dark clouds looming on the horizon. I was headed for the Land of Worthiness when the wind died. I somehow ran aground producing a hole in my hull. The fragile boards splintered and now the gap is widening allowing the saltwater to flow. My crew boarded the life boats and abandoned ship, headed for their own destinations. My GPS is jammed; there is no radio signal for guidance.
Life is a series of waves, some smooth and comforting, others brutal and crushing. Storms are as natural as the sunshine. I need to weather them better and rely on the tools I do have, believing in their own power to guide me back to safety. I need to stop allowing Fear to be at the helm, as it has been the captain for too long.
I need to turn my face to the last place I remember the wind and wait for its soft caress to gently cross my bow. I need to tether myself for security knowing that the storm may come, but it too shall pass.
And I can travel on.

Tastes like chicken

I am in a state of confusion and the thing that popped into my head was an image someone sent me of the different personalities of dogs and how they reflect human traits. It has been buzzing in my head for a while. It is a message that is mirroring some of my current feelings, so I thought I would look deeper. I am not talking about the way a dog looks, but our interpretation of how they think. In truth, I think the only thing they think about when they look at us is: “I wonder if she tastes like chicken?”
My dog is now slow in his movements, deliberate in his step. Unless it is a squirrel and then he races after them with true abandonment. He has always been a proud dog but not to the point of aloofness like some animals. He is regal in his stature. But not too majestic that in his youth he would roll on his back and plead for belly rubs. He has the wisdom of the aged, as he is 95 plus in human years.
I do not act like my dog most of the time. He is fearless when he needs to be and cautious with new people. I am not like that in anyway. I plunge head first into new situations and relationships without any caution and then spend way too much time with my fear of rejection. He will know instinctly when he needs to bark his authority of a situation and in greeting of someone not properly introduced. Even after he has met someone, he will check them out for a change in their reasons for a visit for a period of time. I love when he decides someone is in his confidence as his greeting goes from one of caution and warning to one of total adoration. No one gets through the door without first having to pay a toll to him of lavish petting and squealing his name in joy. It is a ritual. Often, I wonder who people really come to visit as I stand there waiting.
He has always known when someone was a person of honor, even when I could not. His selection of people who I have had in my life has stood the test of time of who was honest and true. I wish I had that ability. He has his “you’re ok, but I have my eye on you,” way with some and then he has his the total fall over “your mine” with a very select group. He has many Aunties and Uncles who know his expectations and never fail to honor him as they should.
If I ever doubted his selection process, he proved his abilities a while ago. I was having some work done in my backyard. I heard a muffle plea emanating from someone and I went out to see what it was. There was my dog on top on this gentleman, who was on his back, face to face with 107 pounds of “you’re not going anywhere” dog. My dog was not growling nor had his teeth bared. He just was prohibiting this person entry. And true to his judgment, the work was shoddy and so was the company doing the job.
I wish I had my dog’s sense of evaluation. It would have saved me from some disastrous situations. But I never learn and I think it is because I always look for the good in those I meet. My naivety is often a handicap. Some people can smell a victim and proceed to slowly devour, leaving the remaining carcass without any remorse. I am more aware of this type of relationship, but still enter into a state of blind trust in hopes that I can altruistically find their goodness. I often end up the carcass still.
But at least I know I can always trust and have blind faith in my dog’s love. That is my blessing as long as he never tries to prove the tastes like chicken question.

The Street named Hope

“When you find yourself in unfamiliar seas:
Keep a look out for shore birds to navigate by but, as you get close to the island watch for reefs, keep your nose pointed towards the cut and stay positive. If you run aground, slow down, look around, make a plan, plug the hole and look for a better way.”
– John Borden, 2013

I feel like a kindergartner who has landed themselves in a brand new world. With tenuous steps, my mouth agape I look around in wonderment. Where was this? Why did I not know about all this? And the “this” I am referring to is the world of possibilities.
After coming through a tunnel, blindly navigating rocks and mud pits, I can see the light. When I first typed this, I thought: “oh how trite those words are.” But I will stick with the metaphor and bear the criticism.
This new land of opportunities used to have fences and a locked gate. I thought the payment for entry was impossible for me. The fee was self-confidence and lack of fear. I have the minimum of each, but enough to pass through. The gatekeeper is the voices in my head which I am learning can be trained to sing a different song.
We develop our sense of the world by those who we surround ourselves with. My old world since birth was filled with angry naysayers who reveled in judgment and hatred of others. Their poison had no antidote and the only solution was extrication. The separation was devastating and it has taken me a very long time to even realize how toxic I was. These toxins had destroyed my health and if left unabated I know I would have been dead by now, if not naturally, by my own hand.
It is not that I started yesterday on this journey. It truth, it has been twelve years. There have been many people who have been placed in my path to guide and support me as well as those who have impeded me. That’s life. The lesson is to learn to trust and with so many misjudgments on my part of the people I have entrusted; it is not an easy thing for me to do. The skill I am still learning is to feel and sense, carefully love and trust but not have expectations. The only expectations we can really control are the ones we place on ourselves. Mine, especially the ones I have placed on myself, have demanded too much and I am learning to temper the disappointment with acceptance.
I am stunned as to how many people are in this world of possibilities. A newly discovered country for me is the blog world. I am in awe of the writing of so many talented authors whose authentic stories of hope and struggle are there to inspire. Their virtual strength allays my fears and offers a digital hand up when I falter and stumble. Some may say that this is not a viable resource as the anonymity prohibits any real connection. The bible is only words bound into to a format for reading. Hieroglyphics may have been the prehistoric blog posts of some soothsayer of its time. Writing is not a new form of communication. What is different is the power and speed of reaching thousands of people at a time and reaping the immediate feedback of your message from total strangers who are passengers on a similar journey. The sense of community, although not physical in its actual contact, has no geographical or ethnical boundaries. It is a powerful circuit complete in its connection.
The world of possibilities supports the land of opportunities. The fields are filled with new ventures; the roads are numerous in their uncharted pathways. I need to be aware, especially in my innocence, of dangers and thieves. I need to circumnavigate the swamps of depression and the mire of anger. I need to board the ship of confidence and cross the waters of ambition. I need to be ready to face the storms by bravely facing into the wind. But with brand new shoes that will still hurt my feet at times, I step off the plane and onto the street called Hope.