The Morning Visitor

The cove

 

The cove

Everyday, I would get up before 6 am and watch the River wake up. It very quiet and devoid of humans. It is the time of reflection and prayer. I would sit on my porch and watch the parade. The only sound breaking the quiet was the click of the shutter of my camera. This was the best time to do my gratitude roll call. I also started a new ritual of a pain dump. The morning is the worse time for my body’s revolt against movement, having slept in one position for most of the night. I worry that there will be a morning that I will have no control of my legs and will not be able to move. But that is not really going to happen. This morning that I shot these, the water was very accepting of my pain which I sent it. I decided, no actually, I was directed to go to the edge of the water and wait. Normally, I sit high up on the porch and watch. I trundled myself of to the water’s edge and waited. The River is pretty cold in August when we normally go up, so there was not a morning swim in my plans this June morning. Camera in tow, I waited quietly. When…

Blue Heron

Charlene says good morning

Up popped up my favorite bird, Charlene. We sat and stared at each other and I was afraid to move for fear she would startle. She allowed me to shoot a few shots of her, but in my nervousness, they were not so great. I have been shooting pictures of the heron who comes to this cove now for about four years. I have no idea if it truly is the same bird. I was shooting with a small camera and have logged probably a 100 shots of this bird on her rock which is across the cove. The voice in my head told me to go to the edge and I was delighted with my visit. She actually peeked around the rock and sort of startled me as I have never been this close. This was my birthday present as the day was the dawn of my fifty-ninth year. I took it all as a great omen of the upcoming year. Herons have been my totem for years. We have many herons where I live and my commute to work is not complete until I have a least one sighting. Part of my enjoyment of coming to the river is to see and photograph as many animals as I can, especially herons.  Charlene had not failed me in the past years as she seems to know when I am out and will come a pose at her rock across the cove. This closeness is totally unusual for herons as they are loners and very excitable. Normally, they would not allow for this close proximity. She stayed for awhile, occasionally checking to see what I was doing, which was staring at her with my mouth wide open. The picture does not do justice as to how close we actually were. For me, there is no greater gift than the acceptance of animals. I have noticed lately that they look at me differently as do small children. We were in a crowd of dog lovers this weekend and the pups would single me out and come to me for a scratch. Someone commented that their dog never is that affectionate to strangers. This to me is also part of the gift I received and I am grateful for it. There are many “things” that I have received and I make sure to pay attention now. It is the small little things that are most powerful in life. In the early morning quiet of the River, it is especially easy to be aware of how wonderful life is and to hear the glorious quiet messages that we are meant to listen to. I made a vow to return often to this place, even if it is only in my head. My heart belongs to this water and land, and it is magical in it healing capabilities. As I move forward with my plans to learn about alternative healing methodologies, I will hold on to this gift from the water. So Charlene sat with me for a while only peeking around when she heard me stir as I prepared a shot. Then, as silently as a whisper, she took off. To capture a heron in flight is truly a photographers dream and I have been waiting for years for a good shot. Another gift was given to me as she spread her huge wings and went in pursuit of her breakfast.

Charlene in flight

Charlene in flight

Photographs are copyrighted by JDeMeis @2013

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A weekend in the 1000 Islands

Great Blue Heron on rock

 

Charlene on Rock

We are back from a wonderful trip to the 1000 Islands. It is a photographers dream land. I shot of over 400 photos and will be using the pictures for my blog. Of course everything is copyrighted please. I am using a brand new EOS Cannon T4i. LOVE iT. One of the things I shoot a lot of is Blue Herons. I know this bird on the rock  as I have been shooting Charlene, as I have named her, for years. She comes out when she sees me. I have a close up I need to clean up that is a hoot. This is the private cove at the end of the Edgewood property. We are the last room on the place. The owner is so kind, she actually moved someone out so we could have the place.

Night sky from our room

Night sky from our room

 

 

This is the view from our porch and below is the private cove that Charlene and all the other water fowl visit. 

 

Small private cove with Charlene fishing.

Small private cove with Charlene fishing.

We get a few visitors down to our end of the property.

Wally

Wally

Usually, we have it to ourselves. But this is Wally and his feather.

This is also the time of the year when the Osprey are parenting. We saw two nest very close up.  I have a ton of pictures of Ospreys, all most as many as I have of geese and herons. This is Dad alone right over my head.

Osprey

Osprey

For now, this is all I have time to post. It was an amazing trip. I spent a lot of time thinking and praying. But for tonight, I am tired and going to spend what ever time I have before I fall asleep in my other favorite place: my chair in my garden.  I will begin posting again soon.

Miss you all!

End of day

End of day

All photos copyrighted by JDeMeis   @ 2013

To the River

IMG_2009

This will probably be my last blog post for four or five days. MY husband and I are taking a much need trip to our favorite place. I could probably write up there but they do not have internet in the rooms. The place is an old resort that has been around for over a century. It has been renovated and is lovely. The family who owns it treats us like we are part of their family. We have been going there for seven years and love it. We have made friends of some of the staff. The matriarch of the family runs the kitchen and will sit down at our table to chat and complain and holds little back. She is endearing and I hope when I get to be close to eighty that I am still the powerhouse she is.  It is like going to a beloved family reunion only better as we have privacy and we do not have to lift a finger.

I admit I am running away. I need to take a break. The River sooths me and revitalizes me like no other place. Lately I feel splayed and raw. I need to recharge. My strength has been zapped and I am crawling through the day with little vitality and energy. When I get like this, I seem to be over sensitive to everything and react with uncontrolled emotions and angst. I hate it and yet I am unable to contain it. I reach out only to feel like I am being ignored or abandoned. This is probably the good intention of friends to help me heal on my own. But right now, I could just use a hug.

There are many things we are facing this summer. My husband is having eye surgery. At first, it was supposed to be a simple cataract removal but on closer inspection, the cataract is huge and the surgery may be more involved. He is having this done on one eye immediately when we come back and then in another two weeks they will do the other eye. I feel  bad for him as I would not want someone to mess with my eyes. But the relief for his inability to see will be amazing. But I am still very concerned as they were going to only numb his eye and now they are talking a deeper anesthesia. He is not a healthy man at all. He is also looking at surgery for venous leg issues. Although I know these things will make him better, I still have some anxiety about it.

I am also facing what is turning out be a major cluster at work. We will be rolling out a new documentation process which goes live in three months. I cannot put into words how derailed this process is already. The person who is in charge is way over her head. An example of the ineptness of her leadership, she forgot to secure for me a password to access the on line training modules to start reviewing them and the only person with the authority to give credentials is away for a while. And last week, she decided they do not want to use the existing training but feels we should design specific training for our company. “WE”, who is WE? Ok, just typing this made me breathe in short spurts. The work load for this summer  and fall is so out of reality that when I think of what is expected I want to get sick. I usually enjoy challenges but do not have the strength right now to be calm. Instead I am swirling around and out of control inside and I know I have to put a lid on this immediately.

My journey is taking on new adventures when I come back. I am going to be starting classes in Reiki. I will be taking more classes in Healing Touch Therapy this fall. I feel a compulsion to learn about different modalities of alternative healing. It is a very strong desire. I was worried that I would not have the right stuff to do this, but I have discovered that I do. I am also not so worried about the end usage as much as I am a student only and driven to learn.

My time spent working with specific guides has changed and is also waning. This is a very hard transition for me as I am still feeling very insecure about a lot of things. Although my health has improved greatly, which was the primary reason I started this whole process, I feel vulnerable and weak. I am hoping that some time alone on the River will help with the pain in my heart which is actually very acute right now.

This blog has been a wonderful device for me to discharge some of my worries and has produced amazing feedback which has encouraged me in times of strife. I realize that everything in general will be fine but right now, I am too tired to see and I am just weary. I cannot hear the messages I need and I know in the quiet of the River, I will find some of the solace I need desperately right now.

 

Little Victories

It is the Little Victories that make life so wonderful. As we go through our day, we should stop and celebrate all the little challenges we overcome. Sometimes they are pretty big ones, and it is healthy to stop and say, “Yeah I successfully got through that.”  If you are like me, you probably spend a great deal of time in preparation of some stressful event. My new motto is acknowledge myself in some manner once I have completed the hurdle to make sure I imprint the success, no matter how small. It is part of being aware and produces a very nice feeling.

Part of my healing has included dealing with all the little phobias I developed over time. The list was expansive and I did not realize how paralyzed I had become. The Associative Awareness Techniques has disassociated many of the external cues that were causing pain and other ailments. The therapy works towards balance and control, something I was completely lacking. I was reacting to input that I was not even aware of which was causing great pain and suffering. It has worked on my pain greatly reducing the constant aches from a level 7 to usually a 1 or 2. Not saying my pain does not flare, but I have learned techniques to calm the fire. But an added bonus, which there are many bonuses, I have also learned to overcome stress to a much bigger degree. Trust me, it is a work in progress and there are and will be times I am not doing so great. Part of my healing is to accept that and work on moving past those moments.

One of my biggest phobias included travel. I have never been a big fan of traveling, however I like being in different places. It is the getting there, not the destination that I worried over. Now worry does not quite cover the emotional toll I would extract when I had to go somewhere new. If I was traveling with someone and they were driving, the concern would be lessened. But, I still would perseverate if I would agree to go somewhere to the point whatever the event was, by the time I had to actually leave, I would be so worked up I would suffer greatly. I know when it all really started and I know where the fear became part of my repertoire but it is the past and gone. I knew in my heart that this was something I had to work on to get over because I wanted my independence back. To be honest, it had gotten so bad that there were days when going to the grocery store would overwhelm me and ruin a perfectly good day off. I would try to figure a way out of having to simply get in my car and drive less than a mile to get the necessary food for the week in the house. Seems silly as I write this, but it was a true impediment for me.

I knew I had to face this dragon head on. Nine months ago, that would not have been a possibility. I can count how many activities I have not participated in because I would have had to drive myself. Granted, my husband enjoys driving and is a willing chauffeur. But there have been times when I wanted to do something with a friend or just myself and said no because it required me taking myself. This fear recently reared its ugly head as my husband has an issue which is impairing his sight. He is having surgery and the situation will easily be remedied, but it was like a slap in the face when I realized I had to stop relying on others to create my safety.

I used to have to drive as part of my job when I was working with families who had a loved one who was receiving services from the agency where I worked. Although they were only small journeys to various homes for in-service visits, I hated it. I was not completely unable to do it, but was relieved when I was promoted to a different responsibility. This was less than eight years ago and within that time, I became this petrified person who would perseverate about going to the local store. This is how quickly fear can over take your being if you let it….not that I let it, I was not even aware of it until now. I think that is part of my message here. Be aware how quickly something can spiral out of control and the grip on your life can be exponentially your undoing.

As part of my current job requirements I am now going to have to drive about forty miles one way to an affiliate we have just purchased. I was scheduled for a meeting yesterday and with short notice. It was a good thing because I did not have a lot of time to think about it. Actually, I did not think about it. I had an unusual calm about the whole matter. I also had to do something yesterday which normally causes me great anxiety and that is to attend a high level meeting at the enormous medical center which we are affiliated with. When I say huge, I am not exaggerating. I was supposed to attend with our CEO, who knows the hospital well, but with less than eight hour notice, I was on my own.

I resolved the fear of the longer commute to the distant meeting by trundling my best friend and I off for a day of shopping on Saturday. We made a drive by and secured the location and then spent the afternoon shopping at the outlet mall located nearby. I drove. We had a blast. Yesterday, I had no anxiety and the only thing I realize is I need better tunes in my car, which magically turns into a sound booth when I am driving. Why is it that our voice sounds so incredible in the car when no one can hear it? With a little planning, I figured out the best way to attack the medical center for my 7am meeting and that played out better than I could have imagined. I got there so early that the place I parked was empty, which never happens there. They have transports to and from parking lots located miles away it is so bad. I did have to ask one person for help once inside and she was so generous and took me exactly where I needed to be. This gave me a few moments to relax and calm before a meeting with a board of directors and high level medical administrators. No problem!

I have learned and will continue to learn to let go and let things happen. I call on a Higher Power to guide me and so far it has not failed. For those of you who know this and have been practicing this methodology, it is natural. For me, it is all new. I am still amazed when it works and I have to push myself to trust. But the good news I am doing it and learning. As a teacher, I know the importance of receiving positive feedback to accelerate learning and growth. These milestones for me are big and impact me greatly so I made sure I gave myself kudos the rest of the day. I shared my achievements with my husband who has patiently seen the toll the stress has caused and often receives the fallout. It was such a simple victory but not less in its significance for me.

 

 

 

 

 

What is love?

I have been thinking about this for a long time. Every Sunday morning, I spend time just reflecting on my week and my hopes for the upcoming week. I also spend time saying thanks for all the variety of things and people who touched me in some way. I call it my gratitude roll call. I wish sometimes it was a more tangible thing than just a quiet thank you in my head. But it is all I have. This brings up a concept which buzzes all the time in my head: love. LOVE. Simply that. Why are so many people afraid of giving and receiving and just having love?

I think we overuse “Love ya” to the point where it has diminished the value of the meaning of love. Way back, it was common to say “Luv ya” in an attempt to soften the impact that saying “I love you” creates. This is what my quandary is. Why does saying I love you have such a fear evoking response?

When we are kids, it is one of the first phrases we learn and hear. “I love you little one.” People gush it all over babies whether they are their own or not. Is it because the person can say it freely because the child knows no commitment and is unable to articulate a response?  Is a true statement or a cliché?  Does it run in the same vernacular as “I could just eat you up?”  Heaven hopes that never comes true.

We often utter “oh I just love her” and I think that it is something we use and learn early in our youth as a peer acceptance mechanism. If you LOVE what everyone else does, you’re ok. To me, it is just a word to describe a form of acceptance when it is used in this manner. This is not what I am talking about when I say love.

As we get older and begin the ritual of bonding and mating, saying I love you has a whole new meaning. The first time it is said between two partners changes everything in their relationship and not always with a positive reaction. Why is that? I never got that. I can remember the first adult relationship I had and how saying I love you was not what the person wanted to hear. Of course at the time, I was not aware of his fear of commitment and he thought I was expecting more from the relationship than he was willing to give. Turn out for the best that he did not reciprocate, but I still love him. He will never know that.

When I was very young I had such a sense of love, or at least what I thought was love. Since it was me and my interpretation of the feeling, I am going with it and accept it as love. As I progressed through the past months, I discovered that feeling again and it felt weird. It was the unconditional love I gave as a child. There were many situations in my past which had tarnished that feeling to the point where it was almost forgotten. And once I started to sense it again, I felt like it was wrong. It was too innocent and naive. It made me vulnerable at a time when I was learning to be strong. It exposed me and I felt it left me a weakling. But it felt good when I allowed it. I realize now that it was actually part of my healing and has given me much strength. It is actually the unconditional love that is there for all of us if we allow it and it will flow freely if you let it.

I am still cautious as to who I express such a sentiment and only because the reaction is still such a surprise to me. People get flustered when you tell them you love them. I have tried to explore the reason behind this. I think it goes back to the training we get when we are younger. I think it is taught that when someone says I love you, they are asking for something in return. I think people expect that the receiver must reply with an automatic I love you back. Well, that is nice when it is real, but sounds so hollow when it is not. I would rather get a simple thank you. That is all that is required when someone gets a gift. And that is what love is. A gift.

Maybe my interpretation is off. When I say I love you I mean it to say” I accept you for whom and what you are. Your impact on me is a blessing and I am grateful. The only way I can show you how much you matter to me and the depth of how I feel for you is to say I love you”

There are levels and different types of love I give, but that is the basic concept to me. I do not equate love and sex in any context. Love to me is gender free. I have the love for my family which is varied for sure and changeable. The acceptance part is not always the same and in truth not always there. But family is not something we have complete control over so I have learned to relinquish the desire to control and just love them as they are. Not always as easy as it sounds. I have deep love for friends and then I have compassion for others. The difference is the compassion is not as all encompassing, but I honestly care for them. The circle of those I truly love is not large but the membership is faithful. That circle includes those who have come into my path to guide and nurture me. I truly love them for their gifts to me and I am eternally grateful. They are the ones who opened the door for me to discover what love is again.

I think we also stomp love out of people. I am trying to understand the thinking behind tormenting someone, be it a child or a spouse, because the perpetrator feels license to behave that way because their prey loves them. I am never going to give up being an advocate for the eradication of that behavior.

Maybe I am misinterpreting the word, but I think that love is something that is individually defined but available for everyone. I do not think that this is a subject I am ever going to get all my answers. But in my quest for learning, this is truly one I want more information on.

 

Missing the iceberg

I do not usually write twice in one day on my blog, but I felt it was necessary to circle back after my pitiful post this morning. I hate feeling so lost, I truly do. So I wanted to thank everyone who sent me such lovely thoughts and prayers and tell you what happened.

I drove to work in a dank fog, both in my head and in the air. The rain splattered my windshield and provided enough of a cover so that no one could see I was crying. No one should drive to work crying and this was the third time this week. I said my prayers again for some peace and unity and that I would be strong enough to handle anything coming my way during the day.

I opened my email as I do every morning and found a meeting request from the person who I was having such horrible difficulties with. I thought she was going to back down from the semi-agreement we put together in our last meeting but I accepted in hopes I would be wrong. I went off to facilitate my Core team as we had a guest speaker, the other person who was in the earlier meeting this week. She greeted me with such warmth and it was like all issues never happened and we were back to a smooth working unit. I relaxed and the 15 participants in the group had a wonderful productive meeting. I forgot the angst and felt that calm in my gut that had vacated earlier.

I attended the next meeting with the other person, and it was again, non-confrontational. After that meeting we walked back to her office for a private conversation where we both spit out all our concerns and calmly regained the cohesive prior working relationship we had established. I do not care to have intense friendships with co-workers but I also do not want adversaries. I realized the grip I had placed unconsciously on myself and let it go. I was so tired. This is what I hate about being in a hostile work environment. The toll it takes on my body. Even though I know better, I am still struggling with connecting my physical reaction with the mental one and letting the mental one be in control. A quick nap resolved my energy and I am back to me. And that is just fine.

Do not think me stupid enough to trust this situation to be all roses and light. I do have  enough business acumen to know better. I just did not want to spend my eight hours plus in a high school environment with petty bickering. I think we have resolved that this will not be the situation. I felt comfortable enough to tell her I would not tolerate it. She also admitted what I knew going in. She needs me more than I need her. And that is also just fine.

I thought on the way home that some might think my worries are childish and I need to put value on something more grand. I guess to some extent, my passion is not comprehended by some as necessary. I decided, it is the way I roll. I was born this way. Ha! But as I drove home, I asked myself the same thing I used to ask my students at the end of a project. “What did you learn?” I learned to accept there are times that I will be passionate and there are times that passion will change something. But there are times it might not. This fortunately was one of those times the investment was worth it. This was not about me. It was about making a huge change process not become a monster. It was about retaining employees and connecting crucial staff to the project. As I said to the person in charge, I do not want the responsibility of overseeing this, I just want it to work and without casualties. I learned I overreact. I could hang my head in shame, but I am not going to. I accept this about myself and will continue to work on making it something I can contain. I also accept my passion and in fact in the early conversation with everyone, this fact was brought up several times as a positive attribute. I learned that my body’s physical reaction is more evident than I think as I looked in the mirror this morning and saw two dark circles ringing my eyes. I learned that my normally controlled eating habits go down the tubes and I am not even aware of it. Yesterday, I sat at my desk and consumed five cookies I brought into share and as I went to reach for the sixth, the reality of my consumption hit me. I smirk because I excuse myself as I think six cookies are better than six glasses of vodka, my old pain killer.

But the biggest thing I learned is how powerful prayer is and how amazing it works. My friend sent me a scripture (Ephesians) and it brought great comfort to me to know I was not alone in this battle. For ages, people have struggled in similar battles, dealing with demons and what I would refer to in current vernacular as a**holes.  The responses in my blog were like virtual hugs to say; “keep on the path, you’re doing fine.”  Every time I go through something lately, I learn so much. I keep thinking where the hell was I when these lessons were being taught? It does not matter. I am an avid student now.

So thank you everyone. With abundant gratitude to The Creator and all the spirits who guide us on our way; I am humbled by your work.

 

Iceberg ahead…

I am struggling this morning to write something that is not going to come out as whining or complaining. Even though this is my spot to put my thinking, I really do not want to add to the angst that I am feeling. I hate this feeling by the way and I have been working very diligently on learning techniques to not let it over take me. I went to bed early and spent time in prayer and using my relaxing tricks and it work. I slept well with quiet dreams and woke only when it was time. But I feel the edges creeping inward and in the light of day, I see the shadow lurking.

The cause of my concern is totally out of my control. It is related to my place of work and stems from a situation which I have been dealing with recently. I am projecting this situation in to the future…….I know. I know….”Live in the present moment!”  This is one of those situations where I need a lesson plan to follow. And if this situation would only impact me and the projected outcome would not be so horrific, I could with some serious concentration, but it aside.

But it will impact everyone. It already has. We are on the Titanic and I see the iceberg. Yesterday, I faced the situation in a small discussion with the offending participants and expressed my concerns which were not heard. Matter of fact, they shared information which I did not know which is going to make the situation…well the only word that popped in my head is ridiculous. My intuition is in overdrive on this, and I am glad I at least did the right thing by exposing concerns yesterday. But the resolve is not there and the direction they wish to go is off the edge of cliff. I am struggling because I am not a lemming. Nor is the corps of well-seasoned and highly distinguished nurses who have come into my confidence about this matter.

I have faced apprehensions before. In truth, I have been consumed and fed the drama that ensued from matters that had less potential for disaster. I joined in the hand wringing and postulation of the group for the imminent catastrophe. I do not want to go there this time. I have things in place in my personal life that the loss of employment would not be devastating. Hence, my bravado yesterday to call the meeting of the captain and first mate. They were so wrapped up in their egos they were unable to hear any of my concerns. This proves why I do not become close to anyone at work in a social capacity. As I looked at the captain’s face, I could see reality was coming to the forefront but I know she will not do anything about her long time friend’s inability to steer this ship. She handpicked her for this assignment.

So I hear all the great advice and counsel I have received in the past months about how I should handle this and the feelings that are coming in waves. But I am unfortunately  struggling mightily. My forecast indicates that their inability to see the disastrous results of their poor planning will impact my work load greatly. I wrote that calmly but in my head it is screaming in other words which are not so gentle. But the thing that is bothering me the most is how this is impacting the work environment. In a flippant comment made yesterday, they laughed off that they lost fifty percent of the work force from a previous change process. Yes, 50%. When I asked for clarification, they made excuses about other places of work attracting them and that they survived. I am totally at a loss as to how they would even contemplate that this was ok.

So, now to me…..I am so lost on this one. I am trying to get in place that this is only a job and that it survived without me before and will survive without me afterwards. However, I cannot seem to get the constricting bands that are starting to tighten to not. My breath is shortening and try as I am, the fear is there. I am reasoning through the fact that I have done what I can at this point. But this morning I must face the nurses who came to me for guidance and I feel I have failed. I know their ability to walk is very real and their loss will only expedite the crash. Again, I know this too is their personal choice and out of my control. Their solidarity and support of my leadership is something I am much honored to have. It is not about my ego needing to be stroked either. This is about all of us facing head on ….I was going to say a wall…..but in essence it is just stupidity.

My prayers are not for the solution to the situation. I understand my parameters in order to affect the total outcome of this matter.  My prayer is for the simple release from the impending dragon’s mouth. It is my earnest desire to not be sucked down into the physical and mental anguish which is so easily produced if I am unaware. I know I need to institute the power of not giving a dam, more recently referred to as F**K-it. Search as I might, I cannot find that resolve yet.  My prayer is for finding the right words to have when people look to me to navigate a smoother crossing. My prayer is to find peace in the current which in short order is going to be very turbulent ending in a syphoning vortex. I want my light back and I am angry that I am still so weak that I am still allowing others to steal it.

So this did evolve in to a pity party so I am stopping. I will publish this only in hopes that I may receive some of the answers to my prayers.

Dream Release

This is something that came up in a conversation last night. What happens to the soul when there is nothing left to dream about? The only answer I could come up with is you give up, become bitter and angry, and eventually you die. We all die but I think lack of dreams expedites it. It was a sad conversation with someone who is so blocked and thwarted by life that they are trapped. We all have had trapped moments. Many are self-inflicted traps perpetuated by the capture. It is often hard to find the release mechanism in our fury and pain. But it is there.

As I sat and listened last night, I realized how far I had come. My traps were very much self-created out of the existence of my life. They were there and in some instances, I was not even aware of their clutch. I am still very much working on a permanent solution to some of the neurological traps produced from stimulus that will never be gone. This external stimulus comes at me and I am totally unaware of it, yet once received and imprinted on my cellular receptors, I can (note: can) become toxic. I hate it too, which makes it even harder to deal with. I am learning to be aware of the stimulus and to stop the reaction before it gets out of control. I am winning more often.  The stimulus is not ever going to go away. It is innocent in its existence.

Sometimes I hear platitudes like “life happens”… yes, of course it does. So does death. Life is either on or off. We cannot escape this. But it is what we do when we are on that makes it worthwhile and wonderful. That is where dreams come in. I am firmly convinced that without dreams, you cease to exist. And the partner that makes dreaming work is faith. One is the car and one is the fuel. We just go along for the ride. And like most vehicles, they break down and you will change them as they and you age. It is ok and the way it is supposed to work.

As a little girl I had many dreams of my future. One was fulfilled and that is to be a teacher. The vocational dream is actually one we really have the most control over as it requires only one driver. You. There are many mechanics that will help shape the dream and keep the momentum forward, but you have to ask for the help. Two of my certifications are as a vocational counselor. I am privileged to have supported the many dreams of my high school and college students, the people I have worked with and individuals who are developmentally disabled. It is an area of practice that I am still employed in. I encourage anyone who is dissatisfied with their current employment to seek support and guidance in finding a better fit. You spend most of your day at work, you should enjoy it.

But as in all arenas of life, you have to do the work and create the dream. Only you can do that. If someone influences your dream to the point where it becomes your own and then you realize it was not your true dream, you will become resentful. Parents often will inflect their dreams upon the child slowly leaving an empty vehicle with no driver. This is a huge cost of a human being who could have contributed. I worked with such one young man whose dream was to become a minister. He was so excited about his path until his father got him in his clutches. The father wanted the son to be his prodigy and take over the business. The father enticed the young man, threw money and titles at him and even though at first the son fought, the temptation was too great. Now his trap is even tighter as the son now has a young son of his own and I am sure the trap will perpetuate.

But what of the soul who has no dream? I can honestly say that there have been times recently where my dream became vague and unfocused. I hated the feeling of being lost with no compass and no end point in sight. I caution about end sites. They need to be a bit flexible but you do need to discover the general concept or how else will the universe assist you with achievement. If there is no concept, nothing can help you achieve the prize. I truly believe that when you ask in a clear and concise manner for something, it will be given to you. It may not be in your time frame but you need to be open for receiving it. If you cast a wish for something nebulous, that is what you will get.

In my quest to define my dream, I reached out to my guides to help define my path, often wanting to attach to their dream. I wanted a life buoy tossed to me as I felt I was sinking. Creating a dream can be a frightening concept especially when you are newly released from self-made traps. But once you learn to breathe on your own and experience the sensation of freedom to create, it can be amazing. I am still very much defining my dream, but I have a concept to strive for. I am enjoying the process so much more now. My current dream is to understand; simply that.  And so to that end I am consumed with seeking opportunities to learn. I am a voracious learner and it is part of my dream to never stop learning. My appetite for knowledge is insatiable, but it is the light in my eye that sparkles. What is happening now is that opportunities to learn are presenting themselves. All roadblocks are removed without any assistance from me other than to ask for their removal.

At first, I thought this was a fault, a weakness to not know. The error was in believing it; holding on to the misery of thinking something was unobtainable. I was trapped unable to move forward because I was stuck in a myth. Sometimes it was the voice in my head and other times it was from well-intentioned counsel.  But the gift in dreaming is there are no limitations other than those imposed by the dreamer. My goal is to discover as much as I can. Where it will take me is irrelevant in the immediate moment because I do not have a complete map yet. But I soundly know where I am headed allowing the sheets to unfurl.

Dream on my friends. It is the wind in your sails.

Setting boundaries

I had had a glimpse into my future last night. Two old women sitting in chairs, silver white hair streaked with the occasional red flare, bodies worn and soft. The air is punctuated with laughter and soft sighs as they remember the intensity of their past lives. This is what will be for my dear friend and I. Last night, the connection was ear pieces in our heads and the conversation was in two different locations. But it will be as such sooner than we anticipate. Last night’s intense conversation was about setting boundaries. This is something I have struggled with and to some extent, so has she.

Boundaries: self-imposed cages in some manner but the barriers we need to create to protect ourselves and keep predators out.  I have written a lot about predators and their ability to size up souls to devour. In intent to please, I have often offered myself up for sacrifice easily finding a willing diner. This is a character of people who have been in similar situations like I have where you will do just about anything to be accepted and loved. Do not judge until you have been in someone’s shoes.

It is also a skill not taught to young women as being compliant is often considered an attribute and expectation. Both my friend and I are caregivers. She devoted her life to the care of her parents until they both died. Her sacrifice was great and she put a lot of her own desires and needs aside in order for them to be cared for. My story is similar and has been documented in previous journals. It is what we do. I have no issue with being a caregiver as we are the ones who will be there when needed. But often this type of soul does not know when to set boundaries. People are too ready to cross them and take too much of the person, leaving them spent and voided. This is not what one would expect when you set out to give unconditional love and support. No, it is the opposite. That is because the boundaries are blurred and too often an invitation to those who feel entitled to more than their share. As I type this, I find myself getting angry, which is what my friend and I discovered last night. We have a new found chutzpah derived from so many years of being depleted. This new energy comes for me from multiple resources and age is definitely one.

I am writing from my perspective as a woman, the youngest daughter and sibling in a large family. I think it is the expectation that the role of caregiver will automatically be assigned to that rank, followed up with decision making by the eldest. Such was my lot. I do not have regrets for the time spent making the passing of my parents easier for them. The skill of learning to say no, however, was not one I had in my tool box and this lacking impacted my self-esteem as I became flattened by the constant steamrolling produced by the demands of others. Somewhere in my story I thought the ending would be “happily ever after” for those who sacrifice and give. Not so. The one person who I am totally in charge of taking care of was the one who was not being served. Myself.

I can remember the feeling of spending hours doing some chore only to feel used and angry because the receiver had no sense of their demand or offense. I remembered the rage as the demise of my first marriage was looming on the horizon. Why did this man not see my sacrifice that I offered up so willingly? How could he walk away from someone who had given so much of herself? He could because there was nothing of substance left, no backbone, no muscle. Just the shell of a spent soul who had no shape because there were no boundaries set.

Currently I am facing an issue with someone at work. There is always someone in our lives who seems hell-bent on making others miserable. I know in my heart that she is this way because of her own misery. And this is usually where the trouble will begin for me. I can see her faults and excuse her behavior in an attempt to not judge. She does not see this as a kindness, but as a door to walk in and all over me. My friend too has an ongoing issue with someone whose perpetual criticism and negativity is impacting the driving force of a community group. We both would choose not to have to defend our lines, as neither of us like conflict.  But as we talked, the feeling of empowerment over the situation was more freeing than laying down and offering up a weak giving in. The solidarity on this choice was very satisfying and I think both of us will find more strength and joy in our lives when we speak up for ourselves on a continual basis. I know my friend has been able to do this much more consistently than I, but she still would rather not have to go there in the first place.

If I could develop a curriculum for young women growing up in our society, I would include a chapter on setting boundaries. Not all girls struggle with this issue. My stepdaughter, who now as a young woman, still feels she is entitled to more than her share. It is the opposite of the way I was at her age. Neither is correct. Instructions would include that the top priority is to yourself. You cannot serve if there is nothing left to give. The offering will be only sacrifice and will produce for the giver suffering as the soul is ripped to shreds and consumed. Setting a boundary with a gentle hand is the same as setting an expectation of a student. Too low, and you will get results that are less than their ability. Allowing people to cross the personal line is the fault of someone who has not figured out where that line should be. It is not a rigid line and needs to be flexible. But it does need to exist so that when the enemy is at your gate, you can pull up the plank.

As my birthday approaches, I feel a sense of awe as I realize how much I do not know at this age. Again, no directions, no concrete lesson plan to follow. One thing I am sure of is that the two old women of the future sitting in chairs will have many stories to share of their conquests of life. And still will laugh over passing gas!