Healing Happens

There are matters one whittles away at for such long periods of time that the process of whittling moves into the background, becoming a sort of spinning, half-forgotten-ongoing-trance… a suppression that can sap one’s energy and affect health if truly forgotten. Otherwise, I believe the process is a natural one, working out complexities and integrating changes in a deeper than a calculated way. This has been the case in my own life, since separating from my husband of over 20 years, now about 4 years ago.

While going ‘about the day’ making sure to meet our needs and elevate our level of sanity, part of me has also been always reliving the whys and wherefores, the what-ifs and where-we-went-wrongs. When answering for the relationship’s failure and the financial and other challenges that have resulted, I’ve always found it hard to give the two of us much tenderness, but rather have categorized our mistakes as careless, stupid, short-sighted, preventable, with an underlying sub-text that blame leaned slightly more his way or mine.

After all, with distance there is also perspective, and we all want to learn so that we can do better going forward and help others avoid the situations we’ve come to see the paths to so nakedly, especially our kids if we have them.

My son asked a question on the way to school this week, about finances and investments. I’ve been so apologetic toward he and his sisters when I imagine what I would have liked to be able to do for them, with them, at these stages of their lives. I’ve been embarrassed to know how close we were at one time, even if I’m sure that the changes made were for the right reasons. There is little question that we are happier, more settled, and in the long term, healthier. However there is also little question that meeting day to day material needs is more of a challenge than it would have been had we not let the house go for way less than it was worth, drained investments… had we given more time, held on longer.

So what happened this week when my son asked his question? I began to describe our thinking when we first began… all the plans we made and the visions behind them, the reasoning and calculations, the values at the core of what we now know was our expanding perhaps too fast. From the tiny apartment, to the larger townhouse, to the leap we made in buying a “money pit” of an improvement project in the best neighborhood we could find. From the low interest rates we made sure of and the 15-not-30 year mortgage, to the 5 year plan that would allow us to move closer to the dream situation… how thoughtful and careful we were, banking on the energy of our desire and ambition, moving forward.

To be honest, I was impressed with us, even as I listened to myself describe where we went wrong, like purchasing hurricane shutters and a much too large dining set on credit, and even knowing that we were never too far gone to have recovered, but that our miserable communication skills eventually prevented our wanting to make it work together, prevented our seeing farther.

The thing is, so strangely and wonderfully, a huge, joyful feeling bubbled up as I described the condition of the house when we first bought it, and how we’d put every spare cent and second into improvements…  learning so much by doing, including installing a much complimented new kitchen for nearly nothing, thinking of the horrendous mirrored wall that had first been there, and the dated mural from the 1980’s. I found myself smiling aloud, speaking of us with great affection and compassion.

What it comes down to is that I had forgiven us, but didn’t know it. Somewhere along the way, something had softened.

I loved those two young people and all their stubbornness and energetic dreams. I loved their ideals… their hearts… so deeply and completely. All I could think was “thank you thank you thank you… thank you thank you thank you” as I drove along with this nearly grown young man next to me, the youngest of three that we have indeed been able to do so many envisioned things with and for… a process ongoing, though changed.

Permission

On the way to school, bored by the current list of updated podcasts on my i-Pad, my son opened Kindle to read aloud from whatever happened to appear. In this case, it was Gabrielle Bernstein’s book The Universe Has Your Back. Gabrielle is pretty new to me and at first struck me as overly perky — as though she was me 15 or so years ago, before big challenges to positive manifestation/faith teachings — but, that reflected some underlying cynicism way more my issue to work with than hers. Gabby is indeed energetic and fast-talking in a way that I am when off-kilter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she is off-kilter too.🙂

My son began to read a portion of the book that describes Gabby’s friend Lance’s story of coming to terms with feelings of intellectual inadequacy, but it was hard for him to take seriously. The writing is simple, in a kind of “On my summer vacation we went to the beach…” type of formula that has frustrated him in school for eighteen years. I laughed; his take was funny and not exactly untrue.

Then I heard myself say what I myself needed to hear.

In general there are differences between teachers and coaches. With a teacher, the idea is often to be taught something you don’t know, to be shown something you don’t see, gain a new way of doing something. With a coach, you already know what they are telling you, but they stir you and bring what is known and needed to the forefront of your mind, so that you can enact it yourself.

“Lance” seems generic and vague because he is meant to be. He is a template of sorts, not meant to take you out of yourself the way literature does. Gabby described a copy-editor that continually neglected to send her invoice in one of the chapters before, and I laughed with relief because that copy-editor was figuratively, me. Too many specifics about this copy-editor and I may not have been able to project myself into her story.

There is permission here. I’m someone often reading a few books at a time, one almost always being a spiritual motivational book of some sort, which might sit right next to a Stalin biography, and an obscure Tibetan text. Each has its place and benefit.

10 Day Actors Challenge

This turned out to be a productive and therapeutic process, although it took me about 17 days instead of 10 or 11, and although I’m not an Actor by profession. Indeed, I’m always hard pressed to answer when asked what my profession is, since expression has always appeared for me embedded within ever-changing contexts of opportunities and interests that arise, usually in contrast to whatever it is I am seeking. In the last decade, expression has centered around research and writing, but even that, not in a straight forwardly packageable way.

So I took this as an ‘artistic activity’ challenge and found the format of the program – which includes a central question (this time about ‘power’) every day, meditation, timed and un-timed writings, creative expression, physical activity, and giving – deeply satisfying. I’ve participated in and facilitated retreat type programs before, and this measured very well, being rather demanding in terms of long term habit formation. Plus, it came at just the right time.

More than half way through the program, already hooked into the practice, the US election arrived; most of my feelings displaced themselves for safe keeping while my intellect worked to catch up. I didn’t do the work on the Wednesday following the election, but maybe I picked it up again Thursday, going through motions while waiting for emotions to fully return. I’m not sure I’ve been ‘that’ thrown since the morning of 9.11.2001.

When I finally let myself turn inward, handing over the reigns to these wonderful facilitators, the tears came. And kept coming. Guidance began to stir ever so slightly within deep vulnerability, freeing up another part of me to more directly desire the struggle, to find my bounce and form words, nourishing what I needed to begin to rise.

Here is What I Know, for today

What has happened in my country is complex. Many are facing the reality that blind spots and complacency are sometimes not just shocking, but dangerous. The truly tender-hearted, who may have voted or not voted, who may have stood on one side or another but not taken seriously the threat of latent bigotry, will now either close their eyes and pray or will open their eyes and pray, and act.

“There are no enlightened persons, only enlightened activity” said Suzuki Roshi.

This is my mantra, for today.

painting meditation

Painting Meditation

The feeling of brush in paint, on paper, is calming and therapeutic.

Then, Prisma app makes the image shareable, muting some colors that were too bright or didn’t mix quite as well, highlighting the stroke detail… even imposing a few things I might have added with greater skill, or if I’d be using my preferred medium of oil. Acrylics dry so fast!

I never know what I am thinking until I see it out in the world. My mind is full of trees, dancers, angels, women in elegant rags…

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Already Been Gone

I’m on a treadmill – the working one next to the broken one, in the small complex gym. A plastic garden chair, gray, sits in view behind a pool that seems painted on the ground, or like a sticker pressed onto a Colorform book. Forbidden. The sun is bright today.

Legs move, attention leans back. Layers of impressions synchronize… all is, okay. I go somewhere, which I see only in retrospect when fragments begin to stir. A thousand eyes are darting about, seeking points of concentration. Attentions are split, going as if (with?) the chair and staying as if (with?) the me. A million years pass, tumbleweeds roll by, before I wonder if it is okay to be this vague.

Pointless.

It is not distance, not floating from above or disappearing ‘me’ again. Are we grounding each other? I feel the posture of the chair; my own changes. Imagination is something to do, but what pops up on its own, quite different.. slightly other.

Whether to stay in the connection with the chair, or to write down the thoughts, which do after all seem unintrusive, trustworthy of this restful oasis. But I reach for the phone amidst the gentle percolating of creative affirming thoughts, to find the moment already been gone, before I thought so.

What is Reality? An icicle forming in fire.

– Dogen