Catching up, Dream-State Messages, Childhood Angels

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It has been so long since I’ve written anything. I’m in a bit of a revolt, I think. My father said he doesn’t necessarily relate to my style, “stream of consciousness,” he called it. I will admit that threw me off a little; made me more self-conscious. It’s not that I don’t believe in my skills, but when we ask for opinions, we will assuredly get them.

True to form, since I’ve last written, I’ve had headaches, so I think that means I’ve been holding things in. Not expressing myself, feeling unconfident. I’ve also been very busy and I’m not really honoring the “creative pact” one has to make with one’s self if one is serious about creating anything. Instead, I’ve been reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching videos about how other people commit to creating.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. Nothing earth shattering, but enough to keep my attention elsewhere, wandering, unsettled.

I’ve woken with two messages, or statements — one on 3/10/15 and another on 3/18/15 — which I consider to be very empowering and encouraging. I’m reluctant to share them because people will think I’m nuts. But I have decided that I will share them, because we’re all a little crazy. Besides, there’s only two of you reading.

The first message was “You have been written a blank check by God.”

That was a lot to take in. I “heard” the statement in a voice of sorts, just as I was waking. It was sort of part of a dream, but it was also not. I have been deep in thought of late about the concept of shame and guilt and blame and how to sort through those feelings. As much as I felt liberated by the dream I had a few weeks before about a female presence which I believe to be my mother’s “energy” but the visage was of several different women of influence — good or bad — in my life, occasionally something will happen which will trip the trigger on a feeling and we can be “found” skirting the boundary of it all, hence my thoughts on shame and guilt, et. al.

In the words I heard, I received my peace of mind. I am a Catholic on paper and I dig this current pope immensely. I haven’t consistently been to Mass in years and my brother is a pastor in another state and I have a cousin who is a priest across the country. They both left the Catholic faith. I absolutely have trouble with the whole trinity thing, to which my mother often said, “that’s the mystery of faith” which I apparently recited allegiance to for years in one of the creeds I would recite at rote during Mass. All that aside, I believe in God and I always have. Don’t ask me to qualify it or talk about Jesus. It’s not going to happen. I dig Mary, Jesus’ mother like you wouldn’t believe, and so that’s enough for me. The other aspect to me about God is the heavens — the sky and stars and moon and all the galaxies — that to me is proof of God. I suspect my leanings don’t align with the Tea Party (thank you) and other people who think Earth is only as old as the Old Testament guesses, and that’s okay with me.

But this statement, “You have been written a blank check by God” is about Grace and God’s limitless forgiveness. It tells me (whether I believe it or not is really the issue) that I am going to be alright and that the ruminating about shame and guilt regarding my relationship with my now 18-months gone mother (which is now a futile concept, time to get on that bus) is folly. That no matter what I do to myself, God is going to keep that blank check coming to me (and you).

The second message was “For every shame there is a star.”

Clearly, this is more direct. I had not given up on the concept of assigning myself shame and guilt. I had not let go of my dear friend victimhood which keeps me separate from love and acceptance. I also felt I am supposed to share this phrase as well. These messages are not for me only. I am not some prophet and I don’t plan to build an ark anytime soon or start a church or run off to a mountaintop, but I believe that these are concepts that are coming to me because I am seeking counsel, I am seeking relief from a really crappy pattern I’ve nursed about not being “enough” of a person and that in that crappy self-regard, I’m not alone. Hence the decision to share them here. With both of you.

The point of this, like the blank check, is that there is nothing God or the universe can not handle nor predict; all bets are off. There are billions upon billions of stars. I believe that my sense of shame is really more of one of regret for behavior and that it’s something I’m going to have to get over, this sense of failure or perfectionism which I apparently try to pursue and achieve yet never talk about. I honestly thought I was beyond seeking perfection, but I guess my subconscious (and my hamstrings and shoulders and the fact that I don’t feel confident to write these days) would disagree.

. . . . .

I have always taken to seeing coincidences as more than two things that dovetail at the same time. On Wednesday last week, 3/25, we needed to write a check for a field trip for our son. The fee was $44 to cover a charter bus. I hadn’t had my coffee yet and I just wrote the check. My son, noticed immediately that the check number was also 4400. Now, if it were April 4th and it was 4:44 in the afternoon I would have really been freaked out, but I think that was pretty cool on its own.

Later that morning, I had to prepare for a procedure I was having the next day. Even though I wasn’t supposed to have milk in my coffee, I decided, “Fuck that.” And I put the milk in my coffee. The instructions for preparing the preparation for the procedure allowed a tea bag for flavor. I decided to take a lemon ginger tea bag and place it in the container for use several hours later.

Here is what the tea bag tag (Yogi Teas) said, and I am totally and dead serious about this, I did NOT go through a box of tea bags to find this particular missive:

“Empty yourself and let the universe fill you.”

Proof:

How do you not think twice about this?

How do you not think twice about this?

Of course I was going to have to empty myself. Sweet mother of God, have you ever done a prep for a colonoscopy?

I will not go into details (you’re welcome) about this experience, suffice it to say that it was my third time. I go every three years because of family history and it’s the most humbling experience of my life. When I think of people to whom I feel inferior, I remember that they will experience this. When I think of people to whom I feel superior, I remember that I must experience this.

They say that poverty is a great equalizer. I would add that spending several moments in the bathroom to the point of thigh numbness, delirium, exhaustion and dehydration — INTENTIONALLY, peeps — comes in a very close second. What makes it all worthwhile, I decided, is the injection of the milky propofol 18 hours later and trying to communicate the sensation that overcomes your brain, your actual brain, when the drug makes it light-speed ascent to your noggin.

Anesthesiologist [as she is lining up the injection with the port on my IV]: You’re going to notice a strange taste in your mouth.

Me: Really? Like strange how? [Watching the ports line up and hearing the click.]

Anesthesiologist: Um, just strange. Like metallic. [Pressing the plunger…]

Me [watching the fluid push into my line and thinking, ‘that wasn’t very descriptive for an anesthesiologist…’]: Woah. No taste. My brain. Yikes.

Anesthesiologist: What? Tingling?

Me: Ye … [It was tingling. Like spiders crawling all over it, but in a nice way. Nice pretty spiders.]

OUT. Procedure commences.

Apparently I dreamt about my oldest becoming a soccer player for Ireland’s celtic football club. He was very good and I was very proud. Apparently I told everyone about it.

The good news: I’m fine. The bad news: I do this again in three years. I have got to turn this frown upside-down. I have got to determine that I’m lucky to be here to hear the good news and get the milky propofol again.

. . . . .

Last weekend my family and I went to brunch at a cousin’s house. My dad came along and in the car I asked him about a housekeeper / domestic helper we had when I was a child. Her name was Betty Sortino and I believe she was one of The Most Stable forces in my young years in what was a fairly unpredictable home. Betty was short. I believe I would tower over her today with my massive 5’5″ frame. She was a proud Italian American. She had a boyfriend, Al, who would pick her up from her shifts at our home. She had shoulder-length black hair, veined with an occasional silver strand. She smoked a lot. She loved Hershey’s chocolate bars with almonds and she would share them with me, even though I wouldn’t want the almond. I would take it. That she shared her chocolate with me was huge. I didn’t get that from my mother; there was no sharing of her chocolate. Betty drank cold coffee or water. I would drink milk with my share of her Hershey’s. She would come over almost every day and often stay until my bedtime. She would sit at the foot of my bed and jiggle her leg, to let me know she was there and that I wasn’t alone. She would do this until I fell asleep. She would sing to me, “I Shot The Sheriff” in her rough smoker’s voice and I remember the heavy acidic, yet sweetness of her smoker’s breath lingering as she sang.

About that song, I remember asking Betty, “What does ‘dignity’ mean?”

She corrected me, “‘Dignity’? That’s not in the song…” I remember her contorting her face, searching her memory for the word in the song.

“Yes it is. ‘But I did not shoot the dignity…'” I recited back.

“DEP-u-ty… I did not shoot the dep-u-ty…” she said back to me. “The deputy sheriff. He didn’t shoot the deputy sheriff, but he did shoot the sheriff.”

“Oh. But what does ‘dignity’ mean?” I asked.

She blushed and looked down. I remember this as clear as day. She blushed and said, “It means your virtue. Your parts of you that make you special. Who you are and how people know you… You protect that.” She indicated my heart and my body, using her hands to float around and surround my physical space.

I was confused. But I remembered it.

My father said Betty was several years older than my mother. I don’t remember her that way. I remember her as youthful and vibrant. Present and current. She knew Eric Clapton songs for Pete’s sake. My mother would’ve thought Eric Clapton was perhaps an obscure 14th century playwright.

Betty stopped working for us, probably when I turned 11 or 12. There was no issue or rift. I just remember her not being there any more. I missed her. Then about two years later we moved.

My grand father died several years later, in 1989 I believe. We traveled back to Buffalo for the funeral. It was a hard season for my mother as she had lost her aunt, her mother and her father all within 18 months or so of each other. I heard from a relative that Betty came to the funeral. She asked for me and my family. I didn’t know she was there and so I didn’t see her. I would have loved to have seen her that day, or I would like to think that I would have loved to have seen her. At 21 – 22, I was a pretty bitter person. I was focused on my studies and hell bent on getting on with my life. I’d taken what amounted to a couple years off from college (although I took classes part-time to keep me in the system) and I was very anti-my parents at that point. I do remember someone telling me she asked for me and I do remember feeling regret I missed her. Whether I would have connected all the dots as to her huge contribution to my life, I don’t know. I connect them now though. Betty Sortino was an angel. She was sent from somewhere to show me how to share, that adults can be calm and that simple constancy does matter.

In summary, I’m going to write more, not care about what anyone thinks (even though the opinion was innocuous) and just keep at it. Life is too short to get caught up in stupid thinking and there are more than enough stars to handle any crap I end up putting out there.

Thank you.

 

Emotional Socialism: “Let it Go”

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I have some really smart friends on Facebook. While I will post the occasional cat meme, I am blessed with cogent debates about things that matter to me. My primary interest in life is what I call “Advocacy of the Self.”

Which to me means to live life with health, awareness and self-regard while also considering others. It’s not always easy. I stumble a lot.

Today, I opine on the harm of “Let it Go,” our new emo-national slogan.

I don’t know the slightest thing about the movie “Frozen.” Nor do I know the lyrics of “Let it Go” and obviously, I have no clue about the plot line and the song’s meaning (having three boys, the youngest of whom is 11 will ensure that I will never see a female-geared animated film).

I prefer this version of the film:

The November 2014 issue of Psychology Today dedicated its cover to “Let It Go.”

I posted on my Facebook wall a blog post written about “Letting Go of ‘Letting Go’.” My appreciation of the post was found in the penultimate sentence, when the writer gave herself permission to essentially take her time in “letting go” of things:

My new catchphrase is, “Let go of your need to let go, pay attention to what is happening now, and life will move on, you cannot stop it.”  Not as pithy as “Hang in there, baby,” but much more useful.

Somewhere along the evolution to our current emotional pop culture schema, we have been told that anger is bad. No. It’s not. Anger is a strong emotion, and it often tells us that something is wrong with our world. When anger morphs into violence or self-harm, then it’s dangerous, but as its own organic thing, anger is extremely valuable, useful and healthy. It tells us to be aware, to be on the lookout and to plan for survival. This concept of “Let it Go” in order to avoid anger, reminds me of valium. Be angry, allow it. Let it motivate you to a healthier place (but that takes guts). Just don’t be a dick to other people because of it (it’s so much easier to act out than to go within isn’t it?). I’m guilty of that.

Even giving ourselves permission to Let Go of Letting Go of things, reminds me of a Escher Drawing or a hall of mirrors. I suppose the mantra I used to have, “Fuck it” is the same thing. It never worked for me. I had a friend who said it all the time and her adult life has been much more chaotic and disturbed because to me, in retrospect, she lacked the interest in navel gazing. I’ve always been interested in what motivates us.

So “Fuck it” doesn’t work.

It begs “Fuck what?”

Fuck that. The thing that’s bugging you. Fuck it. Throw it in the trash.

Okay. Now what?

Live your life. Don’t connect the dots.

What?

Connecting the dots only makes trouble. Trust me.

But what if what happened to me shows up in others ways? Have I learned from what was bugging me?

Who knows.

What if it happens again?

Then you haven’t learned.

So then what then?

Learn from it.

But you told me to Fuck it. To let it go, to move on… But it happened again.

Who did?

You did. I did. We decided together. To fuck it… move on. But here we are.

Here YOU are. You’re supposed to go through it again, apparently.

But I don’t want to.

Then you need to learn from it.

What does that mean? To learn from it?

To process it, examine it. To look at it, take it apart, smell it, hold it up to the light and other things –people, stories, patterns, experiences– in your life, stretch it out, throw it against a wall, rinse it out and leave it in the sun to dry. Accept it. Take it in. Try it with a nice cabernet or maybe a broiled salmon and dill sauce. And then see if it comes back or if you’ve processed it and you have had your fill of that.

Then what?

Well, you won’t know until you know, you know?

Huh?

Regardless of whether you accept it, you do have to go on. You can keep looping, wearing that same thing all over town, saying the same thing, all the time about the same thing, or you can accept it, eat it with some cabernet, as suggested and see what happens. Because LGO: Life Goes On. Look, you have two choices: keep looping or accept it so you take it in as a part of your reality and then let it go. You can’t let go of what you’ve never accepted and denied in the first place. Right?

No.

What?

Well, I can fight it.

That sounds familiar. Sure, fighting what is. Fighting, denying your reality. Do you like gravity?

What?

Or the sun? Do you like the sun?

I like certain parts of gravity, that it keeps me from floating away, but I don’t like what it’s done to my boobs or that it’s given me arm flags.

But that’s not how it works.

What?

Gravity. You don’t get to like just parts of it. You have to accept all of it. Look, accepting it doesn’t mean you LIKE it. But so far, if you don’t accept all of it, you’re denying all of it.  How’s that worked for you so far?

Not great. My arms still wave. I could get surgery, I suppose.

WHAT? Are you daft? You know you will die one day, right?

Yes. I do. But I don’t like it.

Don’t like what? Death? Who does. But do you accept it?

Well, I have no choice.

Yes, do you.

What?

You have a choice, all the time. You can accept this is how it is, or you can by all means: deny it. Because it’s worked so well for you so far, so, by all means keep doing it.

What?

Keep denying. Or … accept it, process it and learn from it.

But isn’t that wallowing? That processing and learning?

No. Wallowing is wallowing. Processing and learning are processing and learning. Wallowing is like … maybe just as bad as saying “fuck it.”

Hmm. I guess I didn’t process it. I guess I wallow.

Do you loop?

What?

Loop. You know, repeat the same story? To yourself, whomever will listen, the cat? That’s wallowing. You’re just blah blah blah… mew mew mew, but no real action or acceptance?

Yes. Definitely. I’ve done that. But not about my arms.

You just thought you’d be fit and trim and perky-boobed until you were dead at 90? That gravity would just keep your body on the Earth but not pull your chin along with it? You do know your chin IS part of your body… so are your boobs. So are those difficult challenges in your life you keep seeing in different clothes.

I didn’t really learn from it. I still experience the same people in different iterations, I still fall for the same stupid stuff. I still have these things happening to me.

Well… Does it hurt?

Yes.

Then fuck it or accept it. This is about physics, Newton’s cradle, emotion-style: “Fuck it” is a kick upward. And what goes up must come down. The other, acceptance is a pull in. Per physics, once you take it in and allow it, it can only do one thing: go away.

What if it’s anxiety related?

Breathe. Process through what has you twitching and all the while, remember to breathe.

But isn’t that “staying in the moment”?

Good catch. Sometimes it is. Sometimes that “living in the moment” shit can cause serious confusion.

Right. Because if I stay “in the moment” in which I’m freaking, then logic would dictate that I would stay there. So then what??

When that happens, breathe it out. Take a look of what’s around you, assess if you are in danger or are actually threatened, and see if you can breathe yourself to the Next Moment — the one where you can rest and know you’re really OK.

People don’t like to hear us complain all the time, so we feel a need to put on a pretty face, to “fake it until we make it,” as they say. To get arm flag surgery. My jury is still out on the value of “fake it until you make it.” Sometimes bootstrapping and moving on is really the answer because staying and sifting through ashes and destruction makes no sense. Other times, if we don’t take an assessment of what the hell burned down around us, we are doomed to revisit it.

Sifting through emotional stuff is a personal experience, even if we all share it — like 9/11. We all experienced it, but we all have our own reactions and everyone has a different rate of distillation. As illustrated through the scary visit to my brain above, the answer really is acceptance to what is. (Another catchphrase.)  What might take you a couple hours to accept that what’s bugging you as not just a fleeting phase, could take someone else six months or six years. That what is bugging them is major — to them (often it snags on a deep wound they themselves don’t quite have their finger on — and that the rest of us who suggest, encourage, propose and ultimately urge people to move the hell on is coming from not a place of love but one of exasperation.

Sometimes “let it go” is akin to a request I used to hear from my father (sorry Dad) often as a child, “Oh, geez, come ON… just… Will ya? Will ya let it go? Will ya?!” I can not tell you how many times that phrase and its essence, its urge to get the hell over yourself, was uttered. In the white-collar 70s, emotions were verboten. My memories of my parents are that they were often like George Costanza’s: often talking over each other, lots of rushing and not much empathy or patience for one another. I often heard “Will ya?!” from both of them toward each other and to me upon expressions of what was considered to be “harping on” and looping of emotional tapes.

I remember as I aged and got married and had children of my own, that when my mother made her frequent requests of me for a “real and kind woman-to-woman relationship” between us, I would have to (there was no way around it in my book because real means real) approach her alcoholism and how it affected me and our relationship. To me, this wasn’t a new friend I met at the bookstore (as I think she wanted to pretend our relationship was). This was my mother.

Inevitably, upon her numerous often heavy-handed requests for a relationship and my eventual broach of our past, she would groan. Often she would tell me to move on, to just let it go. It was often mere breaths before “Will ya?!” flew from her gut, through her duodena, up her esophagus, pass her tonsils, glide over her tongue, and press out her lips. She wanted no part of that part of the relationship whereas to me, getting real was what it was all about between us if there was ever a future. She never apologized. Not once. Often I was told that I was too emotional or that my expectations were unreasonable or that she was sorry she “wasn’t the perfect mother…” which was often a slap against any sentiment of mine wishing that she were a healthier person. That’s where my anger always stepped in. I would become enraged and she would patronize me. So I didn’t accept her as she was and she pushed me to let it go. We were the definition of a Newton’s cradle, the balls smacking back and forth again and again and just keeping time.

Often, when we suggest / plead / beg / urge / insist to others that they let it go, I have found that it’s to benefit the requestor (witness) and not the person going through the gauntlet. Witnessing someone go through the juggernaut subconsciously stirs up all sorts of feelings of vulnerability and no one likes that.  So they tell them to get over it, or let it go or move on. A healthy empathetic response is to see that person’s release and simply hold a space for him, to let that person emote.

Often, we want to stop this stuff. It makes us feel all oogey inside. Our stomachs turn or our throats seize up and then our eyes well up. We don’t like that. “Now you’re going to make me cry…” (How often has someone been shamed by another person who blames the first person for making her cry… It’s okay people! It’s just salt water and emotions! You WILL survive this! I promise!) Case in point: I was told by my therapist that when people / witnesses reach out to very upset person with a hug or a tissue to stop or put a pause on the grief. That tissue or hug isn’t necessarily empathy, sometimes it’s a repellant.

It seems that this concept of pushing people to get past things has become something of a national pastime.

One of my friends on that FB thread said “Let it Go” reminded her of our obsessive cultural pursuit of happiness. Whatever happened to just letting shit happen and giving each person his or her own pace and time and method for dealing with life’s ups and downs? Whatever happened to contentment? Why must we be HAPPY all the time? It’s exhausting.

As the thread progressed, I had decided that “Let It Go” has created some strange form of emotional socialism. That everyone needs to be emotionally dressed in muted gray or beige and that equanimity (which to me is like an opiate of the masses because let’s be honest: sometimes shit sucks) is ranked with godliness.

I used to really believe in equanimity. I used to drink that Kool-Aid. I even wrote about it. But over the years, and since my mother’s and my father-in-law’s deaths and watching my sons grow up and all the emotions that has stirred up, I think equanimity works best for the monks in the caves and mountaintops.

You can’t Live Life, in all its richness if you simply let everything go. You cheat yourself out of lessons, out of experiences, and out of triumphs when you do that. You rush acceptance. In fact, you skip right over acceptance when you are pushed, per someone else’s emotional deficits or clock, to let it go.

We can’t let go of anything we’ve never truly accepted. And even then, even after we accept it, we still have to get to know it, this new awareness, a little better. Try it on for a few days. Take it for rides in the car. Go shopping with this new awareness. See how it interacts with our friends and family. See how we feel with it as we rest at night. See if it tugs at us as we try to sleep or if it simply lets US be.

I hope this post didn’t suck. I’ve already let it go.

Thank you.

 

 

Brushing Away the Night

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Grass Oil by Molly Field:

The image in this post sums up how I’m feeling today after weeks of cold, snowy days and punchy children home from school. Check out this blog, let his images sweep you away. If just for a breath or two.

Originally posted on The Aerial Horizon:

Brushing away the nightAs the day brushes away the night, the paths we have left behind us vanish into the ether leaving faint fragments, memories, of our toils and the journeys we embarked upon with a sense of permanence…We leave our marks, not as loud and lasting echoes, but as temporal murmurs in flashes of color in the heavens.

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Dear Stella Artois — When A Chalice isn’t a Chalice

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Dear Stella Artois,

When you start your commercial with the phrase, “We take great care with what goes into our chalice …” please know that a chalice is often a poetic metaphor for a woman’s uterus (anyone who’s read or seen the DaVinci Code can tell you that). Why can’t you just say “beer”?

Though your intention to “stop those journeys” of women in developing countries whose aggregate time is estimated at 200 million hours a day to collect (drinking — my assumption, not stated) water “so they could start new ones of their own” (per Matt Damon in your ad) is noble, the hashtag (an unfortunate blend of technology and idioms which has woven its way into our collective first-world consciousness) #BuyaLadyaDrink fails.

It fails precipitously.

For me, it brings me (I’m in that demographic with the money you seek) back to the days of Frank Sinatra when women were typified in movies, songs and other media in the 50s and 60s “broads” and “dames,” “tramps,” “dragons,” “witches” and worse. When “buying a lady a drink” was the first and easiest way to get her out of her pants. (Now these monikers are even far less charitable as females are routinely referred to “hos” and “bitches” and a slew of other unpleasantries.)

It brings us back When a woman’s “rack” and “build” and “gams” (were) more important than her intellect, accomplishments, efforts and virtue. Instead of empowering women your pitiful hashtag alienates, objectifies and creates yet again a one-way directive of getting a woman intoxicated and filling her uterus with your great care.

And Matt Damon? Wha—? You’ve got four daughters! One of them is named Stella. Is this the link to the beer? Didn’t you think about the message of “Buy a Lady a Drink”?

Sigh.

“Stella Artois.” It sounds as though it’s named after a woman, but it’s not. It “was named Stella from the star of Christmas, and Artois after Sebastian Artois, founder of the brewery.”(Wiki)

Stella Artois was also known as “wife beater” beer in the U.K. back in 2007 because patrons of a local pub who drank Stella Artois exclusively became belligerent. When the pub owner switched to another beer, the belligerence subsided. Your beer is 5.2% alcohol by volume, which means it has a higher alcohol concentrate per serving, hence the angry pub patrons per that article.

I don’t believe you, Stella Artois. I don’t believe you solely want to empower women in developing nations when you want to “buy a lady a drink” in first-world nations. With a tagline like that, I believe you just want to get ladies drunk; just change it to “Get a Lady Drunk” or “Make a Lady See the Stars.”

I won’t go into all the things that historically go wrong when women are “bought” drinks. Nor will I buy your chalice; I will simply donate to http://water.org — cut out the middle “man,” and go straight to the source and spare my cabinets your chalice.

I will thank you for this though: alerting me to the water.org campaign. You win there.

water.org

water.org

Thank you.