Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!!!

It feels like just a few weeks ago that I was writing last year's New Years Eve post. As I review previous year's posts I begin to see a pattern. It's as if each year embodies a specific aspect of my life journey. There's always one or two things that rise to the surface as the most significant discovery or lesson for that year. When I review the events of 2014 I find two things rise to the surface of my thoughts.

1. Toxic people.
2. I seem to always be re-inventing myself.

As for the first, toxic people, there always seems to be plenty of them in my life. Or more accurately, TRYING to be in my life. I'm happy to report I have become much better at recognizing them and setting boundaries. But I find that when they happen to be members of my family, it's a little tougher. Well, a LOT tougher.

This year I found it necessary to draw a line in the sand with my own child. After nearly a decade of trying to rebuild our very damaged relationship, she decided to revert to old behavior and I had to say no to her in such a way that I don't know if we'll ever be close again or not. It was a very painful and difficult decision, but I have reached that point in my life where I simply have to put my own well-being first for a change. She is 30 years old and you can't help someone who is not interested in helping themselves. They are a destructive and selfish force that will drain every bit of energy you have, and then blame you for their own self-created misery. I know there are those who will disagree with me, and that's okay. I hope they never have a person in their life that is so toxic that they change their minds and decide I'm right after all.

As for the second, I once again find myself learning a new skill. I enjoy learning. I always have. And throughout my life I have often taught myself whole new skill sets for whole new careers. Sometimes as a matter of necessity, sometimes as a matter of interest. I have done this so many times that I have grown to recognize a learning pattern that leads to what I call "The Wave."

First, you have to decide what you want to learn, and if it happens to be something you know little or nothing about, you flounder around for a good long time. When you don't know what you don't know, you don't even know what questions to ask or what information to seek out, so you just start casting around and trying different routes until you find something that feels right. Then you have to just buckle down and start learning. Initially, the learning curve is huge and rapid because there's just so much new information to soak up and you often find yourself wondering if you're learning the right stuff because it doesn't necessarily make sense or fit together in a logical way. But, if you stick with it long enough, you will eventually start to feel that wave.

The Wave is a sensation of being pulled along, like you've finally figured out how to use the paddles and get the boat going in the right direction so the current can help you. That's when all the random pieces of the puzzle start to fit together and you start building momentum toward your goal. You can see the goal and it's starting to feel like you can actually reach it. It's a great feeling because it feels "right" in a way that's hard to explain unless you've experienced it.

The big mystery goal I set for myself this year? I have always wanted to write adventure fiction. You know, stuff like "Lord of the Rings" or "Harry Potter." For as long as I can remember, I have been utterly fascinated with archeology, mythology, and ancient religious doctrine. I have wiled away many hours of my life imagining fantastical stories about why Neanderthals drew animals on cave walls or what the writers of mythology or the Bible were really trying to describe, and these contemplations have always evolved into some kind of adventure story in my mind. But I never knew how to get the stories out of my head and onto paper in such a way that others might find it worthwhile to read.

This year I decided to do something about it. As always, I stocked up on "How to" books and started studying, but that wasn't enough, so I also joined an online writers boot-camp founded by a successful published author and took the brave step of putting my efforts in front of other writers for critique. The experience has been rewarding and educational and in the final months of 2014 I began to feel that coveted Wave.

I have rearranged my workspace so that I can easily transition back and forth between the crafting I enjoy so much and the writing that is quickly becoming a passion. I even carry a stack of index cards in my lunch box to jot down notes about ideas that come to me while I am at work. Some of my co-workers even seem to enjoy hearing about the crazy ideas I have at times, often inspired by something as simple as a stray twig that just happens to look like it's covered with eyes. My brain takes that odd twig and puts it together with some juicy bit of history or archeology or mythology and spins it into something fun.

So, 2014 will be the year I remember taking the first baby-steps toward a lifelong dream. I look forward to seeing how far the Wave carries me in 2015....

Happy New Year, everyone!!! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

That's your shadow on the wall.....

I have a tattoo on my arm that holds special meaning in my mind. At first glance, others recognize it as the Egyptian Winged Globe encircling the Eye of Ra, but for me it holds significance in another way. That tattoo was my very first tattoo and I chose it specifically for it's ability to hold a variety of "reminder messages." It reminds me of dreams I've had, books I've read, and deeply spiritual insights I've experienced throughout my life.

One message in particular has a way of rising to the surface at key moments in my life, and this is one of those moments. It is the message of the all-seeing eye. It means both that you cannot hide from God/Universe and that you cannot hide from yourself. One way or another, life is going to bring you face to face with yourself and you're going to have to make a choice: Do you want to look or do you want to look away? But if you look away, life is going to bring you back to the mirror yet again; usually in some more painful and much more difficult way to ignore.

I've been playing a game with myself. I've been pretending that I can be normal and live a normal life, just like everyone else. I've been pretending that I can find a loving partner, work and pay my bills and someday retire like a normal person and quietly tick away the moments of my life baking cookies for my grandchildren until it's my turn to return to the Source of all that is. I've been pretending I can hide from who and what I am and avoid the task I know is mine to achieve, because it just feels too difficult and I'm tired and wounded. And the whole time I've been playing this game of hide-and-seek with myself, I've known it was futile. I've known that someday I was going to have to step up to the plate and be who I am, because that's my shadow on the wall.

The shadow I refer to is the current events occurring in my life. Like walls closing in around me, they are driving me toward that path I've been trying so hard to avoid. I can close my eyes or look the other way. I can dig in my heels or run the opposite direction. I can purposely make choices that will take me away from that path, but it marches toward me relentlessly none the less and fighting it has become harder than just rolling with it.

There comes a time when you just have to stop trying to run away from your shadow and learn to dance with it instead.

Tango, anyone?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Thoughts on having Baggage.....

 "You have a lot of baggage."

I hear that a lot. Usually accompanied with a scrunched-up facial expression that implies disgust, as if having baggage is a character flaw or personal failure...something I should be rejected and punished for.

But you know what? Baggage isn't a character flaw or a personal failure. It's a scar. It's an accumulation of painful lessons learned the hard way that make a person extra cautious when making new choices.

Baggage happens when a person trusts too much and was badly burned, even punished...for being a trusting person. And you get even more baggage when the next person comes along and says "You shouldn't distrust me just because of what THEY did, I'm not them...." which makes you feel guilty so you open your heart and trust them........and then they burn you too.

Baggage is what you get when you love the wrong people, very deeply, and try too hard to work it out.

Baggage is what happens when you try to stay strong.....for too long......instead of just jumping ship at the first sign of trouble....or the second....or the forty-fifth....or the hundred and sixteenth.....because you believe that is what Love does........

Baggage is the result of having people you should be able to trust; like parents, siblings, spouses, and friends....repeatedly yank the rug out from under your feet and then tell you it's your own fault because you're too trusting.

But there's a positive aspect of baggage too. A blessing that comes from baggage that it seems people often fail to realize. 

Having baggage means you have gained valuable insights that you will never forget. A depth of understanding about people and life that many fail to even realize exists.

Baggage means having the ability to be compassionate toward others because you understand how a person can do all the wrong things with the very best of intentions and that making mistakes is simply that; you made a mistake. It doesn't mean you're a total failure as a human being. Knowing that makes it very easy to forgive others when they make a mistake, too.

Baggage means you will never, ever, take anyone for granted. It means when you find a real friend, you appreciate them. It means when you find a partner who's heart is big enough to love you anyway, because they can see your big heart and will do what it takes to dismantle the walls; you will do everything in your power to show them how much you value them....every single day for the rest of your life.

Baggage means you remember your mistakes and will make every effort to not make that mistake again.

Baggage has the ability to drive a person to trust God as they have never trusted before, and that trust in God becomes the center of their life.....because God is the one being they know for certain they can trust without ever needing to wonder about it....

Baggage means you have accepted responsibility for the choices you made and are taking steps to make better choices; which means pissing people off sometimes because you're not going to just leap without looking and make it easy for yet another person to sucker-punch you.

......Or, if you're like me and a very primitive, instinctual part of your brain was damaged when you were two years old and no one noticed when you were a child, and no one listened to you as an adult when you questioned what you were experiencing, so you spent 38  years of your life living in a world that was nothing like what everyone told you it should be like, which was very confusing.....while being jerked around by every con-artist who came along because of it......not to mention the abusers you grew up with that you didn't have any choice about.........You learn to question everything 5 or 6 times, check your notes, and then look again just to be sure....before you make ANY decision....

Is that baggage or is that just taking responsibility for my own life and doing what I need to do, what I MUST do, if I'm ever going to create a better life for myself?

It's a glitch in the wiring, not a personal failure. Failure would have been to learn about the glitch and then use it as an excuse to keep making the same mistakes.....instead of doing what I have done; which is to spend every moment of every day since the moment I found out 10 years ago, taking steps to heal myself to the best of my ability and with very little support from others, because they just want to focus on the baggage.....