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Archive for the ‘reflection’ Category

We spent April Vacation week in Washington D.C.  We planned everything, I bought books and activity pages so the children would learn and have fun at the same time and even with all the planning we still only saw a small part of Washington, but if by some miracle we had seen everything I still wouldn’t be able to tell much about it because in my mind it all seems like a blur.

I remember walking all over the city, running to catch busses and trains and cursing the fact that the Capital is on a hill (hence Capital Hill) and the city builders penchant for lots and lots of steps.  I remember being caught in a subway door with my mother and two younger children behind me, too afraid to move for fear the door would shut and the train would leave them behind.  I remember waking up at an ungodly hour, 4:45 am, to meet our state representative at the capitol and meeting two students I had been a substitute teacher for in Uxbridge.  Now, I see kids from school all the time around town, but in Washington?  On the plus side, I love these girls and their family is so nice and it really made the day so much better.    

The highlight I’m sure for these girls and certainly for  my own children was not getting to sit on the floor of Congress and listen to Representative Neil speak (my kids fell asleep), but the fact that sometime during our representative’s talk my 18 year old daughter felt the best way to deal with my 9 year old aggravating his sister was to tie the sleeves of his shirt together, behind his back, in a double knot!  So as NORMAL families were following the interns to get their picture taken with Congressman Neil and my husband was pretending not to know us, I was trying to get my son’s sleeves unknotted.  The kids were giggling hysterically and I have to admit so was I.  After the knot was navigated, I gave my adult daughter a stern look and went to smack her lightly on the arm but missed and accidently hit my youngest in the face who cried all the way into the Great Hall.  Yes it was a banner mother moment.

We dragged the kids through museums that even bored me.  In the American History museum, the dresses were pretty, the 1950’s subway was cool (you could sit and watch people talking on a subway,  “sit” being the optimum word here).  I probably would have gotten more out of the National Museum for the American Indian (shouldn’t that be Native American?) if we had more time, but I have to say lunch was beyond Amazing!  Maple Brined Turkey Breast with black cherry chutney and sautéed pea pods with wild mushrooms and onions.  For dessert a chocolate dipped macaroon with chunks of coconut as big and thick as a dime. Fantastic!  I’d go back there just for the food. 

The most well received museum by the children was the Natural History Museum where the kids oohed and ahhed over bugs, butterflies, dinosaurs and mammals.  Somehow I got separated from our large group and wandered around the museum by myself and amid the hundreds of people it suddenly seemed extremely quiet.  I wasn’t talking.  Had I been talking that much?  I guess I had.  I had been the teacher on duty all week, quizzing and teaching in some attempt to engage my tired children and ensure they came away with something from our Nation’s Capital. 

So let’s recap, I am an out of shape, too lenient mother, who is bored by trains and machines but easily distracted by pretty dresses. In addition, I am a loquacious know-it-all who likes real, good, food. It was remarkable to find silence in the middle of so many people.  My mind is always running; what needs to be said next, what needs to be done soon, where are the kids now and do we have them all.  It just keeps coming.  The trip to Washington D.C. is a lot like my own mind.  Crazy, involved, and nonstop, but underneath the chaos there were moments, soft moments, touching moments and moments where seeds of ideas were planted and new thoughts will hopefully bloom.  So yes I am all those things stated above, but I am also a lover of wisdom, a person who chooses to believe in people and someone who approaches life with a good dose of humor and a whole lot of love.  My mind may be as chaotic as Washington DC but my heart is open and my soul is waiting for the next enlightening experience.  It was a really full week. 

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I have not been depressed for a month and a half, not at all.  I was exultant when I sent my query to my first agent, disappointed in myself for the mistakes I found in the first three chapters AFTER I sent said query, crazy stressed with too much to do and not enough time to do it in, regretful when I said something stupid, proud that I followed my heart, exhausted while making untold batches of Easter cookies, rejuvenated at yoga and peaceful with an inner knowing that where I am is where I am supposed to be, but depression has been ignored and turned away as it stood knocking on the door the one time it tried to darken my front steps.

A therapist I once worked with told me that depression is inclined to become a habit.  It is the “go to” emotion when we don’t allow our bodies to feel other feelings like anger, frustration, disappointment, or sadness because society frowns upon negative expression.  It is where we find ourselves when we refuse the experiences of happiness, joy, exuberance, or contentment because we believe we don’t deserve them or that they are too fickle to be depended upon.  Depression is the black hole where all our other emotions are obscured because we don’t like them, fear them or distrust them. 

After writing 7-8 hours a day for close to six weeks straight I came to a screeching halt after I pressed the send button.  I will have to wait six weeks for a reply or lack thereof to move on to the next step.  I was exuberant with the knowledge that I had listened to my heart’s calling and I was completely confident that eventually my mental follow through will lead me to where I am supposed to be.  Then I recalled how spiritual journeys are never easy and thought, “oh boy, this is just the next beginning.  I am in so much trouble.”  I then went crazy; between premenopausal insanity, too many commitments at one time and a transition I should’ve seen coming I was flooded with emotions that sent me out of control for three days straight, (a funny story for another day.)

Monday morning I woke up and everything was back in place.  I made time for yoga.  I went organic grocery shopping, washed the kitchen floor, cleaned the bathroom and did laundry.  In the afternoon I got the kids off the bus and played with them, I made a balanced supper, listened to their tales of the day and read to them before I kissed them good night. Finally I have time to fit in those other parts of my life.  Ok so maybe I haven’t found the dining room table yet but there’s time now.  It’s not that writing is totally on hold.  I still have corrections to make, new query letters to draft, three blogs a month to write and a story to abridge for my youngest daughter’s class but it wasn’t until the pell-mell writing jag was done  that I was able to see how imbalanced I had been and how much I liked not only that time but this time. 

My plan is to be a writer (preferably a writer who brings in some sort of revenue) and if this is my plan then this will be my life.  I will start a new book, research, begin the writing, get to the point where I will need to finish within a time frame, and then send the copy off to the agent, publisher or editor and wait.  My life will follow this pattern of planning, research, writing, writing like crazy, send, wait, repeat and honestly, I adore every single part of the process.  At first my mind reeled at the sudden change of pace but then I stopped long enough to embrace the time of rejuvenation, the time to get myself, my life and my family back in balance.  This “down time” is not a break.   It is an essential part of my writing process.  It is where I reexamine my spiritual beliefs, reconnect with who I am and open myself up to new lessons.  Those lessons change, morph and become the themes in my novels, and lead me to the next story which begins the cycle all over again.  I’m in a new place right now and this place excludes depression and embraces all those other emotions that come along in this life.  It is exciting, crazy, and joyful along with sad, disappointing and frustrating, but if I allow myself to feel the bad I also allow myself to experience the good.

Have I kicked the depression habit for good?  I don’t know.  I guess only time will tell but when I look back at the last six weeks I feel light.  I feel free.  Like the wings of my life have taken a huge beat, filled with air and are ready to fly.   It’s exciting to be on the edge of anticipation.  My senses are awake.  I am present and trying to keep my eyes and heart open for the next lesson and the next story.  So listening to my heart paid off.  It brought me to this moment and for now I am content.  Granted in four weeks with no response I will be a total nutjob, but for right now I am blessed with peace, a sense of place and the satisfaction that when you listen to your heart everything eventually falls to where it is supposed to be, including depression, outside and alone on the cold doorstep.  Yeah!

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You know how a parent teaches their child a skill say, tying their shoe and then steps back to let them practice to see if they grasped the concept?  Yeah watch how my spiritual teachers did that to me. 

I have been ignoring my lessons quiet well for about a month, like so forcefully ignoring them that I have taken thinking off my “to do” list.  Last week I forgot my daughter’s birth date.  (It’s not like I wasn’t there!)  The nurse asked for her date of birth so she could answer my question and I couldn’t bring it up in my mind, couldn’t even remember the month, the season!  Presently brain activity is reserved for eating and breathing.

About the only thing I have been working on is my book the second one, not the first one.  Yes I have two books but the first one is a big blob that needs a massive edit where the second one is riding on the writing coattails of the first and is much better as far as writing structure.   I have been working on it for two weeks straight eight hours a day which is probably why my brain is limping through life.   I haven’t worked since before vacation and I was ok with that.  This week I was about five pages away from finishing and I got called to work Tuesday and Wednesday.  Ok, the bank account is getting low so this is good…but I’m five pages away.  The class was great, a fantastic bunch of 6th graders.  The only problem is that some time in the beginning of the year I made a sarcastic remark that sounded mean and small minded and whether the helper teacher doesn’t like me because of that incident or I feel guilty and just think she doesn’t like me I’m not sure but that was a weighing on my emotions.  You would think I would have picked up on the nagging gut.  What a wonderful opportunity to work through past mistakes and be a better human right?  Of course not, the habit of ignoring my spiritual lessons was my best friend by now and I focused on moving through the day.  By the second day I was aware this was an opportunity sent by my teachers and while I tried to connect I just didn’t remember to bring my whole self to work.  I was surprised when I didn’t get called on Thursday because I knew I had not completed the lesson.

There was this one student whom I’ve worked with before who has always seen the negative side of things.  When he was grumbling about one thing or another I called to him and said, “you do know about the law of attraction don’t you?”

            “What’s that?”

            “It’s when positive thoughts and attitude bring positive consequences and negative thoughts bring negative consequences.”

            “Is that some sort of religion thing because I don’t believe in that junk.”

            “Not really it’s more like a practice.”

            “Nah,” he dismissed me.

            It would have been so nice if I got the hint right there. 

Since I have banned any spiritual growth, I have also been ignoring my February copy of Yoga Journal.  I just couldn’t get into the articles and figured it was like a cooking magazine.  A lucky break to find one with a number of good recipes and the rest of the publications are just adequate.  When I found myself completely out of reading material I picked up the journal and found an article on karma.  I skimmed over most of the article (because yes I’m stubborn) but lingered over the part about how a positive attitude brings positive karma.  The message that we can affect our circumstances with the way we think about them.  So you would think I would have picked up the messages from the powers that be right?  Let’s bring back that positive attitude, girl!  Nope.

 So by now my teachers have lost their patience with me and have decided to let me hang myself while they watch.  I’m with a few girlfriends and we are talking and I was an idiot.  I said some stupid obnoxious things.  Let’s just say if the law of attraction is true my son is going to grow up to rob grocery stores and the kids down the street are going to set fire to my house.  I only needed to get to my car to realize I had been dreadful.  Ok you got my attention.  Unlike my other experience with guilt this time I knew right away what was going on (progress I guess).  I knew I needed to work through it and by morning it had coalesced into a real message. 

            If I want good things I need good thoughts.  If I want good karma I need a good attitude.  If I want to do good I have to be good.  Sometimes it’s hard to let go of all the craziness and worry of life.  My concern about my children’s struggles, my worry about money and failure.  They take over my mind and obscure the good things.  My desire to someday live the Right Path and become a person of truth is not some light form of entertainment to dawdle over when I’m bored.  It is a practice, a way of being that I asked to be trained in and it is important.   And while my guardians have patiently waited for me to get over my tantrum, I have run from the call. 

            Yes, I will meditate today.  Yes, I will remember that within the everyday patterns of life there is a higher calling.  This is why we are here, to push aside the distractions and focus on our spiritual growth so that someday we are not only worthy to stand in the Divine Light but are strong enough to turn around and bring one another into the Loving Energy as well.  I am so lucky that, despite my stupidly, the Universe has got my back.

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Ring, Ring

I’m a little behind.  I try to do three posts a month but this month between being sick, February vacation, and basically ignoring any bit of spiritual growth that might have transpired I feel like I have nothing to write about and now I am on the last few days trying to get all three posts in.  I almost gave up.  I almost said, “Oh well if I don’t have anything, who cares?  It doesn’t matter that I only have two posts for February?”  Then I remembered, I wrote 50 thousand words in a month.  If I can do that I can certainly make three posts in 29 days.  It’s funny how participating and accomplishing the Novel Writers Challenge has pushed me on in other things.  So I hunkered down and decided to write about writing.

You’ve heard of people who get “the call.”  You know those people that somehow know they are destined to be a nun, a priest, a reverend or something along those lines, but I think there are other calls.  We are called to do good, to eat well, to do something nice for someone else.  It seems to be less of a call and more of a force compelling one to do what some higher power wants you to do, even if that power is simply your very own heart.  My desire to write is more than something I do for entertainment.  I spend a lot of time trying to complete all the other things that need to be done before I sit down and write that sometimes I go for days or weeks without writing anything more than “milk and eggs” on the grocery list.   One day, as I was ignoring my heart’s ache for my word processing program, it sort of hit me straight on; It is absolutely ridiculous to NOT do what your heart and soul are calling you to do. 

There are days I wish I had a different calling, particularly when laundry is piling up around my ears.  For some cleaning the house cleans out the cobwebs of their mind, for others working out makes their bodies strong so they are better able to face the world, maybe some people nurture animals or children in order to fill their hearts and return love.   If I was called to work out or clean at least I would have a clean house or better body.  My call causes me to sit for hours on end, some days I forget to eat, others I manage to get a couple loads of laundry in, but when I write everything inside me falls into place.  Even a simple blog post gives me an afternoon of contentment that I carry around with me as I tackle the rest of my chores.   I write because it explores all the shadows inside me and brings them into the light.  Writing fills my soul so I can go on to nurture and give to others. 

Does everyone get a call?  I don’t know.  I do know my oldest daughter will complain when she hasn’t been able to sit and write for a while, even if it’s only a silly story just for fun.  If she goes too long her soul gets sad and cranky.  I’ve experienced my 8 year old’s frustration when the computer doesn’t cooperate and she can’t work on her latest story.  So I guess they either got the call or I infected them with my bug.  My husband who is a practical man literally gets strange calls on his cell phone from people who simply need a friend or a prayer.  I think it’s rather amazing that his calls are tailored to his literal nature where mine start out as soft whispers to my heart and then become agonizing screams of need if I ignore them for too long.  If the universe can actually make a cell phone ring it must be capable of sending out messages to more than just my family.

So what forms do your calls come in?  Are they soft like a spring breeze?  Or billboards on the highway?  Can they be ignored, or do they cause immense heartache when you don’t listen?  Do we shut them up with alcohol or food or distract ourselves from the screaming with TV and computer games?  The real question is why do we ignore them?  It’s like dieting I know I feel so much better when I eat healthy and yet I don’t.  I know I feel better when I go to yoga but I can barely make my one class a week.  Why do we ignore the very things that make us feel good and put us in balance?  Then again maybe it’s just me in the padded self-sabotage room and everyone else is out there doing fine.  I guess it’s normal to feel alone when something seems strange and out of the ordinary but then again, I got a call, so I guess I’m not as alone as I think I am.

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The Wiccan, despite multitudes of disciplines and practice styles, have one universal law; Do no harm.  The words look simple enough.  Do no harm to anyone.  We got that, right?  We know we shouldn’t hurt others, but the sentiment imparts so much more.  It’s not speaking only of physical harm but emotional and spiritual as well.  The law also includes other creatures, birds, animals, insects (do hornets count?) and so on.  It goes on to encompass the earth; do no harm to the environment, to the balance of nature, to the energy that made us all, and finally do no harm to ourselves.  Of course most of us don’t want to physically hurt ourselves but how many of us harm ourselves emotionally? Spiritually? 

Too often we hold ourselves back or are way too critical of who we are and what we do.  When I was 18 and pregnant I put up a solid brick wall between myself and my God.  For years I spiritually held myself back because of guilt.  I had gone against who I thought I was and just couldn’t forgive myself, so there was no way I was going to let God forgive me.  25 years later I still have difficulty forgiving myself for my mistakes

I am so keenly aware of my faults and readily dismissive of my attributes that sometimes the imbalance gets overwhelming and I find myself more inclined to see the negative.  Then someone comes along and insinuates either to me or my husband that I’m not organized enough, responsible enough, my house is not clean enough, I don’t work hard enough and clearly my amazing husband who deals with all my mess should step in and do something about it. He should demand my change and I find myself descending further into the black hole of self-condemnation.  I do way too much harm to myself.

I may not have the cleanest house, the most organized life, or the most successful children but I do know without a doubt what I do right.  I love.  I love my husband completely and totally for the man he is and the man he aspires to be.  I love each one of my children for their individual talents and personalities and I am emotionally available and present in their lives.   Mother Theresa states the path to God (Enlightenment) is to love others and calls every one of us to start in our own homes with our own families.  I tried it this weekend.  I stopped focusing on my inadequacies and turned my attention  back to loving my family.   Something changed, I don’t know if it was me or them or all of us but I felt more loved because I loved.  We played a game together as a family.  My husband and I walked into church hand in hand instead of him sprinting ahead while I herd the children from behind.  All because I stopped focusing on the negative within and focused on what I am good at giving, my love.

We can’t let our own insecurities and the criticism of others take away our greatest strengths.  So I will continue to completely and totally give my heart to my husband because he needs and deserves it.  I will listen to each one of my children even if it takes me away from something else I need to do and each one will know they are precious to me.  It is the one thing I am good at.  It is what I was born to do. 

I am done doing harm to myself.  I will do my best to be the best I can.  I will no longer push aside who I am to try to become a person someone else says I should be.   We all have a purpose in this life and we can only fulfill that purpose if we are who we are meant to be.  

When we deny the Master’s design we do harm.   

We do harm to ourselves because we force ourselves to be something we’re not, to our families because we are not the person they came to this earth to learn from  and to the world because if we don’t acknowledge and nurture our true selves how can we begin to know what we are meant to do?  “Do no harm” three simple words, calling me, challenging me to be…well…me.

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And I am back.  I wrote 50 thousand words in a month!  Well actually I wrote 25 thousand in 27 days and the last 25 in three and it was amazing!  So for the  month  of November I had been substituting at the middle school pretty much every day and every day I calculated how many words I was short.  I even did a math lesson on it.  I had to get creative.  I started writing on the weekends.  I started writing in the car, when someone else was driving of course.  I outlined and researched while waiting for the bus, watching karate, and observing gymnastics.  I planned dialogue while driving.  No I did not get into an accident. 

Then Thanksgiving came and I stalled.  I just couldn’t get into writing while we were away.  My goal was to have 30 thousand by the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  That would leave me 10 thousand for Monday and ten for Tuesday.  I’ve written ten thousand in a day. I could do it.  By Sunday I had 28,000 and it was midnight.  On Monday I was only at 35 thousand.  I had barely written 7 thousand words the whole day!  I wasn’t going to make it.  I was disappointed.  Then I was resolute.  No I wasn’t going to give up.  I set this goal and I was going to follow it through.

I stayed up until almost 2am on Monday and wrote like a mad woman all day Tuesday.  My husband was away so suppers were easy and the house was a mess and I wrote.  Surprisingly I was not as disorganized as I thought I would be.  The kids had clean laundry, breakfast and lunch were prepared every morning and aside from Chinese food on Monday and leftovers on Tuesday the kids were fed well, they were clean and went to school with matching clothes.  I even managed to do my daughter’s hair every morning. 

I was up every night until at least 1am and awake every morning at 5 and I wasn’t tired.  I was in the same position for three days straight living on coffee and Aleve and it felt great.  The story was amazing; the writing was satisfying and when I hit 50,000 words at 9:20 am on Wednesday morning I screamed, texted my daughter and slapped the table.  I had done it.  I uploaded my novel to www.nanowrimo.org and was never so happy or proud to see the little purple bar declare me a winner.  I had set a goal and did it.  I just might have what it takes to become a writer after all.  With determination, hard work and an absolute love for my craft I am going to make this dream come true.  I am going to continue to build the foundation underneath my dream and one day I am going to be an author.  This is where I’m going.  This is where I’ll be.  This is who I am. 

You can go to www.nanowrim.org and check out the talent and humor of hundreds of writers who were also crazy enough to write their hands off.  If you find Mrs. W, that’s me, you can check out my synopsis and read an exerpt from my book.  Maybe next year you’ll decide to join the fun.  I might just be crazy enough to do it again. 

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Occasionally I am asked to puppy-sit my ex husband’s dog.  Why do I puppy-sit for my ex?  Well with a lot of soul searching and meditation on my part, counseling for both of us and a bit of medication on his part we found a way to get along for the sake of our daughter.  We built a friendship and worked very hard at being kind to each other and at the height of that he asked me to take care of his yorkie because she was diabetic and he didn’t trust anyone to take care of her, after all his children were all still alive how bad could it be? 

After an incident involving our second son our relationship was strained and I have to admit that I was distrustful of his friendship when, after 3 years of supporting each other, he had been so quick to accuse me of manipulating him the whole time.  I was hurting over his irate words and angry with myself for believing he had changed when his behavior had clearly indicated differently. 

Again, for the sake of our wonderful daughter we built back a tenuous civil relationship but I admit I never trusted or confided in him the way I had in the past.  Somewhere along the line he decides he is going to take our daughter for a weeklong trip to Disney.  He chooses September because the rates are good and there aren’t as many people.  Well the rates are good and the parks are not crowded because no one goes in September because it is the beginning of school!  I answered his email clearly expressing that missing the first full week of school was not a good idea for a child who struggles with memorizing information and taking tests.  She will fall behind and never catch up and the first trimester will be shot.  The trimester of the year colleges look at.  His answer: they were going anyway.  I was livid. 

As the date approached I got angrier and angrier and in an attempt to not make an already strained situation worse I avoided seeing him at drop off and pick up and I did not communicate with him because I knew I would say something that would, well, make things worse, actually I knew my words would make the situation over the top extreme.  By the time we reached the week before the trip, I was crazy.  My kids knew it; my daughter’s school knew it, my family knew it and I guess my ex got wind of my strong fanatical opinion of the trip.  He stopped talking to me and according to my children did not allow my name to be spoken in his house.  Well that didn’t go the way I planned. 

The day of the trip came.  Was I still getting the dog?  He has eliminated my name from his phone and my email from his computer I can’t possibly be still getting the dog, right?  Wrong. 

Rosie came with her insulin, syringes, leash and dog food.  She came without her cage or her owner who preferred to write the instructions for me rather than enter my house.  By this time I had talked to my daughter’s teachers, principle and special ed coordinator, most had assured me everything would be fine and to relax.  I went outside to discuss the puppy with him and it was fine. 

By denying my feelings I had made the whole situation worse.  But honestly I hadn’t kept my feelings to myself because by the second week of September everyone knew how I felt about the trip except the one who I was angry with.  I should say that I learned how to deal with this in the future.  I should say that there was a lesson in all of this and I got it, but I didn’t.  I will say the universe was not finished with me yet and isn’t it too bad this post is already too long.  I will also say that the next part of this story is much longer and far more difficult and you will just have to wait. 

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