Friday, July 31, 2015

New Hip. Hooray!

(By request this blog post from my now defunct blog - Mostly Zen- is being re-run)

I’m a bionic woman!  2015 opened the door to some really big changes in my life. My research, diligence, and prayers  to find funding, health insurance, and a quality physician throughout the Fall and Winter of 2014, paid off.  The clouds parted, the angels sang and in May of this year I acquired a shiny metal hip joint.  Yay!  While this past five week recovery process has been a physical (and dear Lord) emotional roller coaster ride, it’s also hauled in a few more lessons I apparently needed to know in order to earn extra credits towards my Mostly Zen status. Even writing this, I feel my heart flutter with a tinge of excitement at a pain-free and bright future of new paths and exploration on my sexy new metal leg. 

My leg issues were undiagnosed for the longest time because I rarely go to a doctor for anything other than extreme emergencies. Examples of extreme emergency: A burst fallopian tube or a face full of shingles.  A few years ago, I attributed the increasing ache in my right buttock and an inability to stand up without pain, as just part of this aging process, too many Spin classes, and carrying the weight of the world on my solitary shoulders for way too many years. In March of 2014 a rogue gallbladder needed to be removed and the delusional optimist in me thought maybe the pain in my diseased organ and the pain in my butt were somehow related.  After all, from a spiritual, holistic perspective, isn't it all  connected?  That line of thinking was hopeful but I now know it was the direct result of some pretty awesome pain medication post gall bladder surgery.  Nothing hurt. For about six weeks.  

The awareness I needed to see a neurologist or an orthopedic doctor came when I stepped out of my car, balancing a brand new oversize George Foreman Grill from my cousin; it was her contribution to my eat healthy plan to help stop the rapidly increasing number on the scales. Not only did I have this horrific pain, I had packed away two clothing sizes (I couldn't bear to get rid of them)  as I packed on enough pounds to drive me into a serious depression. By now, my Planet Fitness usage was merely a pipe dream and a drain on my checking account. A doctor wrote me a prescription to halt my membership for six months without monetary penalties.   Giving up my beloved exercise and gym was not an effective cure. My mind and my body slid into a lethargic spiral.   I was convinced, as a result of my daily incessant Web MD, and Internet diagnostician practice, that I had Multiple Sclerosis. So, naturally,  I started with a neurologist, who upon trying to bend my leg like a chicken wing brought forth animal sounds that I didn't know could come from a human being.  Puzzled, he  X-rayed my right hip.  An immediate review and his proclamation of advanced, bone on bone hip arthritis, as well as a referral to someone who might be able to really help me, sparked a small hope for relief. The sports medicine doctor while witty, compassionate, and wise didn't really tell me what I wanted to hear. As with most things in my life, I was in search of the quick, easy, fix. It wasn't that simple.  It wouldn't reverse itself.  Any treatment would be palliative at best. Total hip replacement was the only cure. I wasn't ready.  Nor was my pocketbook.   A temporary fix in the form of a prescription for anti-inflammatory medication and a nightly dose of Tramadol helped me pretend it might go away.  And, I prayed.  The effectiveness of the prescriptions lasted about as long as the blush of a new relationship. I was ready for a new lover within months  and  I'd heard cortisone shots were the answer.  The injection hurt so good - within minutes I could feel relief settling into my arthritic joint. This love affair lasted just long enough for me to mop floors and clean tubs that I couldn't move to do on my own for a few months.  I socialized, went to basketball games, drove all over town, pain free.  For 3 1/2 weeks. 

Life and mobility spiraled down from there.  Work was impossible, driving was dangerous and difficult and I was sending stock prices soaring on over the counter pain relievers. I had a dilemma.  I needed surgery and I had no job and no insurance.  With no income, I qualified for Medicaid, if, I would allow the government to take any assets that I had worked for years to accumulate.  I couldn't buy insurance through the Marketplace because I had no income.  Caught, clearly between the rock and hard place of need and bureaucracy,  I meditated, I researched, and I prayed for answers. Friends prayed for healing for me.  One insightful friend said she prayed for complete healing for me, however, she didn't define how that should happen. She let that be up to God how it would play out in my life. I thought to myself, that really was letting go.  I stopped praying for money, insurance, Prince Charming, a new hip, and humbly asked that He heal my life so that I may do His will. Sometimes we need to just get quiet enough to hear the stirring of divine direction and trust what we are asked to do.  Lying in bed one morning, something drove me to the social security website. Disappointed, I read that I was still too young to take early retirement. Something guided me to call their offices and talk to a representative.  The voice on the other end was empathetic and helpful.  Her first questions to me were, "Are you a widow and have you ever remarried?"  Two weeks later, my first survivor's benefit check was deposited in my checking account.   Heaven joined forces to continue to take care of me - God and my husband.  Oh, me of little faith.   I was able to purchase insurance off of the Marketplace because I now had an income.  

An early orange sunrise, warmed the May morning and portended a bright outcome as my daughter drove me to the hospital.  Any nervousness was at a minimum. Surgery felt like the reward at the end of long, solitary, trek through the wilds, complete with bruises and banged up knees from navigating so many obstacles and a feeble leg which collapsed on occassion.  I was exhilarated, but exhausted as a few hours later I went under the scalpel, hammer and saw.  I knew the tools of the trade because the Internet surgeon in me unabashedly watched an entire hip replacement a few weeks before.   I went into the operating room at 8:00 in the morning and was finished by 9:00.  At 10:30 a.m. I was in a room, and up and walking with a walker by afternoon.  By 8:00 that evening, I was on my way home to my own bed.  I fondly refer to my surgery as my drive-through hip replacement.  I knew when I stepped onto my surgical leg hours later, that very same day, all arthritis pain gone, no matter what I had to do to restore my strength and heal completely, I was willing to do it.  I was getting my life back and it was all wrapped up in a big red ribbon, bought with the prayers of friends and family, and the love of a heavenly Father and deceased husband. 

It's easy to be so flip and positive five weeks out as a big part of the healing has taken place. However, it's been, as most major life events are, enlightening. It's been the long haul.  I've learned so much about myself and surprisingly others. Trying times tend to strip away pretense and reveal people's true nature. Including our own.  What's left is honesty and essence of who we are; our values, character, and even our weaknesses -  stripped of fancy words and little white lies.  You find out who your true friends are and where your treasures lie in the isolation, fear and loneliness of a long recovery process.   Being incapacitated and alone, not being able to check your own mail, put out your trash, bend to pick something up, cut your own toenails, or drive for so many weeks snatches away your independence and makes you very vulnerable.  For self-sufficient warriors like me, that's difficult.  It takes a lot of courage to ask. And, it takes even more courage, when you do ask, and you are rejected to not take it personally. The old tapes of abandonment started playing loudly in the stillness of my solitude.  

However, I found in the solitude, stripped of everything, it was up to me to turn down that volume and lean into the faith that I had everything I needed for the care and nurturing of me.  I have learned how to navigate boredom and loneliness.  I understand the true meaning of self-care, and slathered on healthy doses of self-love.  Surprisingly, this time, I really didn't forget the one constant Source of help and support is right beside me - as close as my breath, just one prayer away.  That's the best it gets when push comes to shove. That's all we got and all we can ever count fully on - ourselves and God.  My strong new hip and even stronger faith, will carry me down my yellow brick road, no ruby slippers needed. I had the power all along.  Some blessings come disguised as challenges.  No experience is wasted.  I will always, on my very best and wisest day be the student and just Mostly Zen. Partially  there, hoping to arrive someday, yet content in knowing, I am at least on the path.   I am well on my way to 2015's intention - RENEW.  

Charge!  And, even that's now possible - on my brand new leg. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Word of the Year 2015 - RENEW

Renew:  To make fresh or strong again; to make a promise or vow; to begin with force or enthusiasm; Make like new. 

I need a makeover.  I’m a little frustrated. No, honestly, I’m pissed.  Here’s why.

I’ve spent the last five years or so, on a “strip it all down to the naked truth” emotional, spiritual, and psychological exploration. A kind of interrogation into the what, why, and how of my life.  It’s been tough and it’s been a long haul.  I may have seen results sooner but  I had to do this in my spare time in between work, worry, and a minimal amount of emotional support. Everyone else had their own lives, their own families, their own spouses, I thought.  I spent the first few years trying to make sense of my ugly orphan child syndrome and got a real clear picture of why I had this overriding fear of abandonment. I had been.  Often.  Why would my precious God take away the unconditional love and healing arms of the presence of a mom, dads and a spouse. Way too soon.  Those were significant people who were supposed to be constants.  Some heavy hits over the past few decades.  My journey inward wasn't luxurious.  There were no retreats, spa days, or life exploration summits.  From Maslow’s perspective in the Hierarchy of Needs, I had to work my way up from the bottom of the triangle.  Food and shelter were paramount and safety, well, I wasn't sure where that would be from day to day. Always  the eternal optimist, (eventually) I now recognize  change may not have happened if I’d been privy to the easier, softer way; me all wrapped in a swaddling blanket of creature comforts and love, real or imagined.  Climbing up the hierarchy to reach the hallowed esteem and self-actualization quadrants may have taken me a little longer than perhaps the average human soul,  but it truly has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.  

I’ve been my own worst Gestapo, holding myself accountable and not letting me slink away from my defects, OR, (probably most important in my case)  down play my attributes.  I really haven’t made the climb on my own.  I have to give credit where credit is due.  There have been a few therapists, special spiritual guides, as well as a few challenging souls that have helped me unravel the truth of me.   I knew I had to do that in order not to continue waking up to eternal Ground Hog Days. You know what I mean.  When you scratch your head in disbelief because you are with the same man, different face; or tolerating the same abuse in a different setting and wondering how you got there, again.  There have been a few mid-terms tossed in and the final exam was a real dilly.  However, I discovered, what we don’t know, we can’t change. Another important lesson: What we don’t know, we can hardly beat ourselves up over. As Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.”  That has been a huge blessing because no one slips the boxing gloves on to pound on me better than me. Forgiven.   I also learned, it’s not  that you can’t go back; you really shouldn’t. I've learned to treasure the love that is already present in my life and focus my attention on those angels. All of these discoveries have finally freed my life of guilt, shame, remorse, comparison, self-pity, martyrdom and replaced those demons with empowerment, peace, honesty, grace, belonging, and acceptance.  Surrender isn’t the same as giving up.   I KNOW THIS NOW!  Most days. 

So, here I sit with a silly smile of peace and contentment on my face.  Taking charge of my own life and its outcome; EXCEPT, this physical vessel holding all that acceptance, grace and the goodies of light and love, HAS GONE TO HELL IN A HAND BASKET!  I am fully aware, these fruits of the spirit, the result of so much hard work, will be just a fond memory if the vessel is all battered and dysfunctional and physical pain is a constant companion.  

So, here we go 2015.  This is the year to renew.  

Dear lovely, worn out body.

I am renewing a vow to you to care for you as if you were my own precious grandchild. You and I are worthy of going to a doctor when we need to. We are also worthy of getting that which needs repaired, fixed.  We’re worthy of taking the time to cook delicious healthy food and eating what’s wholesome.  Not fast and cheap, sleazy rendezvouses shoveling it in by the kitchen sink.   I commit to you back to back nights of restful sleep and I promise to remove you from any negative influences which threaten to attack your immune system and serenity.  When you are back on track, feeling pain free, nourished, and stronger, I cross my heart, because I know I will die, if I don’t take you out to play, often!  We’ll move and stretch and dance in the day.  I promise to continue my quest of learning about you and what makes you keep ticking smoothly as well as the things you need to not just function, but flourish.   Then, I plan to introduce you to your new spirit filled heart and maybe the two of you can hook up for rest of your life.  I anticipate a true match made in heaven. 

I can’t think of a better way to spend a brand new year of our life.  I look forward, with patience and love until we are reunited again.  This one time, it’s a blessing to go back.  Back to the oneness God wants for us, body, mind, soul.  Renewed: Beginning again with force and enthusiasm.  

Your Mostly Zen Heart and Soul

While I’m waiting for these two to be reunited, just so I don’t forget what I learned earning my degree in Knowing and Loving Me,  I am committed to sharing my new, Mostly Zen head, on a (fairly) regular basis. It will reinforce what I now know, keep me humble in an empowering way.

Mostly Zen.  I like that.  Totally Zen or achieving Nirvana, well, I know me.  I would be so bored.  We’ll save that for the afterlife.   

Here's to a Renewal. Here's to Mostly Zen. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

My birthday was this last Monday.  I woke up with a kaleidoscope of butterflies in my stomach.  These weren’t the frail, winged beauties of insecurity and fear that set up butterfly housekeeping for what seemed like too many years. This time the flutter inside, was a celebration of another year of life.  Time to get up and dance in the day.  Wow.  I’ve lived this long and gathered a lifetime of enough material to create quite a tome; part Running with Scissors, part Raiders of the Lost Ark, with a spattering of Nicholas Sparks-ish tear-jerkers tossed in for my  hopeless romantic heart.  A well-worn life for sure; comfortably broken in by now.  Through time and healing, the set-backs and suffering have become simply distant, impartial memories to entertain me in my rapidly approaching golden years. 

When the butterflies and I settled into a meditative state, I reflected on the extreme gratitude I feel to be alive after all these years.  Most of my family didn’t make it this far. A legacy of mean genes ended the lives of so many of my loved ones way too soon.  This left me questioning life’s fairness and a loving God. However, experience has also evolved my conception of God.  I no longer believe He sits up there doling out grace and mercy based on naughty and nice.  I’ve certainly pushed the envelope in my younger years, throwing caution and good sense off to the side in pursuit of exhilaration and adventure. The consummate rebel. A survivor.  Maybe it’s an extension of Grace that my Creator has saved me the heartbreak of dying with unfinished business at a much younger age.  I wouldn’t have to come back:  reincarnated, with a ginormous bucket list and a tick sheet of amends I needed to make.  I think my slate is clean now, and I’ve done about everything my heart thought I had to do - at least for today.  It’s been an extreme joy ride, although, I’ve been tossed off the roller coaster a time or two.  Looking back, even those periods when the shattered me was recouping and healing yet another failure, big disappointment, or  broken heart;  those moments  proved every time to be meaningful lessons I just hadn’t quite mastered, and a reflective time in my journey.  I have changed. 

I pondered what I would tell me a decade ago if I could go back and have coffee with my mildly neurotic, totally insecure, people pleaser self.   Then, I decided I probably wouldn’t change a thing.  It doesn’t matter that this past decade has really been filled with hair-pin turns and a few poor choices that frequently rendering me disoriented and confused, wondering what to do next. It forced me to surrender and listen to something other than a mind puffed up, engorged with ego.   The voice within taught me (eventually) to stop charging past the red flags which always led me into the abyss of magical thinking. This past decade of remedial enlightenment has revealed why I fall into that abyss time and time again.  Ego said, “You’re  smarter now, hold onto your flags, you’ve earned them.  Just jump over that hole.”   Inevitably gravity, sucked me back in and I fell further in as the hole had grown larger over time because I always had to dig my way out.  I hope I have finally learned the lesson, the hole will always hold the same things, darkness, and delusion,  even when it’s camouflaged under prettiness, promises and pretense. Recently, it’s been this simple.  Red flags are there to warn me of the danger.  Steer clear.  Hole ahead.  Walk around.  Do not look back.  There is nothing meant for me there. 

So, what would I say to this little self-proclaimed guru who wears all her flaws, fears, and feelings on her sleeves?  What didn’t she seem to know a decade ago?  

I would say, “My sweet love, heart of my hearts, a few tips to navigate the remainder of this precious life. I know you have your lessons still to learn, but if you can keep these in mind, you will live out your days with a peaceful heart. A peaceful heart intimately knows God.” 

  1. You will never be skinny enough, smart enough, pretty enough, clever enough, talented enough, or rich enough, to suit anyone else.  Stop trying.  Be enough for you.  You have been given everything you need to make your life here matter. 
  2. You were born with an internal GPS to help you navigate your life and decisions. Learn to pay attention to the directions it calls out.  
  3. The absolute most precious moments in your life will be the quietest and the simplest.  Treasure and live in those. 
  4. People will treat you exactly how you give them permission to treat you.  
  5. Sleepless nights and worry are the biggest waste of time. Drink hot milk.  Pray. Watch old episodes of Big Bang Theory.  
  6. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive.  Yourself. Everyone else. In that order.
  7. Just get started.  
  8. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot.  This will take you anywhere you want to go.
  9. Begin your day with a gratitude list.  End your day with a gratitude list.  
  10. Dream more. It’s free. 
  11. Treat yourself like you would treat the person you love more than life itself.
  12. Share where you've been and what you've learned, without fear.  Be authentic. 
  13. Whatever you water and nurture grows - relationships, friendships, your attitude, blessings, and hope. Fertilize wisely. 
  14. Take just about everything you see and hear with a grain of salt. Trade in judgement for the faith of a grain of a mustard seed.  
  15. Pretend you are the Divine for the day, and look at others through That Pair of Eyes.


17.  Be your own guru.  This in no way diminishes contributions others can make to the quality of your life and your personal growth.  It means, learn to trust yourself.  Your Voice is important.  Honor what it has to say too.  

On to the next decade.  One precious day at a time. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Open Heart

This summer my husband would have reached his 55th year.  Celebrating a lucky double nickle birthday was not in his life plan.   We were together for ten years, sharing seven of them as husband and wife.  I like to think of that period as my Golden Decade; some of the finest years of my life.  Maybe there is some validity to the energy of Love being magnetic and attracting more goodness and abundance into our lives.  The deeper I seemed to grow in my love, respect, and gratitude for him and our time together, my exterior world of job and material possessions multiplied too.  Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I was swept away into this magical land of beauty and blessings... and disbelief.  On some level I didn’t think I was worthy. What did I ever do to warrant all of this and such a man?   For the first time in my life, struggle ceased and I had ... plenty.  There was plenty of money, plenty of friendships, plenty of good health, plenty of material possessions, plenty of love.   Most of all, there was a peace and the kind of encompassing gratitude that lingers like very expensive perfume.  I thanked my God, my deceased mother, and anyone else I thought might have been responsible for the end to years of struggle.  Eight years into our cocoon of comfort, dark clouds crept in, chilled the air and blocked the sunlight.  As he struggled to save his life from the cancer cells that invaded every organ in his body, cynicism and grief threatened to take my soul. I simply could not believe this could happen to such a good man and it shook the foundation of my belief in a loving God.  I prayed for his life, offering up mine as a trade off, but there was no bargaining.  I thought God had not only closed the door on me, maybe some archangel told Him of some long ago misdeeds and I was blacklisted from His Mercy and Grace.  I never lost my faith that there was a God.  He just appeared to have too much faith in me that I could handle anything tossed my way and He clearly wasn’t into negotiation.   My prayers and pleading fell on deaf ears.  God went silent. My heart did too. 

Years of confusion and grief followed his death, and I couldn’t make sense of anything.  I had this belief that goodness and abundance was based on behavior.  No matter how hard I tried, that philosophy wasn’t working for me.  I was a good person, giving and compassionate.  I worked hard, took care of myself and continued to expand my knowledge and ability to carry my own weight on the planet.  I thought I put into the world what I wanted to see reflected in my own life. However, a nagging discontent with life and struggle continued to invade my days; not enough - job satisfaction, money, contentment in relationships or, most of all, self-esteem. 

Sometimes there is a Holy purpose for our world to come crashing down in a heap at our feet.  Mine did. I was forced to simply stop and all outer worldly distractions went away.  Gone were the jobs, the relationships, and the money. Time to be still and just feel all the hurt and grief, lying in wait to be acknowledged.   It got quiet enough to hear my own voice inside my heart begging to be let out, if only for a time; just to feel the sunshine and witness the majesty of a starry sky. You can’t hold on to the past inside a heart padlocked for safe keeping and expect to dance in the adventure of life at the same time.  If even God isn’t permitted entry, how are new gifts to arrive? 

Trying to recapture the past and the abundance of back then, is like trying to harness the energy of the tides. Memories are fond rainy day diversions, not a way of life.  Meaning lives in the moment and flows from an open heart ready to receive what each minute has to offer, whether it be sorrow or joy.  Abundance shows up not because someone else loved us, or we loved our jobs, or we have financial security.  It arrives because we are savoring every day just as it is, with a heart wide open, seeing it all through the eyes of Love.   All the gifts of the spirit reside there.  They flow outward in a Love that spills over into every aspect of our lives.  I cannot earn my way into this kind of abundance through responsibility, education, and good behavior.  An open heart, filled with love; offering love and accepting love back, held the keys to my Golden Decade. I’ve found the keys and unlocked my heart.  I plan to keep it open, no matter what.  

This summer, after many years of being tucked away for safe-keeping, just like my heart, I discovered our wedding rings,  I took them to a jeweler.  I wanted them both made into a single ring; a remembrance.  His band, was to encircle my finger as a whispered reminder that love always holds me close; both he and God.   My band, was to be molded into the shape of a free-style heart, scattered with the diamonds.   Each one symbolizes the extraordinary love already existing in my life.  Our rings and my heart are no longer padlocked away for old memories sake.  

I prefer living with this open heart, letting life feed it with whatever comes my way- joy, sorrow, prosperity or poverty.    I know what I had before, and all the important things in my life, grew because of that energy of Love and Love can only  flow into and from a heart wide open.  I am learning to savor the sensations of this vulnerable, open-hearted living and experiencing a new kind of abundance.  My prosperity is not limited to a single Golden Decade.  As long as I keep my heart open, every moment of my life is spun into gold, scattered with diamonds. 

Monday, June 23, 2014


You can know the truth of something so well, yet, be unable to apply it to your own life.  This seems to be the case for me and a little  left-over negative energy from the past.  All it takes are even a few small drops of negativity to slowly seep into the pores of a life and like a petri dish that reproduces more of whatever is placed in there with it- it grows and festers.  Soon,  it's out of control and you don't have big enough tools to  stop its progression.

 I've been weaving in and out of forgiveness for way too long. As author Anne Lamott calls it, Forgivishness. It's been a half-assed, people pleaser, goody two shoes kind of forgiveness.  I have learned,  a shattered heart heals.  I think it's because God lives there and pieces it back together with his love.  A shattered ego is harder to fix.  Maybe that's the point.   Let it be, this self-righteous ego.  Leave it lying in a mess on the ground humming some sad old twangy tune of being done wrong while it wraps itself up in a poor little thing cloak.  Maybe it's just time to sweep up the ego; sweep it all up,  into a dustpan and toss it out into the ethers.  What purpose does the ego serve other than as a barrier to a loving God who wants to do so much more for me than I am capable of manipulating together for myself.  He sees the big picture because He's already painted the big picture.  Without the ego, I might  not only accept that, I could be at peace with it too.

I always try to ask myself, what is the point? What is the take-away lesson here?  What am getting out of this?  Being human and feeling the range of emotion - from joy to rage, to extreme suffering is the point.  It's our catalyst for growth and change. We don't grow just because we thought about it and think it's time.  We grow because its too painful to stay where we are standing.  Being human and feeling all that indignation and shame and those other unholy terrors -  they lets us know when its time. If we don't hear them, they curse and scream at us until we are on the brink of crazy.   Time to grow.  Time to give up.  Time to accept.  Past Time to forgive.

I live quite a lot from my head.  I do learn some things from that space.  However,  my emotions are a better teacher.  I have learned that.  Suffer long enough and I'll do anything to set myself free.  So, I decided it was a matter of life or death to just forgive.  Even if in my head, I didn't mean it right now.  In my heart I needed to mean it.   Even if I didn't really want to because I was so justified.  I just kept mouthing the words- I forgive you.  I forgive you.  I forgive you.

Somehow, my words became one with God's. You must forgive so that you can live.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Word of the Year 2014 - A Final Examination and More Honorable Adieu to Examining My Unexamined Life

I slammed my beloved blog closed on my 60th birthday.  No graceful departure.  Apparently, I gave no real warnings to my readership.  Surprisingly, I heard about it from some family and friends and people I only knew through the blog.   I didn’t realize anyone still read it! I thought it had run its course as all things in life seem to do.  Unless, we are of the mindset to fight change and make ourselves miserable. Some of us do that you know. Hang on for dear life to things that aren’t meant for us, serving us well, or simple ignorance in knowing maybe there is something more, meant for us.  I lived like that once upon a time.  More recently though, any examining, as well as writing, screeched to halt.  It wasn’t deliberate.  In the midst of several life altering events, there wasn’t enough time, or maybe, it just wasn’t important to me anymore.  I was blessed to finally move forward, literally and figuratively.  I might have even been enjoying the severing of a few ties that had wrapped their tentacles first around my heart, and later wound up around my neck. Being where I was, seemed to be choking the life out of me. When I got out of examining my head (and  left Dodge), I felt like I could breathe without the searing pain of remembrance and too much stress. The only thing I was planning on writing on any agenda, if I had to have one,  was the word, enjoy.  That’s how I wanted to live now.  In Joy.  My idea of a perfect day was to gaze into the moment, cross-legged, inhaling the healing breaths of gratitude, feeling them seep into my weathered spirit.

On some level entering a new decade of life AND changing residences, I might have even unconsciously wanted to break free from anything (my blog)  that could tie me down or put me in a vulnerable place again.  Good grief, my blog opened me up wide.  And once I started, I couldn't stop.  While it turned on the lights to connection and authenticity, it also laid the groundwork for rejection and judgement. I had placed myself into a position,  more vulnerable than I ever have been. With anyone. Ever. And, through it all, writing the words; cracking the code on what made me tick,  I grew and I healed.  

So, how dare I not honorably acknowledge the end to my tiny, insignificant musings into cyber space.  If nothing else I thought later, it provided at no cost, (except for my own embarrassment)  an avenue for free therapy.  Spewing my insecurities and dysfunction into words rather than private thoughts,  was highly cathartic and gently ushered in clarity.   A surprising off shoot  was some new, like-minded friends, who were grateful they weren’t alone in their perceived flaws, and found a voice through mine. There are few things better in this life than intimacy.of the soul.  The kind that makes you realize it is safe to be who you are because we really are all alike and connected. 

Another gift, was my miraculous and growing awareness to some of the secrets to living well, while in this body, on this earth.  I made it a mission through prayer, quiet time, and my words, to learn (often relearn)  some of those lessons I have now come to realize are just a part of my life plan.  Aka: God’s Will.  I learned how to listen.  I learned how to be alone.   I learned what doesn’t kill you, sure does make you stronger, but it doesn't need to make you meaner.   I learned how to love myself without expecting outside reinforcement in order to feel loved.  I discovered how worthy I am, always.  I learned how to accept, not always graciously, that whatever happens, happens;  and it is up to me how I choose to process it.   Most of all I learned that so many of the gifts I have been seeking, rest in my own little hands.  I choose my happiness.   I am in charge of CREATING the life I want to live.  

So, it just seemed natural to make my word for 2014, CREATE.  

My ah ha moment arrived with a sweet little silver turtle I received this Christmas as a gift.  On it’s back, in a rainbow of colors, were the words, Enjoy the Journey. Contained in the simplicity of this message, was a big discovery.  It has been a journey.  My blog. My life.  Even in the darkest hours when I couldn’t see any purpose or joy, the journey was still progressing.  It was still there, extending the hand of love and understanding.  True, sometimes it seemed halted,  slowed and hidden by the clouds.   But,  those were often of my own making.  I chose to wear the shroud that kept me trapped in grief, loss, fear, and lack, rather than remembering the things that were treasured and holy.   When I began to understand this, when I knew I was the force behind continuing misery, I was then able to move on, further into the mysteries of God’s will for my life.  

In 2011 my word of the year was BLOSSOM.  I did.  I worked hard at discovering my unique talents, my purpose - through meditation, prayer, and connecting with my Higher Power. I invested time in me and in Him. He showed me how to move through the clouds by always remembering the sun.  It's still there, even if it isn't shining.   In 2012 my word of the year was FREEDOM.  Once we know who we are and love ourselves, we are free.  Others opinions, words, and approval is not important. I set myself free that year.  In 2013 my word of the year was FEARLESS.  I have always been a bit of a risk-taker.  This year I was fearless;  moving out into the world as an authentic me, taking charge of my life, asking for what I needed and wanted, opening myself up honestly, and actively pursuing what was good for me.    How perfect then is the word of the year for 2014 to have bubbled up as, CREATE.  It’s just another exciting project on my journey.  I am responsible for CREATING the life I want to see and live.  I am responsible for my happiness, success, and peace of mind.  What a beautiful word for 2014 and to end this blog with.  CREATE.   I can almost hear all of those who love me; the living and those in heaven, breathing a sigh of relief and whispering, “I think she gets it.”   

Thank you dear Examining Blog for guiding my awakening life,  and handing me the keys to enjoying my journey.   Happy New Year.  Happy New Life! 

P.S.   Oh, yes, I am forgetting the most important reward of this little blog.  It appears I am no longer ruled by the opinions, motives, likes, comments, shares and approvals  in order to know that I am really a writer. A damn good one.  (Well, a little honesty here I do believe this.   Most days.) I know it is a gift that I am called  to share with others. The only voice I keep tuned into now,  is the One within. The only like I need is the contented feeling that burns in my heart,  knowing it's my best. For today.     With that being said, I think I just might start a new blog someday.  I will call it- Too Soon Old... Too Late Smart. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

BOOM BABYand the Big 60!

I had this ridiculous goal early Spring to arrive Sexy, at Sixty.  I defined sexy as being twenty pounds lighter.  As my littlest grand-daughters say about a “hot chick”...Boom baby! That would be me, I thought.

If you would have asked me in my 20’s or even 30’s if I could fathom what 60 would look like I would have said, “Lying in a box, six feet underground- probably sporting a hot pink stiletto, shoe still intact on a little skeletal foot.”   I never imagined I would live long enough to qualify for senior discounts or lose my abs to make room for a comfy marshmallowy grandma pillow. Who would have thought I would sincerely admire the tattle tale lines all over my face that divulge how much I’ve worried, laughed, and squinted at the warmth and pleasure of the sun.  My memoir could be written tracing through those facial grooves.  I’m also of the age, I can connect the dots with the funky spots that have magically appeared overnight, all over what used to be silky, spotless flesh.  I could easily use those brown spots on my hand to create a senior citizen’s tattoo, coloring in a  yin-yang sign on one hand and the familiar symbol of peace on the other. Those would be an appropriate symbol for what I represent these days as well as reflect some pretty important lessons I’ve learned, all because I’ve had the privilege of growing older. My skin now feels more like a fine old leather hand-bag, broken in, comfortable and classic. I’m allowed to make jokes, laugh at, and appreciate my own baby boomer aging.  Because I’ve learned through all the disappointment, loss, tragedy, and time, how precious life is.  Mine has been a great adventure, and I am incredibly grateful.  

I find myself appreciating things I was never comfortable with in my younger years.  Living alone doesn’t mean I LIVE my life alone.  I’m  blessed with such a diverse group of friends who I’ve grown to treasure FOR their differences.  I was pretty judgemental in my younger years, too close minded to move out of the clan I thought I needed to belong in.  These last few decades, some of my most phenomenal moments have happened because I stepped out of my comfort zone, and joyfully cannonballed into people, activities, and environments that were different.  I’ve grown and learned so much more about life, sharing with those whose philosophies and lifestyles were unique from mine.  

I’m easily entertained these days too.  A cheap date.  I get just as much pleasure lying on a blanket with a loved one, stargazing, life-sharing, and sucking on cherry red Twizzlers,  as dining in a five star restaurant.  When I do dine in a five star restaurant, I probably qualify for the seniors menu. Do five -star restaurants have a discounted menu?   Best of all,  I will heartily enjoy the cuisine unafraid of packing on a few pounds.  I am not in the least interested in sacrificing one moment of delicious for the pinched face of deprivation.   

I’m calmer.  Oh, don’t get me wrong... I can get riled up by politics, injustice, and evil in the world.  I rant for a short time.  Then I’m done-- cleansed of all resentments, roadblock free, and pick up the crayon of my choice rather than letting people, places, and things color in my day.  I love this, I think, the most. 

I’m accepting without being resigned. I know where I can change things, and where I can’t.  I don’t waste energy anymore that could be used for a greater good trying to change others.   I’m peaceful, but not complacent.  I don’t turn my back on the injustices of life.  I recognize I can do my best to implement change by being honest and kind just as easily as being radically obnoxious.  

Being authentic and honest is more important to me these days than being liked or accepted and winding up where I don't belong. 

I delight in the day without having an agenda of how that day should go.  I don’t need much to make me happy;  really only the basic human needs of food, shelter, security, and love.  There was a time I thought I would be happy when..... I’m  happy now.  All the joy I was always looking for I find in nature, the faces of my loved ones and friends, a good ice cream cone, small (and sometimes big) adventures, and going to bed every single night of my life, knowing I am loved.  

All my Spin classes, salads, and prayers to be lighter haven’t paid off like I perceived they would.  It’s really been the exercise of putting one foot in front of the other, grasping life’s brass ring, one day at a time that has truly made me Sexy at Sixty.  

On that note, this little Sex Pot thinks it’s time to retire.... this blog at least and LIVE my well examined life, one day at time.  Cheers to Life, at every age! Boom baby! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Self- Forgiveness - Part Two - A letter from my Higher Self (an exercise suggested by a recent meditation session)

This morning I languished in the empty space luxuriating between sleep and lucidity. This sweet spot is my favorite time of the day, caught up in the deliciousness of a quiet, empty, mind and the kind of peace that feels soft and silky like the trim on a baby’s blanket. What better place to open the day with a little prayer.  Gratitude softly rises as a natural expression when I am in this state.  I stretched.  I smiled.  I ticked off a few of my many blessings....another day of life, recovery, family, friends, having just enough, and,   the daily expressions of God’s love for me (when I stay alert and teachable). 

 I suspect God appreciated that I finally seemed to notice all this after a summer of what felt like a Spiritual Tough Mudder competition.  Me, feeling prepared after exercising and developing what I thought were some pretty big spiritual muscles over the past few years.  So, it was a big surprise to feel trapped, weak and helpless: the underground drainage pipe filling up with some stinky luck, and blockage as everyone else (apparently spiritually fitter and more deserving) seemed to charge right by me. There were many things that just weren’t easy.  It was solitary, and clearly out of my control and I surmised it was time to work on bigger, maybe steroid enhanced muscles, of long-term patience, surrender, acceptance, faith, and courage. I thought I was failing miserably at even my amped up workouts. I needed much bigger guns than I apparently had.   I did recognize a good part of my depression was my own head chastising me for a million things that I thought should be happening and weren’t.  I was either just unworthy, or being karmically punished for every mistake I’ve made in my life - since birth. Joan of Arc and I had a lot in common- in my distorted mind.  Only I was hardly a saint, just a self-professed martyr. 

This creepy, prophesy fulfilling self-talk, revealed I still had one huge forgiveness opportunity festering away waiting for me to put to rest. Of course someone had to be blamed, so I picked me.  I knew my slate was clean with everyone else I'd had a resentment towards for real or imagined harm done.  But, I didn’t really have a clue how to forgive me, or exactly what I needed to forgive me for. If I chastised myself, wasn’t that okay and way of keeping me accountable?  In a blinding flash of clarity, the thought drifted into my head, “Would you use such negativity on your loved ones to hold them accountable?” The answer of course was no.  I wouldn’t dream of demeaning my beloveds thinking that would produce the empowerment and acceptance that comes from good self-esteem.  Furthermore, don’t I believe resentment blocks peace of mind, clarity and abundance?  So, why wouldn’t  holding a resentment towards myself be part of the problem recently?  I clearly needed to forgive myself... for everything. 

The question was, “How can I do that?”  The Universe answered. The same way I have forgiven everyone else I needed to forgive in my life.  By  putting myself in God’s immeasurably large shoes and looking through His eyes at the person I needed to forgive.  This time it was me.  

So, this was the morning...  He must have sensed my peace and comfort and thought it a good time to remind me of my commitment to work with Him on a forgiveness letter, written in my hand, from His compassionate heart.  He suggested we do this and pay no attention to the crazy blonde lady who often party-crashes inside my head.  

This is what We wrote:

My beautiful child,

I hear your words and they cut like a Samurai’s sword.  Oh, the evil things you say about my creation.... YOU.  Life is not about your mistakes, failings, and poor choices.  Life is about experiencing, learning, growing and moving through the good, the bad and the devastating.  I see that it is often in the pitchiest blackness, you’ve turned to Me and learned to trust my guidance and voice.  Why do you question that it is My voice?   I’ve seen you flourish with little light, and grow beyond your perceptions of your limitations.  It’s time now, to walk into the Light and see that for yourself.  No human being enters into this material world all knowing.  I placed you into this classroom to learn, grow and recognize your true spiritual nature.  I gave you Life and experiences to be your teacher.  I signed My name in blood on your life contract so that YOU would never know the suffering of unforgiveness. You learned the importance of forgiving  others, but you diminish MY gift to you? Do you realize, when you do that, you block the power I give you to live in abundance, peace, and joy.   You must recognize, my love, when you know better, you do better.  Your self-talk is so vicious about many of your life choices.  My precious one, don’t you see, it has been your choices that have helped you to grow and evolve into your spiritual skin?  The choices you have made, while you may see them as negative, have cultivated your intuition, compassion, loving spirit, and many other spiritual gifts that I placed in you.  How would you know what sacred love looks like without seeing what it isn’t?  Look to Me. I have shown you the kind of love you have craved, so you can NOW pick people that respect and honor you as I do.   I see you focus so often on your perception of what you haven’t achieved.  Why do you not celebrate all you have achieved?  I do.  Everyday I give you breath, I celebrate a woman who has overcome many obstacles and turned her life into one of hope, possibility, tenacity,  authenticating My work by being who she is, the woman I created -- In big, bold, cursive writing for the world to see.  I see a woman who is honest, strong, loving, capable, kind, generous and deserving of all that she already offers to others.  I see a woman whose needs, desires, hopes and dreams have a right to be acknowledged.  You just have to speak up, my dear, and claim them.  I see a woman who yes, has sometimes fallen, but always picks herself back up, wiser and more compassionate to the human condition. Let Me help you put away the pommeling stick.  It doesn’t honor either one of us for you to continue to reject My perfect Grace.  I forgave you for every sin before your sins were even manifested.  Today, I am asking you to forgive yourself and remove this Samurai sword which continues to break My heart.   Today I am asking you to take My hand and the two of us will wipe your slate clean.  Can I hear you say... I forgive, I am forgiven, I forgive myself?  I love you. 

Thank you,
Your Greatest Fan (aka God)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Forgiveness Part One - Let it begin with me.

I’ve spent the past 26 years on a Forgiveness mission.  I’ve gotten pretty good at it too. I’m not saying I’m an expert because sometimes it takes me a long time to realize I need to put forth the effort, AND do the work. I don’t fool myself anymore into thinking it’s not work. It’s hard work; sometimes more difficult than others, it just depends on the impact of the damage done and how I perceive it affects my life.  A belief I’ve acquired which takes some of the sting out of   wrongs committed, is the understanding that life is a school and sometimes the best lessons are learned through those Forgiveness opportunities. 

 Honestly though, every now and then I think I rather like splashing in the mud puddle of thoughts of creative revenge, karma, and little self-pity... for awhile.  I figure I must get some payoff from it.  Or maybe it’s just part of the way I learn my lessons...  rehashing and searing into my brain cells, why I don’t want to go there again. On that path, with that particular person or institution.  After awhile, I am alerted to the suffocating fog of poisonous anger overtaking my life and I miss the way the light feels on my skin and in my heart.  Blindly groping my way out of it,  sometimes I feel hopelessly lost and forget how to even begin to forgive.   Many times I’ve had to ask God to help me with it because I just can’t get there on my own.  My pitiful, yet heartfelt prayer would go something like this.  “God, please show me what you see in this person/situation, because I don’t always see things like you do and I am not seeing anything redeeming in this individual right now.  I would rather get out my voodoo doll and use up an inventory of sewing pins.”  It’s honest and I believe my communication with my Creator needs to be that, even if it's raw and real.  I am still human and need Him to transform the impure to a purer vision.   We may hide who we are from others, but, there are no secrets from Him... He knows my heart.  That plea occasionally got repeated for a long time before freedom set in. I’ve just learned through the years, how incredibly important Forgiveness is to any kind of fulfilling life.   Bryant McGill professes, “There is no Love without Forgiveness and there is no Forgiveness without Love.” I want Love to be at the center of my life. 

Forgiveness, for me, is the golden key.  I can't afford the luxury of resentments and any unfinished Forgiveness business just blocks the gifts of the spirit I have come to treasure.  Years ago, before I learned the power of Forgiveness, I adorned myself with resentments and masked the pain of their weight with a few addictions, for a time... Especially the ones that broke my hurt into a million pieces, or threatened the basic needs in life of safety, food, shelter.... healthcare. But, I did learn about personal choices, and I don’t do that anymore.  Once you enter the kingdom of heaven on earth, it’s hard to go back and live in a self-imposed hell. The sooner I got rid of that negativity, the better.  

I thought I had the Forgiveness skill mastered.  Furthermore, there was nothing currently swimming around out there waiting to sink its gigantic teeth in and suck the life out of my joy. 

A few weeks ago, I took part in a 21 day meditation challenge designed to transform relationships.  I’m not a newbie to meditation; Guided, Mindfulness, and Kundalini, even dabbling in a little Transcendental in my younger years. Way back then, any excuse to leave my body was a way of life and welcome!   Each day during this challenge I anticipated the day’s meditation and lesson plan- sailed right through each one, and savored the peace it brought.  Then, along came Day 14 or so.  The topic....Forgiveness.  I thought rather cockily... “I got this down.”  In the midst of the meditation, I felt unwarranted tears streaming down my cheeks, and saw my own face within, sad, and pinched. It shocked me. What was up with this?  Then came the journal writing part. The first question, I wrote:

I have forgiven many people through the years.  My parents, husbands, employers, friends, institutions, family members, even God.   I know how important it is to not only my serenity, but also my health and well-being. I am confused why the meditation impacted me so profoundly with tears, sadness, and sense of unfinished business. I think my slate is clean.   

Well, well, well.... Apparently not.  My body and reaction was telling me otherwise.

The next question in the journal led with this thought provoker.  “If the person you need to forgive is YOURSELF, consider writing yourself a letter from the perspective of your true (Higher)  Self, offering compassion and Forgiveness.  Holy cow!  Forgive myself?   I knew how to Forgive others, but me? I sat cross-legged on my mat and again, the tears flowed. Had I hung onto that voodoo doll and been using the pins on me?  I pulled out a notebook and pen and wrote with abandon, feeling disembodied from my thoughts and hand.   I wrote this list:

  1. I need to forgive myself for speaking and judging myself so harshly. 
  2. I need to forgive myself for having unattainable expectations, ones I would never ask of someone else.  
  3. I need to forgive myself for allowing others to treat me with unwarranted disrespect and going back for more. 
  4. I need to forgive myself for the incredibly poor choices that have peppered my life from time to time.  
  5. I need to forgive myself for failing to speak up for what I believe in.  
  6. I need to forgive myself for thinking that perfection was an attainable and an admirable goal.   
  7. I need to forgive myself for forgetting where I came from, and what my task is while I am alive.
  8. I need to forgive myself for treating the grandmother of three of the most beautiful little spirits on the planet, with such loathing and disregard.  
  9. I need to forgive myself for believing my needs and desires weren’t as important as everyone elses.
  10. I need to forgive myself for not forgiving myself.... 

Part Two, over the weekend---  Write a letter from my True Self, the Holy DNA I came into this world with, accessible at anytime.  The One who sees all as it truly is, doesn’t judge,  loves unconditionally. The Teacher.  The Lover. The Father/Mother, The Source of All.  

God, I ask for wisdom to write my letter IN YOUR WORDS extending Your compassion and understanding, and ultimately Forgiveness....for myself.  The same Forgiveness I know I must extend to others, I now recognize I need to give me.