Change, Choice, Daily Life, family, home, intention

Who Is In Control Here? Me or the World?

Who is in control here, me or the world? To some extent the world I live in has set the pace for my life. But really, I chose that. I could live differently.  Right now, I choose to have housing, medical insurance, a vehicle etc. I have to pay for that. So I am employed and that sets much of the tone of my life.  I am expected to show up and put in a days work, 5 days a week. And you know what, I am okay with that. But some people choose differently and maybe I should I look at making a different choice.

I am looking at housing these days (yes again) and wondering can I go even smaller?  Would I be comfortable? Do I really need all this stuff? Right now I pay for storage each month.  To store furniture I don’t have room for. I could almost let it all go, except my dad built this beautiful china cabinet and I could never replace that. Still, I saw this studio apartment for rent and thought, maybe? After all, how much room do I need?  It’s not me that needs the room, but my stuff.  I am attached to my stuff.

And why am I attached to my stuff?  It is not expensive stuff.  Probably the value of all my furnishings, pots and pans, lamps, rugs etc is under 2k, way under. But I look around and here is my history. My mom had that vase, my grandmother had this table. I remember how I struggled to pay off the living room furniture. This picture over my chair came from my moms house,  the clock came from my dad. Over and over, this is my collection of my life. And I am attached to it. I have let go of the people through death or relocation or just the rhythm of my life, but their fingerprints are all around me.

I have seen this over and over, when going through and clearing out someone’s house after they pass. Their memories are everywhere.  What meant nothing to me, had a whole story for them. Why did my grandmother have vials of her fingernails stuffed away in drawers?  We will never know the answer to that.  My moms things…. I knew the stories of much of what was visible. But the handkerchief pressed away in a book or the old worn out pair of shoes she did not let go of, those were her memories. And they left with her.

It is said we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. And yes we do. Sometimes in a way that is global, people fought for freedom, civil right and women’s rights. We would not be where we are without all those who came before us. But personally we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Good or bad, they set the tenor of our lives, at least the beginning.  Some of us became very strong through adversity. Some of us became very strong because we were believed in. We all had family and started out somewhere. And we carry that with us.

But back to the beginning, who is in control here? Do I want to live by default or choice?  I have a history and that is what it is. I cannot rewrite it or change.  But I can choose to bring along with me that which makes my life better. Because it was not all pretty, none of ours is.  I can take my mom’s strength and recognize how hard she fought in a world that seemed unloving to her. I can leave behind her criticism and disapproval of me. I can see just because someone else says I am clumsy (for instance) does not make it so. I can see myself as graceful and make that my truth.

So everyday is a choice and my daily choices add up to my life. I can choose how I see myself and that translates to how I move through the world and how others see me. I set the tone for my day by intention. Each morning I can intend to have a good day, or a peaceful day, or a day I feel strong. I can intend every day to live my best life. I can intend daily to be kind, to be loving,  to be a person others feel safe with. I can intend every day to find joy. I can be open everyday to all the Good life has to bring. I can intend to see myself as beautiful and valuable. I can set all these intentions and more because I get to choose how I react to how my life unfolds.

And so do you. This is your day, you week, your life. Honor those whose shoulders you stand on, but stand on your own two feet. Make your own choices, live your best life. See yourself for the beautiful human you are and get out there and let your light shine.

Namaste

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Change, Expansion, family, Growth, Healing, home, Love

Where is home anyway?

First off my friends, I apologize for going missing.  I have been feeding this last year way more than being fed.  I had to go internal for a minute and recharge.  This blog is important to me and I do  a lot of processing here, but lately my mind has been jumbled and the words simply would not take form.  But I am returned and ready to share with you…….

So how do I define “Home”? Is it a place where I reside? Is it a feeling? Is It a community? Is it family? Do I even have one?  Can I have one?  Do I want one?

When I lost the house I lived in, raised my son, had so memories in, I lost my home.  And I have not found it since.  The last 2+ years I live in a nice apartment very comfortably.  It is not home to me. It has given me many things, safety, time to re balance, a place of non attachment, a place of little responsibility. It has been a resting stop and for that I am grateful. The apartment is attached to a home and the owners have put the entire place up for sale.  So for me, that means a change, again.

Here is what I know, I cannot re create the past.  When I think of home I remember my house, my son, my sister, holidays, our pets, my friends, parties.  So many memories I cannot begin to list them. But that is what they are, memories.And I kinda get it, that for me, home is memories, making memories.  You can’t buy that, you can’t move into that, you have to live it.

A long time ago a man asked me “where do you stay?”  It took me by surprise and I said “well I have a home, I stay there”. But now I understand because lately this is where I stay.  I complain that friends and family don’t come here, don’t stop by, but the truth is, I don’t ask them.  I have not wanted to make this my home.  I have been resistant to letting go and moving forward.  I have put all kinds of blocks up and made this into both a refuge and a place of isolation. So while one has served me, the other has saddened me.

Is home a person?  Somehometimes with friends it feels like coming home.  You share laughter and tears.  But home cannot be one person, it is bigger than that. We are bigger than that. Our lives are so big and complex.  There are too many pieces to call one thing home.  I find home in my friends, my family and my community. I hope they find that in me.  Because feeling at home, safe, comfortable and loved, there is nothing on earth that can touch that.  You cannot shrink that down to fit inside walls.

When I moved in here  I was wounded and reeling from the circumstances surrounding me.  But much of that has healed and I am ready for more.  I simply have to decide what that is and manifest it. And what I want is wholeness within the place I live.  I want peace, I want the sounds of nature, I want the feeling of love, especially self love, in my home.  But I also want the world to come by and share my home with me.  I want memories, I want welcoming, I want ease and grace. I think that is what I really want, ease and grace.  And so all of those I shall now have.  I am ready for them.

Because home is not one place.  It is not that simple. What I am seeing is that my life, the wholeness of my life is my home.  I am my home.  Wherever I go, I take my memories with me, I take my sense of peace with me, I take my laughter with me, I take love wherever I go.  So I can never ever be without a home. It will  look different at different times in my life.  And it is up to me to create whatever kind of space I need at that moment.

So whether I stay here or move on is unknown.  I am available and ready for the Universe to send my Good. And some pieces of it have already arrived.  There is comfort and peace in knowing that there is no struggle, there is no worry,  all good comes my way,  ease and grace is mine to enjoy.

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

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family, Gratitude, Growth, Healing, Love, Mother, Relationships

Mother’s Day Without Our Moms

For myself and many of my friends we have Mothers day without our mothers. Be it mom, grandmother, aunt, mothers of our heart, the woman that loved us. They are passed, Whether 1 years, 5 years, 20 years, it doesn’t matter. There is an empty spot where mom should be. There is a sweet longing that comes up, a melancholy for times past and the feel of her hand on my face. I miss her voice, I miss knowing someone loves me, no matter what. I miss having her support and her unwavering belief in my good, even when I wasn’t . That is what a mom does. I miss having that wisdom ahead of me, teaching me. I miss having someone to rebel against. I miss that feeling of two women in the world determined to live their own lives and still be so interdependent in each others. I miss her laughter, I miss her fierceness. I could go on and on.

And I know this is the same for so many of my friends. We are at an age where the torch is passed and we step into the spots our mothers and fathers left behind. There is honor in that. There naturalness and beauty in that. But still, on these special remembrance days, there is a wistful sadness for times past. I guess the best we can do is honor our mothers and stay in a place of love. Take the day and recognize the woman who raised us to be the people we are today. And celebrate the present with the humans who are here with us today. For someday, we, or they, will be a memory. so make it a good one.

Happy Mothers Day my friends.

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challenges, Change, Daily Life, family, Growth, Love, Relationships, Self

Feeling Guilt and Moving Forward

“The problem with surviving was that you ended up with the ghosts of everyone you’d ever left behind riding on your shoulders.”

Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities

Guilt…..guilt of all kinds does not feel good.  That feeling inside of us when something is wrong.  I think you have to be basically a good human to feel guilt.  We have to have the self awareness that our actions or even simply our thoughts, might have caused harm; to other humans, to our planet, to the animals, even to ourselves. So I guess guilt can be a useful tool on the road to growth and self knowledge.  It helps us see what feels right and what does not sit well.

This is what is coming up for me, Survivors Guilt.  Yes I used capitals, yes it feels big. This guilt was not brought on me by anyone but myself. And it comes out of love. I tried to talk about it in class the other night and I could not move the words out of my body,  Maybe I can write them out.

Here is the deal. my sister had a stroke last fall.  She is not really recovering well.  She is in pain every day.  Her left side is compromised and she does not have much use of her left arm and hand. Yes, she goes to therapy, yes there has been improvement, but the truth for today is that life is hard for her.  And I feel horrible.  And I don’t know how to step out of that place. She is my best friend, cradle to grave, she is my girl.

So I try to give her what she needs.  It seems what she needs most is space.  I can’t really get close to her.  I try,  I call, I ask to stop by, I invite her places.  Mostly she shuts me down.  She is in pain and all of those things make it worse.  So we text, maybe talk on the phone.  Yesterday for instance, it is a beautiful day here.  I am headed out for a walk at the lake. I text her to see if I can stop by and visit.  She says no, hard day, going back to bed.

Okay, I go ahead with my day, but there is a sadness and heaviness in my heart.  Because I am out there in this beautiful day with people, and sunshine and laughter.  I am engaging in life, I feel good.  And my sister, my best friend, is laying in bed in pain. How the fuck am I supposed to feel good?  I know it serves no purpose to feel guilty about my good day.  I know she does not want that.  But when I love someone it is hard to be joyful and happy when they are in such a difficult place.  Even though I know it is her path, not mine, I cannot separate my feelings and my humanness.  I have to figure out a way to move forward in my life, but it feels like I am leaving her behind.  And it is breaking me.

I have felt this before, when I was married.  Eight years into my marriage my husband was in a car accident.  He had head injuries.  He was never the same.  Physically he pretty much recovered but mentally there was a disconnect.  There I was, 26 years old, healthy, looking to the future and my husband was changed, damaged, and the man I had married was gone. What do you do?  Well I stayed in the marriage another 12 years until his alcoholism killed our marriage.  But honestly, the accident killed our marriage.  He felt less than the man he had been.   Finally, for myself and my son, I knew I had to survive. It was not safe or healthy for us to live in an alcoholic household. But I knew I was leaving behind someone who who had his chance for a full life stunted.  And I felt horrible guilt.  Guilt that I wanted  everything that life had to offer.  And to have that I would have to sever our relationship.  So I did. There is still, 20 years later, a wistful sadness around that.

Another time I felt this to a lesser degree was when my Mom had a terminal cancer diagnosis.  I remember a short period of thinking this should be me and not her.  But that passed pretty quickly.  I think even in my distress and craziness I realized that thought had no basis or substance.  It was a reaction to everything and my way of trying to take on her pain. To save her.  I could not save her, no one could.  I recognize those thoughts as an emotional reaction to a extreme situation.  And everything after her diagnosis happened so fast the guilt did not have any time to cling to me.

Okay so in writing this I can see my survivor guilt comes up when I truly love the person. I have friends that are fighting cancer or have other big challenges in their lives.  I feel compassion and caring.  I send love and positive thoughts their way. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel it should be me and not them.  I have a healthy boundary around it. But let it be my close loves and  I feel bad that I get to be whole, happy and healthy when they are suffering.  I don’t know how to fix this.  This situation with my sister is a long term process.  I want to move through it with grace and ease.  I want to help her, but also be okay with having joy in my day.  I want to understand that no one (least of all her) want or need me to suffer also. And I do know this mentally, but emotionally I am struggling .

I know her path is her own.  I know i cannot walk that for her.  I know sacrificing my joys serve no one.  So I move forward in my day and in my life.  I see my friends, I connect with family.  I talk with God. I meditate, I walk. I laugh.  I find joy, humor and love out there.  But somewhere inside of me is this little place that knows while I am out celebrating life my best girl is home, in pain and struggling.  And I feel guilty, guilty she does not have the same chance to enjoy her life like I do.

I am working through this, writing it out helps. So if you stayed with me  this long, thank you.  Life is here to teach us, we are here to grow and create.  This is a lesson on my path. Once I learn it, truly learn it, I can release it.  As with everything, baby steps.

Namaste

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challenges, Change, daily practice, family, Growth, Relationships

It is Time to Release the Mantra

I don’t even really know where to start.  2 weeks ago my grandmother passed away and I have so many feelings about it.  They are all mixed up.  She was 94 and lived every day of her life.  Her illness was not lingering, she was not suffering.  She basically lived up until the final day.  The day before she died she sitting up in intensive care talking to me, loving me, and living life. The next day she was gone. That cannot be a bad thing.

But for me, I miss my grandma. And now I am looking at another loss.  I see this news headline and 7 children died in a fire.  How do parents survive that?  I mean, that is a tragedy.  That is a loss.  Everywhere I look I see losses that seem to me greater, more significant than mine.  I think for me, it is just adding them all up. And I feel like it is wearing me down.

My life feels so different now. Quick view:  3 years it looked like this:  I was living in my home of 20 years, I had a mom, I lived with my son and our 2 dogs, my sister lived on the next street, my sister was healthy, I was healthy, I liked my job,  I had a grandmother.

Now much of that is gone, I lost the house, my mom died, my son moved out, we had to put one dog to sleep (old age) and re home the other.  My sister and I live miles apart.  My sister had a health crisis and our relationship is changed.  The stress comes out through a variety of health issues. One of my best friends moved away. The work environment has changed and I am unhappy at my job. I tried to have a romantic relationship, that failed. I am trying to get on feet financially and help my son, it is a constant daily struggle. Now my grandmother has died. It is all adding up. I did the lifestyle stress test, I am in trouble.

And I can feel all of this in my body and I have to fix it.  I am starting to have more nocturnal anxiety attacks. My hair continues to shed, I am tired, I have gained weight.  Everything feels like a struggle and I have no emotional reserves.  I was so drained from the whole losing my mom, my home and all that went with that.  I was just starting to get it together when my sister had a big health crisis last summer.  She is my best friend, and now it has changed so much.  And now a few months later my grandmother is gone. Could all of this just please stop?

I can tell you I am trying to mitigate the stress as much as possible.  I meditate daily, I take long walks to clear my head.  I pray.  I try to spend time with friends but it seems that laughter and fun are missing these days.  Everything seem intense. I really just need to fucking relax and let it go. If you have to work at relaxing is that really relaxing?  I don’t think so. But I have to start somewhere.  When I see my son, what I say is “are you having any fun?”  Could I say that to myself?  Because apparently I am on a roller coaster ride these last few years. I guess I need to learn to love the ride.

I keep thinking of losses, I have lost this, I have lost that. That feels sad, that feels pathetic.  It is a pity party.  The truth is I have lost nothing.  I still have a mom and a grandmother.  They are not in physical form,  but I will always be a daughter and a granddaughter.  The souls we share lives with are never away from us. I know that to be true. And that goes for every being, human or not, that I have loved. Everything else is simply stuff.

I still have a home, a different home.  My relationship with my sister is different, but perhaps there can a deepening from the shared journey.  My son, he loves me, but he lives his own life. Isn’t that what i raised him for? Friends?  Well, even the ones I don’t share my time with now, I can love them and I can know they love me.  And I can welcome the new relationships into my life. Work?  I can keep in front of me the knowledge that I can only do my best, I am not in charge of how others respond.  Because at the end of the day if I have loved some, laughed a little, relaxed, been honest with myself and others, prayed, meditated, had a good meal, took a walk and breathed in nature, and laid down my head safe in my home, what more can I really ask for?  That is life, that is the good life.

So I have to accept change again.  I am doing this guided meditation with Deepak Chopra and the end he says “it is time to release the mantra”.  My mantra has been ” I have lost so much.” It is time to release that mantra.  Because it is not about loss, it never was.  It is about change, and change will always happen.  Change causes me to grow, to stretch myself, to look inside, to be honest, to be brave, to be compassionate.  Change makes me better.  And I will always ask for that, to be better.  And if change is the price, than so be it, I am willing. So no more loss, this is about growth. This is about life. And I am grateful.

And so it is.

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Daily Life, family, Growth, Inspiration, Love, Relationships, Self

Becoming My Own Example

So I think I am becoming my own example.  Today my grandmother is pressing on my mind.  I am thinking of her passing and the influence she had on me.  My grandmother (Maxine) was really really alive every day.  She lived until 94, every day celebrating being alive. And she has been such an inspiration to me.  She lived all alone the last 20 years, but was never lonely.  She had an active social life, church life and family life.  She never quit, ever. She told me, don’t stop. Be thirsty, be honest but caring. Grandma had her nose in everything, she was curious and loved to laugh.  She did not let life get her down, she kept going.

And then I thought of my mom who passed 3 years ago, and all the inspiration she gave me.  She was bold, fierce.  She took crap from no one. Honestly my mom had other issues and ended up allowing her demons to push away many friends and family that loved her.  But the parts that inspired me, she would fight for what she loved. She never let anyone tell her what to do. She was artistic, flamboyant and in your face.  She loved strongly.  She was amazing.

My dad’s mom, Grandma Stell  passed away more than 20 years ago.  She had a laughter to her life.  She always wanted to have fun.  She was southern to the core and sweet tea was always in the house.  She would take 3 different artificial Christmas trees, make them into one and called it  “pretty”. Married multiple times, again a woman who never gave up.   She loved hard, she loved me, she loved my dad. Oh my gosh, she would defend her family,

So all of these women who have loved and raised me are passed now.  And I am a mix of all of them.  All of their examples, all of their lessons have found their way into me.  Everyone of them was strong and stood on her own in her own way.  I realize that I do not have to be Mom, or Little Grandma, or Grandma Stell, I get to be Sandy.  And that takes nothing from them.  They did not live in another’s shadow but shone their own light.  I shine my own light, I beat my own drum.  I take the best from all, and become my own example.  I become my own inspiration.

All of these women lived and died a simple life.  None of them became famous, none of them left a mark beyond their own family, friends and lives.  No one wrote a book,  they were not politicians or great humanitarians.  100 years from we will hard pressed to find a memory, but I remember. And I am here now, and that matters.  This is how life goes on.  We lives our lives best we can.  I take all that I have been blessed with build my life.  I leave my mark on the world, be it simple or not.

So more and more I become my own example.  I live my life no one else’s.  I honor all of those women before who lived their own lives.  I see how different they were and each life was beautiful.  They made their choices, they became who they really were, no apologies. And I can do that too. I become myself, no one else. And I make no apologies.  I can see other examples, I can see the fierceness, the laughter, the lovingness, and the strength.  And instead of saying that is how I want to live, who I want to be, I can just be those qualities.  It takes nothing from those who have gone before, there is enough for everyone.  So instead of saying, this is who I want to be, I become it and say ” This is Who I Am.”

And so it is……

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Choice, Daily Life, daily practice, Growth, Honesty, Love, Relationships

Loving Myself is a Daily Practice

Yesterday I was having lunch with a friend and she was talking about how she is overworked at her job.  She has been working 6 days a week for months now and is feeling the strain in her body.  Here is the deal, although there must be some kind of pay off it is not financial and she is not trying to advance in her job. So why then?  Only she can answer that, but it got me to thinking…..

“self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.”
― Elizabeth Cady Stanton

My response to her it that I will not do for my job.  Maybe a different job at a different time, but not this one. I am clear on my boundaries with my job and I am comfortable with how clean my side of the street is.  But that is just my employment and there is a whole bunch more to my life.  And I do get sucked in.  And why is that?  I guess it changes according to the situation.  In a crisis I step up, no question about that, especially when it is my family. I will set aside my life to help them. If my son called I would set this aside, jump in my truck and go. That is a given.  But I will reclaim my life as soon as possible.

Right now my grandmother is in a convalescent home.  She is improving and right now they say she is going home this week.  I know she would like me to be there every day visiting her.  Not going to happen. She has visitors every day, it does not have to be me.  I love my grandmother so much, but my life is important too.  And I get to take care of myself also.  I think it took me being in my fifties before I could say that comfortably.

Before that I was all about self sacrifice.  I stayed in a marriage too long thinking It was better for him and my son (wrong by the way). I would become over involved in my employment only to see at the end of the day I didn’t own the businesses and everyone can be replaced.  I hung on to friendships past their expiration date thinking I could save something that was over. Even over involvement in volunteering or community becomes draining, stealing the joy from the original intention.  Men, on my gosh, I gave up my life, making theirs the focal point of our relationships. The list goes on…..  If I just loved more, worked harder,  gave everything, well then I would be important, I would be loved, appreciated,  no one would leave me.  It didn’t really work out that way. And now I have learned some lessons from that.

the buddha

At the end of the day no one can bring me happiness beyond myself.  Loving and caring for myself must be first on my list.  To move through life with a full heart, means I have to fill it.  And this is not easy.  It is almost a reflex to say “yes”.  It is how I was raised. My impulse is to set myself aside and take care of you. But is that what is best for me, and in the end you, perhaps not. So I need to be mindful of when and why I say yes.  I need to listen to my body and my heart when it starts saying no. I need to be okay with putting myself first.  And that means unlearning behavior that is years ingrained. Loving myself needs to be a daily practice.

Yes, if you love me, that can make me feel good.  But if you love me and I don’t love myself, I won’t believe you. I won’t trust that love. Because how could you love what I believe to be unlovable?  When I do not value myself what value can you put on me?  If I am so willing to set aside my wants, desires, dreams, time and energy why would you respect them? I want to engage with those people who have a healthy self respect for themselves and their lives.  I want them to love themselves so I can love them back.  Please don’t sacrifice yourself for me, I cannot carry the weight of both of our lives.

This is not about those times when I need help or you need help.  Those are teaching moments in our lives.  Those are moments that give us connection and a sense of belonging outside of ourselves. Those are times when we can almost touch love. It becomes tangible. But to do that without resentment or expecting a return we have to come from a place of love.  And love starts within.  It all comes back to loving yourself.  To loving yourself so much you have love to give others.  You have filled your time and spent your energy so well, you have it to share.

So it is not selfish to say “I love myself first”. It is not wrong to be wise with your time and your energy.  It is okay to say no when something is draining you, taking more than you have to give.  You can put yourself first. This is your day, this is your life. You get to choose how you spend, where you spend and who you spend it with.  Life moves fast and time is precious. Be sure to have time well spent.  And spend that time loving yourself.

Namaste

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