April 20, 2015

Waking Up, What Am I Thinking?

Today I learned that my three minute meditation is the most important part of the mindfulness practice I am learning, for my current anxiety and (hopefully passing) depression.

Later, in Centering Prayer, it was particularly poignant that I heard these words, which I shall paraphrase:

 To be awake is  "to know that what we think has an effect on how we feel, that what we feel has an effect on what is:   thoughts and words are the tools with which we forge our lives." 

 When I am awake, then I can find myself, and listen to myself. I can hear my thoughts, feel my body.  Waking up is a process.  It is soul work, to  discover the truth of me, and align myself with that.  I do think this is what Step Four is all about, and why I must go through Step Eleven (prayer and meditation) to really awaken.  To awaken will eventually mean that  I shall eventually "experience every tragic and terrible thing, knowing that it holds a lesson for [me]." 

I get the impression the lessons are not meant to be the punishment I was raised to believe.  Thanks, Jan Philips (The Book of Hours for a Prophetic Age) for this message of hope. 

April 17, 2015

Hiding the Truth in Plain View

"The trouble with lying and deceiving is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide."
~Hannah Arendt
I am glad I came across this quote, today, AFTER I sent my mom the letter that she received last Friday. In it, I avoided admitting I had seen my uncle (dad's last surviving sib now), but I did not lie.
I told another truth instead, one my mom had not asked me about. That I was glad to meet Aunt E.n in the nick of time.
When she asks me (for she will once her courage returns), "Did you see your Uncle 'J,' too," I will not lie, nor will I speak the truth. 
For her deception so trivializes my own need to protect myself. I might switch the topic to the one that is most important to me, and motivated me to find my dad's family, "behind her back" as she would put it.  I can imagine saying,   "Mom, what matters to me, is that I finally have a sense of what my dad's people are like. Why was  it was so important to keep us apart, for fifty years, so that I only now can appreciate Uncle's daughter? When we talked, I discovered she and I lived an hours drive away, when we were in college!"

April 9, 2015

Time for You To Find Emotional Peace?

Are you challenged by resentment, depression, anxiety and other troublesome emotions?

Ever wonder if the 12-steps could work for dealing with emotional discomforts? Come and join us in sharing personal experience and discussion  of "how it works."

Start today. Find your path towards emotional healing, through our shared spiritual course.


There Is No Right Way to Do Step Eleven

This past week, I have been using a book on mindfulness meditation that is for all of what I have felt since February:   Ennui, boredom, depression, anxiety.

I discovered it by accident at my local bookstore:  The Mindful Way Workbook... to free yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress.  Thank goodness for that being the only title at the store or I would be using multiple books and thinking I needed one for each emotion that is troubling me! 

Since about mid-February, I have been wrestling with  each head of multi-headed hydra. No longer, for my book puts it straight. I don't have to wrestle with the heads anymore, or try to vanquish the hydra.

Now I get to just be Aware of the hydra.

It is funny how the arms wave at me, even when I am doing a body scan.  A few of the thoughts that come up as I listen to the accented English of the instructions: "Just 38 minutes? Wait, the time in the book says, 45.   Either way, why won't 20 minutes suffice? ....Oh no, I am not breathing very deeply. Uh-oh,  am focusing on the wrong foot. What did he just say about how to breathe into my leg?"

When it is time to sense my body, I am not quite sure I feel the skin on my foot. I do feel my neck tense on the pillow, and I am tempted to judge that. Almost. Then, comes the sense of amazement when I do feel my neck release ever so slightly. (It helps to put a rolled towel under the cervical curve at the back of my neck.)

What are my feelings?  Well it is thrilling to be aware that I actually did relax and by the very end, when I hear the bell "ting," I am surprised it's over. I want more. And, I feel like stretching in the luxurious way that a cat does....


April 6, 2015

Dear Challenging Parent, Nothing Without a Green Light

Dear CP,

If I understand correctly, you have a concern that you might be included in a story that would feature something unfavorable about you.

Do you see your full name anywhere on the internet? I thought not.  I have love to share, and I seek understanding of myself in relation to others.   This means I have no desire to publish anything at your expense.    No intent to publish any story about you, in any form, that would be hurtful.

In fact, you already have seen anything that includes our story that would be considered "published." (Everything else remains in letters between us).  There's nothing, absolutely nothing, that would result in financial gain or defamation.  Prior to any publication of any kind of work that names you, professional integrity demands it be read by you.   I live by that standard.  This anonymous blog is by me and about me, and what I have written here about you, does not violate that standard, because I do not include my own name here, nor otherwise identify you or anyone close to you.

The truth I live by is this: "Each of us has our own story and we write it to help ourselves survive."  Our stories need not agree, in order to help us survive.  Your story contains part of mine. And Einstein said (I paraphrase), that if we achieve anything, it is because we acknowledge the lessons and accomplishments of those on whose shoulders we stand. This means that my story must have part of yours in it, or I am not being respectful of where I come from.

Again, IF there is a story that would benefit others, that identifies you in it, we would both know and agree! Or we would use the legal guidelines of a respected publisher to make the story fictional, but still reflective of the history you lived through, without using your identifying characteristics.

Until that time, if ever, I am happy to consider practicing the craft of writing, privately between us.

Letters are a good start, though I know you don't like writing.  Got concerns? Do put them in writing, and watch how our correspondence may change and heal you.

Best, your daughter

April 5, 2015

Step One with My Mom

What brings me here, to write today, is that I am finally realizing how powerless I am to change the relationship with my mom.  I am also powerless over my feelings of anxiety and insecurity about this.  I thought I was making important changes, by my willingness to "keep coming back" and not giving up on our relationship. 

But these past months,  I have been hearing some old refrains from mom, that I know I put to rest over a decade ago.  First I was told that making contact with my mom's family, in order to have a more complete life, makes me a bad person in her eyes. But wait,  that contact was forged, through my initiative, almost 40 years ago! Later,  I lived, by God's providence, in the same state as my mom's relatives, for nearly a decade.  That made me a real family member. And as God is my witness, I rarely spoke of my mom, or her and my challenges with one another, without seeking to have compassion for her. I always looked for the good. 

By getting to know aunts and uncles, I gained so much hope, actually, and that staying in touch with my mom would help us all heal.  I got to realizing how much my mom and her mom had in common, and that each of them did their best in rearing their children.  Call me Pollyanna. 

Through all of this, my parents (and I) continued to get older.  This this past year, I took the next step of understanding the other side of who I am(my dad's genes and family history), before it was too late.  I, by God's grace, was able to find dad's last surviving siblings. You would think, from the way my mom is handling this, that by doing this, I was seeking to betray her!

I know my intentions were and are good, but in her mind... I am actually trying to "sell" her story. Were she to even see these words, she would probably think they too were something I was promoting to others, rather than something I do, just for me.  (At this point, if I were to handwrite this, I probably would tear it up and throw it away. Mostly because I am concerned that it won't have any redemptive power for myself or anyone else. I am terrifically worried it won't have a happy ending no matter how hard I work at my part.)

Just me, working the part one of my favorite slogan,  "Know yourself, be honest."  The only person I can know truly is me, of course. It is also true that, when I see some of my family patterns, I can better see where I may need to do some retooling or relearning...

March 31, 2015

Horses and Chickens and Cows, Oh My!

A long, long time ago...

Wild horses, chickens  and cows (who are all girls and moms, by the way),  had to be tamed before humans could use them as farm animals and for food.   The tame horses, cows and chickens also had to come to America with humans across the Atlantic ocean,  hundreds of years ago.  

Domesticated horses originally came from the grasslands of Russia; cows (or cattle) came from Europe and Asia, and chickens were originally jungle fowl from Southeast Asia. 

When these animals live on your farm, they are most happy and healthy when they eat the same foods they ate when  in their original homes in nature.   That's why horses and cows (or cattle, which is plural girl AND boy groups of this animal) are most healthy when they eat mostly grass their whole lives, and only small amounts of grain or alfalfa. Cows (cattle) have four stomachs so they can chew the cud and break down grasses completely. Horses don't need extra stomachs to break down their grass, they have large intestines that do that.  And if you look closely at their poops you will see that one of these animals (can you guess which?) will have chunks of hay it it, while the other will be more, well, sloppy.

You probably think of chickens as eating grains, like corn, or wheat. But in nature, they are not likely to find seed-bearing grasses like that. In the jungles, where wild chickens still live, they are more likely to eat bugs and grubs. In fact, most birds prefer to eat some kind of insects when they are laying eggs.

A farmer named Joel Salatin has found a wonderful way to grow cattle and chickens on his farm, and also make his soil and land healthy.  He has a hilly farm, whose soils were very torn apart (eroded) when his father bought the farm. Over many years, his family learned they could reduce erosion by growing grass. Grass needs grazers, or animals that like to eat grass, to stay healthy.  But it is important that the animals not eat the grass to the ground or that will kill the grass.  Grass eaten to a few inches high, will grow deep roots and build dark rich soil. To keep his soil healthy like this, Joel has a special way he "herds" his animals across his hilly farm.  He moves wire fences to create smaller squares of field for the animals to graze more closely together,  and invites the lead animal to lead the rest of the cattle into the grazing area he has made with his moveable fence. The cattle eat a few days, chewing from one corner the other, leaving their poops (or cow patties) behind. When the grass is the right length, Salatin shoos them into another square pasture that he creates with his moveable (moo-vable) fencing. And on they will go, moved on by the moveable fence, one cow leading the others… to new fresh pasture, each time the grass is clipped by their grazing, to just the right height. Each time they leave behind their many poops, scattered over the field, ready for insects to lay eggs in. 

A day or two after he moves the cattle to a new field,  Joel Salatin brings his chickens on the land the cattle has left behind. He has a special name for his moveable coops; he calls them "egg mobiles."  In the cow patties, guess what the chickens find?  Lots of hatching insects that are rich in fats that help the chickens lay wonderful eggs with orange-yellow yolks.  

The  land, just like the chickens, likes it when the healthy (oops) poops are left on the land to break down and fertilize the soil and grasses. 

Yes, and we humans thrive on these kind of eggs, produced by chickens are raised in the out of doors, where they can eat the food they do best on!

This is a bit off my usual topic of recovery, but I share here because my niece Emerson has asked me to help her understand how animals can help us humans and the environment.  Here's to  all of us being the change we need, for our planet and our creatures, great and small.