Author’s Note: I found this blog on my computer, written last April, but not published until today.
Writing has become difficult these days. My brain races from topic to topic. One thing I know is that it would be really easy to list the things I don’t have.
- I lost my job today. I don’t have a rainy day fund. Like California, my bank account is in a drought.
- My son may be heading to prison next month. Mental illness combined with addiction just SUCKS. Just when things are going well, “it” comes out and bites you bad, knocks the breath out of you and feels like acid on your tongue.
- The divorce is still not f-ing finished even though we separated almost seven years ago.
- I grieve after putting my goofy big dog down in February because he had a brain tumor.
- Mom is in the hospital again with a blood clot. Not good.
Lucky for me there is something deep down that that moves me and keeps me from getting stuck. “It’s not my style to be negative,” I say when people ask me how I persevere. Don’t get me wrong. I have moments and sometimes days when I slip into sadness. I am human. I walk that fine line; fearing the fall into another depression. (the sticky dark pit)
My strategy? Every day I live what I speak and my strategy is to focus on my choices. Without choices I WOULD feel hopeless. I would be stuck and probably dead.
I ask myself, “If I don’t like it, can I make a change? Will I practice gratitude or wallow in negativity? “
- The Job—I won’t get caught without an emergency fund again. I will find a new job and make good use of the time off.
- My Son—I can’t describe the pain I feel when my son struggles. It is a visceral ache with no remedy that I carry every waking moment and often in my dreams. Despite numerous hospitalizations and arrests, he is alive. He has his own path and purpose in this lifetime. My lesson is to love without judgment while surrendering any concept of blame or control.
- The Divorce—uhhhh. Enough already! I am going to get this done before the end of the year. Realizing I will never receive the apology I seek from the “X”, I can forgive myself and then celebrate my courage, integrity and endurance.
- Bosco—you were one of a kind dog and so many warm memories remain. I did everything I could but you told me it was OK when you stopped wanting to take walks or tear up the garbage.
- Mom– we can spend time together and I can try to help without the pressure of working.
What else will I do?
I will dance
I will cocoon.
I will laugh.
I will sleep.
I will give.
I will learn.
I will breathe.
I remember the day I understood that MY happiness was strictly MY responsibility. I had been...
There is nothing like a trip to another part of the world where you don’t speak the language! Not only do you have to rely on your intuition and read non-verbal signals, you have plenty of time to think and practice surrendering to the moment.
I traveled to Italy to attend an international conference on pain. While my day job looks at the science of pain, I find myself drawn to the developments regarding the psychological management of pain. In one particular conversation with a vivacious Physical Therapist, I shared my personal “health” philosophy. Although I am in good health, the pain in my life is emotionally driven therefore I must focus on finding happiness. She quickly placed her hand on my arm and said, “Do you mean finding meaningfulness or is it just happiness you seek?”
She went on to explain that she looked at happiness as a close ended question—a yes or a no response. “Does this cappuccino make you happy? Today it is not hot enough or big enough so it is easy to say no, I am not happy. However, sharing this time, these thoughts with you is making me happy. I find this time meaningful which makes me happy and I will carry this moment with me. I’ll forget about the coffee but I will not forget about you.”
I felt an electricity course through me. This was an AH HAH moment! Yes, it is meaningfulness I seek—not just happiness. With meaningfulness, happiness is one component but it also includes love, truth, hope, reason, joy, sorrow, purpose, connection……and so many other rich feelings. Meaningfulness is a spectrum of which happiness is one aspect.
THINGS may or may not make you happy but it is through our experiences we extract meaningfulness.
A wave of contentment washed over me the last two days of my trip. While I live with appreciation and gratitude, my experiences and future experiences continue to shape me. Yes, I could do without many of the decisions I face and the sadness I carry, but in the end, I am richer for it having shed the tears and shared the laughter. I have acted on my dreams while the all too familiar voice of fear and criticism taunted me.
I am a better friend, a better woman because I rest on yesterday while I drink in today.
I seek meaningfulness.
From the heart,
I am celebrating Olympic Gold here in the Zen Den!!!
Twenty five years ago I moved to California and in a blink twenty five years later, I am starting again—my way. In just the last two years I have experienced a move, a new job, the death of a parent and deciding to move forward on my divorce PLUS I became an empty nester all while facing my 50th birthday. If I recounted all that has happened in the last five or ten years—you’d swear I was a reading straight from the pages of a great work of fiction. Too much drama for one person to endure!
Therefore, to celebrate the trials and tribulations of my last quarter century, I am awarding myself Gold medals in the categories of Mental Gymnastics and Emotional Track and Field. I have performed like a champion!
Hands down, this is the happiest time of my life. Why you ask? Because I learned that being happy begins with the intention of being happy; then you have to make happy happen. Make more happy, think less crappy. (I have not been drinking (much) today.)
I minimize, eliminate and avoid the things that don’t make me happy. Let me clarify, I don’t avoid responsibility. I live through uncomfortable moments and learn from them. I refuse to be victimized by my struggles. Where there is pain there is growth whether I am ready for it or not. I don’t grin and bear it but rather I grit my teeth and swear.
I also laugh at the weirdest moments. Like when I walked into the county jail to visit someone only to realize I was wearing my bright red 4th of July tank top that said, in sequins no less, “I Love Freedom”. I didn’t plan this of course—I wouldn’t be that insensitive. There lies the funny.
I also thanked a quiet man who approached me in the grocery store yesterday to say, “Your aura is huge and warm and that of a healer. Standing next to you I feel just as good as when I am home cuddling with my eight cats.” I kid you not. It was a “bless your heart” moment –more sweet than creepy. I’ve decided that I may be a super hero in disguise and since the name Kittylicious is already taken, you can call me Madam Meow. Is this funny or is it just me??
Or the time I was standing in the library when a wiry four foot tall silver haired elder grabbed a book right out of my hands saying she had seen it first, she just needed time to walk across the room to pick take if off the shelf. One of the few times I found myself speechless! Had to laugh at that one…. I was bullied by a tiny granny!
The brain is pliable and can be rewired for positivity after just a few weeks of concerted effort. If you feel that you have nothing to celebrate, look again. You may be looking for miracles while missing...
Some things don’t change and in this case, it’s a good thing!
My friend Simone and I were sifting through a box of old photos and memorabilia this weekend. There in a wrinkled envelope, written on index cards, was a speech I wrote when I was eighteen years old. Of course, Simone couldn’t resist a reading it through it. Yes, reading it, in full character voice as well pointing out each one of my spelling errors! (Spell check hadn’t been invented yet—dare I date myself?)
In the speech, I shared my wishes for my classmates, friends and family.
–to find a career filled with passion while leaving time to play and rest (did you notice that CAREER was the first thing on the list? I was a product of the times—ready to take on a man’s world.)
–to practice patience, especially during the most trying times (overrated; nothing more to say. Next!)
-to understand the importance of a sense of humor (absolutely – how wonderful it is to laugh so hard you snort or squizzle)
–and finally, friendships are the key to living a long healthy life (AMEN! Enough said)
I have a hard time connecting to the person I embodied at eighteen but it is pretty cool to see I was already inspiring people to find happiness and live with passion! The words may have sounded foreign but they served as a compass for my life. I still follow this compass but now I call it, “My Girlfriend Voice”.
And by the way, this photo shows that some of my best times were in my robe and PJ’s. Some things never change! (me at 18 in red bandana)
From the heart,