Dear Young Lady,

I recently read your article about why you can’t forgive your mother, and I want you to know that I understand how you can be so angry. Her role in your abusive childhood was unconscionable and I grieve for you. Not just for what you went through, but what you are going through now.

Rage. I know what that is like. When you want to scream and hurt and rebel against the things you had no control over. I see it in you because I have first known it in me.
But here’s the thing:

The rage is part of the problem.  The wanting your mother to be something she isn’t is also part of the problem. The good news is, that these are things you have some control over. Acceptance that your mother is what she is, (and that she may never change) is imperative to your own mental health. You don’t have to approve of it, but accepting it essential. You can’t change anyone, just yourself and how you feel about it. If you find her behavior and her attitude is unacceptable, then don’t continue to put yourself in a position where you have to endure it.

Be honest with yourself. And your mother. Tell her what your issues are with her and then tell her that your own peace of mind is your priority, and then make it a priority. Take control of how you interact with her and if that means no interaction, then so be it. Write the pain out. Paint the pain out. Do whatever it takes to come to a place of pure peace in your heart. And once you can understand yourself and love yourself…perhaps you will have some love and understanding for your mother.

And don’t be afraid. You are the master of your own destiny. You can choose to NOT be like your mother. Find the person inside of you that you really want to be and then BE her. You get to choose! (Life is awesome that way!)

I sincerely hope that by writing your story down and admitting to the world that you have been hurt….and still hurt….and want to stop hurting….that you have set your feet on the path to healing. I pray that you find peace.

Just Be

This morning (early) I was sitting at my desk area where I do my praying, journaling and then my art work, just like I do every morning. The area is a place where I plug in the headphones and listen to some meditation music (something with a droning background because I find that soothing) and write my morning pages. To be quite honest, they aren’t exactly morning pages anymore, but more of the things that I am grateful for and the things that touch my heart.
After I completed, my ‘official’ journaling, I started to write about this weeks prompt in the Journal52 art group that I belong to on Facebook. This weeks prompt is JUST BE, and I wanted to clarify in my head what that meant to me before I started thinking about the art page. Here is an excerpt from that:

    So what does “Just Be” mean to me? It makes me think about being mindful…to fully experience each moment. No thinking about the past. No thinking about the future. Just to notice what is going on in this moment that I am experiencing right now.

In this moment NOW, I am hearing the music play in my headphones and feeling (hearing?) a low level vibration from the furnace running. I feel the gentle warmth on my hand, from the lamp. 

I also feel a ‘bubble’ of light surrounding me. Yet I sense the darkness surrounding me right outside of the bubble. Not a “bad” darkness, just the sense that the light is emanating from me.

That was my AH HA! It was a feeling of security and comfort knowing that my joy of my “being-ness” was dependent upon nothing external, but that it shined from within.

So, I have my visual for my journal page. Now I just need to execute it!

Heart Chakra

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I have been participating in Whitney Freya’s 21 Day Painting Meditation Challenge Normally, I don’t participate in art challenges, because I get so distracted from my own path that I end up just dropping out. But, since this one is also a meditation challenge, which I DO, I thought perhaps it would work for me, and I am pleased to announce that it is!

Today was day 4 and the color is green and the chakra was the heart chakra. We only use tones of green to paint. I have been just allowing myself to be in the moment, and make marks on the page with no intention of design. Just letting it flow.heartchakra

This was today’s effort. It might not be much to look at to anyone except to me, but it is stunning in what knowledge that I gained from this.

When I was a little girl, my father told me that I should not “wear my heart on my sleeve.” All of my life, I have done this….I can’t NOT do it…and have borne the guilt and shame of that. Today…I realized, that there is no shame in that. My strength comes from Creation (as symbolized by the round shape and leaves in my painting) and when you have that kind of strength…you are “heart strong”. The lines, both straight and curved, I believe indicate my path….the path of putting my heart “out there.”

Thank you Whitney Freya…for teaching me that in the simplest of things….that I can find such deep meaning.

A (much needed) Reminder of God’s Grace and Faithfulness

Last night, I was vegging out in front of the television watching an episode of a show that I have been binging on. During the show, almost every show, the husband and the wife end the day kissing and forgiving each other for the strife they put each other through. Although, their relationship is not the focus of the show, I admire how they can get so angry at each other, yet they never let those trials get to the deep core of their love for each other.

Sometimes this is a hard show for me to watch, because I find myself envious of that kind of relationship. For the past couple of weeks, I have had a difficult time coming home alone at night, and trying to understand why after all this time, I am still alone. Last night, while I was watching the show, I teared up when the couple “made up” totally convinced that I will never have that kind of relationship again. And I got angry. How could God let this happen? I went to my journal and wrote…

“This is how S________ must have felt every time she went to a baby shower, and every time she heard of someone being pregnant, when she wanted a baby so very much.” A lady I know, (who shall remain nameless) had been married for 6 years and wanted a child so much. Yet, she was pretty sure that she would never have children because her husband, had had cancer and would not be able to father any. They were trying to find a child to adopt, but that was not going well either. Yet eventually, they found a child to adopt. And then…they ended up having two sons of their own. God in his faithfulness, blessed that couple because of THEIR faithfulness.

This morning, I have a different perspective. I realize now that what seemed like a sorrowful thing for that couple, eventually became their greatest joy. God, in his steadfast love and faithfulness will turn this around for me. Not in my limited view of time….but in HIS time.

I will go about this business of living, and be joyful and at peace knowing that all is well…and will continue to be well…

Stewed Tomatoes! (And other food recollections…)

So, I went to the Cobden Farmers Market this morning, which is just a couple of Old guys selling veggies out of the back of their trucks. ( I use the term Old guys most respectfully!) There, I bought a box of tomatoes for $5. ALOT of tomatoes…mostly the not so pretty ones. At any rate, I was thinking about making some stewed tomatoes…and that thought made me think of my mother.

My mother wasn’t the best cook in the world, but we got by. We would have fish sticks or fish squares maybe once a week. Really the only kind of fish we ever had (unless we were at Grandpa and Grandma’s and they fried up some fish.) (But I digress…) Along with the fish, we always had Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese dinner, and stewed tomatoes. And lots of bread and butter, because as Mom said, if the fish has bones in it, the bread and butter will keep you from choking on the bone. (I’m pretty sure there is no scientific evidence for this.)

Another one of my mother’s tried and true recipes, was Spaghetti with meat sauce. Sauce being plain old tomato sauce, but her secret ingredient was a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce. (!) This too was served with bread. Wonder bread cut on the diagonal with butter spread on it, sprinkled with garlic salt, and browned under the broiler. Also, fried potatoes. We never had spaghetti that we didn’t have fried potatoes.

We also ate pancakes for dinner a lot, with homemade white syrup. Mom would take a cup of sugar and a half a cup of water and cook it until it was thickened. Top those pancakes with a generous (one small) pat of Blue Bonnet margarine and homemade syrup, and BAM! Cheap dinner.(No wonder I hated pancakes for many years afterwards.)

Occasionally, we would have canned soup for dinner. Ned and Phil would split a can of tomato soup, Mom and I would split a can of chicken noodle soup, and Dad would get a can of either split pea or bean soup. Along with the soup we would have bologna sandwiches…made on white Wonder bread, of course.

The best meal though…was Sunday morning breakfast. Fried eggs, bacon, toast, biscuits (canned) and gravy. It wasn’t the food so much…it was that we all sat down together. Even after the first two grandkids came along. We would all be at Mom and Dad’s for Sunday breakfast.

The Spirit of Ellen

Each day, I sit at my desk to paint or draw, and I think of her. I’ve only to raise my eyes to the wall above my drawing board to see one of her paintings….Image

or…her hand written list of paint mixtures:

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and her spirit is right there with me. 

      By the time I met Ellen, her dementia had robbed her of her painting….but it didn’t rob her of the things that she taught me the most. Humility, gentleness, kindness, thankfulness, love, and the power of prayer.

     You are no longer with us, Ellen….but oh…you are so not forgotten….

 

Prayer (in a whole new light)

     I have never considered myself as a person who is very good at praying. And in truth, until the past year or so, I have not done much of it other than the occasionally “Oh God, Help me,” or an occasional prayer memorized and said in unison with others. These are very valid prayers, but I have discovered that praying is so much more…..richer and fuller than that. 

    Praying is not just a begging of favors from God. It is an opportunity to put yourself in a peaceful place and to remember others or situations that might be in need of some positive energy, and a time to quiet your mind and listen for possible resolutions…to hear God speak to you in return. So many of us forget that part….that God will provide us with help and comfort, if we quiet our minds enough to actually receive it.

   During my “prayer journey” I have had other insights into the power that prayer can offer. I have realized that God’s world is perfect, and  If I don’t see it as such then it is my perspective or judgments that keep me from “seeing” that perfection. It is important to open your heart to the possibility that the “problem” or “issue” that you are praying about is essential to the spiritual growth and the fulfillment of someone’s “soul” purpose.

    I have also discovered that when I consciously pray for a specific situation or person two things happen…1.) I realize that I have an opportunity to hold that situation/person in a place where I can flood it with the energy of love and acceptance; and 2.) I remember that I am not alone in my own human frailties, and that if I can ask for, receive, and accept the thought that someone else is in trouble, not perfect, and deserving of God’s love and perfection, then I am worth of that same Grace.

    My heart is tender and open these days and I am apt to see things in a more generous and forgiving light. Those tears that are running down my cheeks? Awe in the face of God….

Repairing Damage Done

     This is hard. Maybe the hardest thing I have ever written. Yet, I know that I must write about this in order to be totally healed from the damage done. Warning: this could contain triggers for those who are fragile.

     From mid-January, I have been having bouts of acid reflux. For the past month, it has been almost constant. I have felt sick, and been unable to eat anything that didn’t make me hurt. Applesauce. I could eat that and be okay. I have been taking some medicine for it, and it seems to have gotten a little better, but it had not gone away.

    I was sitting at my computer yesterday morning, and I was watching a video of a man and a woman dancing. I think they were in some sort of contest. He was a tall, heavy-set man and she looked like someones mother. Yet they were dancing like pros, and having the time of their lives. I was amazed that a man of that size could move that well, yet he was so happy and so joyful. 

     That’s when I had a moment of self realization. I had been judging him because of his size. (I am ashamed of this and it is very difficult to write about.)  This brought on some self examination, and I realized that I judge people ALOT. (Maybe I don’t verbalize it, but its there.) Worse than judging others, I have judged myself. I even know how I came to be judgmental.

     Growing up, my mother always nagged me about my weight. She would promise me a new wardrobe, if I would just lose weight. Once, she bought me a really pretty yellow dress that didn’t fit me, and told me that I could wear it when I lost weight. That dress hung in my closet forever. I never did wear it. I don’t believe my mother intentionally wanted to hurt me, but hurt me it did, and it left life long scars. I formed a few beliefs that have never left me:

–That she couldn’t love me if I were fat.
–That I was not good enough.
–That I was ugly.
–That being fat was wrong.

     So, yesterday when I was thinking of all of this, I felt something loosen in my chest. I checked myself for pain, and found none. No acid reflux! I took myself out for breakfast, where I ate responsibly. I didn’t “stuff” myself. (Much like I have stuffed my feelings all my life.) When I was full, I quit. All day yesterday…no pain. I recognized the difference between being physically hungry and when I was emotionally hungry. I believe all of this has been the Universe’s wake up call to me. A time of honesty and truth that came about as a result of asking God to help me not be judgmental. In order for Him to get my attention, He had to do something drastic. 

     I feel so much better today. And I am not angry at my mother. I know she was trying, in her own inept way, to make life easier for me. Parents, just accept your children and love them exactly as they are.

     Putting this out there, is difficult for me and several times, I have stopped and tried to decide if I can really bare this in public, but I have this feeling that in order to accept myself fully, I have to confront all of this fully and not hide it. So, if you are reading this, please know that (somehow) I got the courage to hit the “Publish Post” button, and try not to be judgmental…

Thoughts on May 21, 2014

     I wanted to write this yesterday, but I just couldn’t get my mind together enough to make sense of the moment that I had a greater understanding of things. But first I have a confession to make.

     I have long held the opinion that Satan and Hell did not exist. My belief has been that love (God) is all there is, except that there might be varying degrees of it. That what people label as “hell” is just our own self-imposed distance from God. That part of my belief, is still true (at least to me) yet there is more to that. This is a dualistic world and you can’t ignore that there is darkness in the world, just as there is light…that there is fear just as there is love…that there is stress just as there is peace. And that’s when my understanding occurred. 

     The devil is a sneaky bastard. In our world today….he comes to us…EACH of us….as  anger, fear, stress, self loathing, and all the dark and negative emotions that we experience, and Hell is the feeling of pain and loneliness we feel when we let ourselves be consumed by those negative emotions. EVERY time we feel angry…or afraid….or negative…we are allowing “Satan” to touch us. Our bodies tense. Our heart rates increase. Our blood pressure rises. We cut ourselves off from the flow of goodness and mercy that is our Divine birthright.  He creates dis-ease in us, and this disease will kill us eventually.

   There is Good News however. It doesn’t have to be this way. We have been given the power to make choices. We can–through meditation, prayer, music, etc.–calm our minds and spirits and learn to live in the present moment where Love, Peace, and Harmony exist within us. Awareness is the key. Be aware of when you are angry and fearful and stressed and know that YOU have the power to turn you back on the darkness and bask in the glow of the divine.

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The Flip Side: Thoughts on Duality

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Yesterday, I had a conversation with a co-worker about living with an open heart. (Which birthed an entire conversation with myself about duality.More on that in a moment or two.) I related to my co-worker that my father had told me on several occasions that I “wore my heart on my sleeve.” Meaning that you could always tell how I felt about something by my emotional reactions. And it’s true. I did wear my heart on my sleeve and STILL DO.

I have tried for a very long time to break myself of that. Break myself…now there is an interesting turn of a phrase. Why would I want to “break” myself? (Which I think I have come very close to on occasion.) I have tried to keep my emotions hidden and have found myself totally unable to function. Frozen.  Sometimes, for days. That didn’t work for me.  So I let the emotions come, but then I hated myself for that.

As I have walked this spiritual path, in the past few years, I saw myself experiencing ecstatic highs, and a deep yearning for that “high” when I would find myself in a “low” place. Duality. Why does the world have to be both high and low? And I have fought. Fought duality. Loved myself when I was in the good place emotionally, and hated myself when I was in the bad place. Love. Hate. Good. Bad. Duality.

But here’s the thing….Life is change. Up. Down. Happy. Sad.  I can close myself off from all of it, and just not care. Or…I can live with an open heart and experience it all. I choose an open heart, which I will wear proudly on my sleeve. I WILL know joy and sorrow. Peace and anger.  I will embrace those lows, acknowledging that they are a part of me and I don’t have to hate them. They all pass. And I won’t apologize for that tender heart there on my sleeve.

Life is just too short to not love yourself fully….