Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2006

Forty-one years ago this evening something happened that changed my life completely. I did not know it then, I did not know it for a number of years.

It was a dark and stormy night. I was twenty-two years old, with an abusive partner, a 15-month-old daughter and was a little over 6 months pregnant. We had purchased one side of a side-by-side duplex, which had been created by dividing an old wooden church in half. The ancient cemetery stones had been arranged in a mound across the street, between the house and the river. It was a move from the city to a small suburb where we felt it would be better for raising children.

The last load of plants and more delicate items, and it was freezing rain, dark and cold. I was frozen, exhausted and hardly able to pick up one more box when a car stopped on the street and a young man got out. He came up to the van and asked if we could do with a hand. It was the most wonderful thing anyone could have done for us right then. He helped us unload, then over the next few months, visited often, babysitting on occasion and hanging out with my husband quite a lot. I found out he lived a little farther up the road and was into motorcycles and the typical things that people were doing in the mid sixties.

Slowly, he saw the abuse I suffered and became more and more comforting toward me. After a year or more of this, he told me that I would not be able to handle the treatment forever and would leave my husband. When I did so, he wanted to marry me. I did not believe so because I had grown up without a father, and was determined that my children would not have to do so.

When I was in an accident a hundred miles from home, he somehow knew I was in trouble and “dropped by” my mother’s place to see what was up. When my oldest daughter passed away at the age of five, three years after I had met him, he was there for me even when my husband went to his brother for comforting and only showed up for the funeral. Whenever I was in need, he was there, never pushing but never going away either.

Finally when my younger daughter was five, my husband threatened her life and the next day, I left him, staying as far away from my friends as I could. I knew there could be a lot of trouble. When my husband hunted me with a gun, I could not even get police intervention, as my husband had not actually shot me. Eventually, I let my friends know where I was, and this young man again took up the task of being my friend with a vengeance. He would sit with me for hours when he knew I was troubled until I could find the words to tell him what was wrong. He brought me flowers; he treated me like I was special, which had never happened to me before.

We were married in August of 1973 and have gone through life together since. It has not all been fun, it certainly has not all been easy, but it has all been worth while. He has understood me when no one else did; he supported me even when he did not understand me. He has saved my life, literally, more than once. If there is good in me it is because my grandparents planted the seeds and he tended the garden and believed in me, allowing me to flourish.

We will spend this evening, like so many other New Year’s Eves, together over a gourmet meal we have prepared ourselves and reminisce about the years gone by and those yet to come, together, always together.

My wish is that each and every one finds a partner who is as loving, kind and devoted as he has been to me.

Happy New Year

Monday, December 25, 2006

Making Christmas

Regardless of whether Christmas is a religious festival or a simple gathering and celebration of love and family unity, the important thing is to celebrate it in a way that brings joy to all involved. Almost all religions have a Celebration around this time of year, and even if one is not religious, my partner tells me that there is a winter festival called Festivus, which is the “Festival For The Rest Of Us”.

After all these years, a set of circumstances and a lot of contemplation brought me to the conclusion that the ability to make Christmas is not built into the genes, it is a learned skill, usually learned in the bosom of a family who makes Christmas as their elders did for generations, with updates on techniques, of course. Those who did not grow up under such circumstances, find it very hard to learn how to make Christmas. They have probably always gone looking for Christmas at friends and more distant relatives homes, or grown up hating Christmas.

For the first time this year, a whole series of stray thoughts fell together to create a picture of how Christmas is made. I have a very dear friend who never experienced really celebrating Christmas growing up, who has a hard time figuring out how to make the Holidays a season of love and joy. He used to get up in the morning and after breakfast, go visiting to find Christmas. Now in his older years, he has found himself in the position of having to struggle with making Christmas.

With no memories of warm caring rituals, such as making special foods and meals, car rides to look at the lights, finding and decorating the tree as a family, or the fun and anticipation of having the family all together at this season, or picking and wrapping gifts he hopes will delight the recipient, he is at a loss as how to start making Christmas his own.

I grew up in the country, in a very financially poor family, however we did go all out to celebrate Christmas in the best way we knew how. We cut and dragged in our own tree, set it up in a pail of rocks and added guy wires so it would not fall over. We made popcorn garland, white tissue paper icicles, tinfoil glitter, and wood and pine cone ornaments, with a few treasured glass ones saved from year to year. We made fruit cake, aged it for 3 months in air tight tins and made cookies and special pancake breakfasts and a turkey for Christmas Dinner, the biggest one we could get so there would be leftovers for weeks. I no longer follow that particular tradition. I don’t believe it matters what the traditions are, as long as they are family traditions, filled with loving memories to be recreated each year along with the current year’s tree, trimmings and new traditions.

When my children were small, we made decorating the house a big deal, with every nook and cranny filled with glittering decorations, saved from year to year. As they grew, the amount of decorating was reduced until now, in my later years, we still do the tree, some table and wall decorations, and a small outside decoration at the door to welcome people in. Even when lights became available for both tree and outdoor use, it did not really appeal to me as growing up there were no lights. We now have lights on the tree, but still do not do the outdoor lights. We do, however always go for a car tour to look at all the outside lights that people put up and when we can, take pictures of the major displays. I always feel like a small child, eyes wide in wonder at all the light and color. I almost have to come home and put Alka-Seltzer in my eyes to calm the optical indigestion of having done so much looking.

In the natural progression of things, the children grow up, move away from home, but come home for the holidays with great anticipation of recreating the magic that was Christmas in their youth. When they marry, they blend the traditions of both families, to begin a new tradition of their own, and often spend Christmas Day with one family and Boxing Day with the other. Then when a new generation of children comes along, the young people begin having their own Christmas Celebration at home with the children, inviting the grandparents to come and participate, seeing the magic and wonder through eyes of children once more. At that point, the older generation has done its work and can sit back, do minimal decorating, minimal cooking then spend extra hours finding just the right thing to tickle the grandchildren on Christmas Morning.

As we age, the other thing that happens is that we lose loved ones from year to year, making Christmas a bitter-sweet time, a time of remembering those who have passed on as well as a time of making new memories for the younger generation. How we handle this will determine how the new generation handles it in future, so even this is an important part of the Christmas Tradition that we make.

Those who have children and do not know how to make Christmas, owe it to the next generation to find out, figure out, look around, whatever has to be done to learn to make Christmas, with new traditions, new rituals, new family processes that can be used to make Christmas for the children. There is a huge buffet of rituals out there to choose from if being totally creative is too difficult. If this is not done, they will not know how to do it when they grow up and the rituals of either hating the whole Holiday season or having to go to their friend’s homes to find the Christmas Spirit are perpetuated.

And that is my Christmas Rant for this year. May you all have a wonderful Holiday season and the New Year bring joy, health and success in all you do.

…Z

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blessings of the Season




I would like to thank everyone who reads my blog and everyone who has left such wonderful comments. You make it worth while.


May you enjoy the Blessings of the Season and a wonderful joyous New Year.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Sister

For the first nine years of life I did not have a sister.
I didn't know I needed one!
Then you came along, all pink, spun gold and blue eyed,
and suddenly I had a sister!
You made me laugh, you made me cry, you even bit me,
and made me carry you when you got tired.
You kept growing and even after I left home
I still had a sister!
You came to visit me and I loved to show you around and show you off,
my sister!
I moved to the other side of the country and went home
to visit my sister!
For years I lost my sister, I didn't have a sister.
I knew I needed one!
Then, when I was at death's door, my daughter took it on herself
to bring me back my sister!
Finally, looking at the cards and gifts she sent me, signed
with love from my sister.
Seeing the ornaments that decorate each gift, like we used to do,
again I have my sister.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More for you, Margie




A couple more pictures for you, Margie. I know what it is like to love a place you can not be right now. Should you come home for a visit, don't forget to let me know and we can meet. I would enjoy that.










A Train Ride

This was written long ago, and as time passes, I understand more and more what my conscious mind did not have the words to express at that time. We can not think about that which has no reality in our minds. Instead we have to find symbols that the mind can accept and express.


I stood at the door, staring out at the night,
alone in the crowd, on the train that night.
The stops went by, the doors closed tight.
My panic rose and I had to fight
the fear that rose in my heart that night.

I felt something wrong, they thought it right
to travel to nowhere, forever in the night.
My heart stood still, I had to alight.
Back again to where it all began,
The doors opened up and I almost ran.

It mattered not that they felt fine
to stay on the train at the end of the line.
I stepped out with a heart so free.
Most of the others that I could see,
Content to ride in the endless night.

The crowd seemed to feel that it was right.
I followed the few who left the train
and felt that all was well again.
We moved along in single file.
I looked and wondered all the while.

The big recycler stood alone.
I walked in and was instantly gone.
I watched and saw, overlooking the train
that it simply all began again.
The choice was mine to leave the train.

I need not ride again and again.
All I needed was to know
and the desire that I should go,
to leave the train and travel on,
to see their fate and find my own.

Monday, December 11, 2006

More On Rivers

Rivers have always played a central part in my life. Even as a small child, when I was unhappy, I always sought out a riverbank, where I could sit and watch the flow carry my troubles away. The first poem I remember memorizing was "Why hurry little river? Why hurry to the sea?" Sadly, that is just about all I remember of it, but the feel of the flow has stayed with me a lifetime. We even purchased our home because we have a little river running along one side of the property. In the early mornings, in spring a mist hovers over the river and I can almost hear the Sidhe riding by just the other side of that wall. Pure magic to me.

The River

The river runs slowly
On it’s journey to the sea.
And the river remembers
About you and me.
I told it my secrets,
The good and the bad.
The river remembers
The glad and the sad.
When life is all over
The tale has been told,
The river remembers
The brave and the bold,
I told the river
My hopes and my dreams
And the river remembers
What I wanted to be.
When my life’s work is over
And memories fade,
You can still hear about me
In the riverside glade.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Revisiting the River That Is My Life

When I was young, a rill only just begun,
I feared the end of my flow, tumble and run.
In my joining with that inevitable shore,
I expected fear, trepidation, regrets galore.
As I flowed wide from shore to shore
The echo and thunder of that great sea
Would strike terror in the heart of me.
Instead I find, near my journeys end
That great ocean has become my friend.
I hear the voices of loves long gone.
I feel the comfort of going home.
No need to hurry, no need to rush,
No need to dally, well not that much.
The regrets of leaving new loves behind
Are eased in knowing again I’ll find
Each and every one held in my soul
Will join me again in another role.

Rivers

Sometimes I feel like a river, traveling to join again with the sea, but along the way there is so much. I pass through a desert, and I want to share so that the desert may grow green and bloom, but I can affect only a little of it and only for a little while.

I pass over the rocky cliffs of the problems of those I love. I feel their pain, but I can’t smooth the way. The pain is not mine, nor does it ultimately matter but, still it hurts, not being able to make their way a little easier with the knowledge that this too will pass.

Sometimes, I become a very shallow river and fear that I may dry up and never make it home. Those times, I need to withdraw within my banks and remember that the floods will come again. This life goes on until it is over, just as the river goes on until it joins another, then on again, growing, learning and searching for it’s ultimate self.

The events along the course of the river all serve to change, refine and purify it. As such, they are only temporary and should be accepted with tranquility.

The problems arise when the river wants to share its destiny with those it meets along the way. There are few traveling in the same direction and rivers seldom travel with other rivers.
There is great peace in accepting your course, trying to nurture those you touch along the way. But there is also great frustration in not being able to share that peace with others. My course may change, I may grow wider, narrower, deeper, or shallower, but always I am still a river traveling to the next stage of development.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This is for you, Margie

These are from yesterday and I hope make your longing for N.S. a little less since it is very wintery.






To The Ladies of the Club

This is dedicated to all of you who shared your stories with me and helped to write "The Ladies Of The Club".

On the news tonight, I watched a tribute to the 27 women who have died from domestic violence since 1990 in New Brunswick alone. With tears in my eyes, I again beg anyone living with domestic violence to listen to those of us who have been there. GET OUT! You cannot change the situation. You did not bring it on yourself. If you have children, they are also at risk. One woman was shot with her 3-month-old child in her arms.

Please listen to us who have escaped and built new lives for our children and ourselves. There is help out there, there are shelters, there are ministers, and there are policemen. The evil you know is much worse than the unknown you may face in escaping.

Below I am reprinting the original story.

Solo

Ladies of the Club

I had not intended to write about abuse, but when I realized how many women I know, including myself, who have been in an abusive marriage and broke free, it felt like a good idea to share what we know. By abuse, I am referring to verbal as well as physical. It is often harder to heal from verbal abuse than it is from physical. Physical wounds will heal; emotional wounds leave sensitive scars for life and sometimes even prevent us from ever forming a healthy relationship with a partner.

Not all men are abusers, in fact only a few are, but there are enough to give all men a black mark. Not all women have been in abusive situations, but there are too many to ignore. Many are still in those relationships for various reasons. There are also instances of men being abused by women, and it is unfortunately much harder to help them because they are even more reluctant to admit to being abused than women are. It had never crossed my mind that there would be instances of women abusing their partners until, a number of years ago I was going home from work. In front of a local tavern there was a rather large woman waling away on her spouse with an umbrella. More recently, a couple that we were acquainted with, had been having a lot of disagreements. It was not until they separated that we became aware that she had been quite abusive. Like most people, this actually came as a shock to me.

Because abuse within families seems to be becoming more prevalent, the harm done to our children must be considered. Some of the increase in violence can be directly attributed to the fact that it is harder and harder to make ends meet. In today’s economy, it is almost imperative that both parents work outside the home in order to provide even the basic necessities of life. The stress that this causes contributes
the sense of helplessness that often erupts into violence against the partner and often against the children as well.

Without the extended family support system that was available in the past, there is often nowhere to turn for understanding and help. Our society is generally judgmental, and anyone who admits that they need financial help to support their families is very reluctant to ask for that help. Even visiting a food bank is a traumatic experience. In the past, the extended family would get together and chip in to help the family in trouble with financial aid, but even more importantly, emotional support, and the children would also visit with grandparents, aunts and uncles, giving the couple a chance to spend quality time without their responsibilities interfering.

In fact this family breakdown can be blamed for some of the increase in spousal abuse that we are seeing. Many of our young women are products of abusive homes, broken homes, or suffered from neglect growing up, leaving us with low self-esteem and a great need for love at almost any cost. As I spoke with other survivors, a picture emerged of a woman who had suffered a childhood bereft of the nurturing necessary to grow into a confident, secure adult. There may have been abuse of the mother and/or the children. There may have been lack of involvement in the child’s life, often because the struggle for daily living left nothing for the family. I noticed a commercial on TV recently that said cooking dinner interfered with spending quality family time. It baffles me how this can be. If the family participates in cooking and sits down to eat together, there is quality time built right in, time to share the events of the day, plan a weekend event, set up homework, discuss problems, whatever needs to be dealt with. This also means that at least once a day, the whole family gathers as a family, reinforcing family bonds that will last a lifetime.

Having already developed low self-esteem and a great aching need for love and acceptance, our young woman is a prime candidate for spousal abuse. It becomes very easy to convince her that the bad treatment is in some way her fault. She also becomes convinced that no other man would want here. She repeatedly suffers in silence, vowing to do better so the abuse will stop. She may consider leaving the situation, but feels that she has no resources and could not possibly make it on her own. This is doubly true if she has children. She feels ashamed for what she has been convinced are her inadequacies as a person. She also believes he is an inherently good man and that if she just works harder to please him, all will be well. She sees herself as having failed in some way.

The abuse escalates with time and she will often show up in the Emergency Department of the local hospital, where she concocts a story about falling down stairs or running into a door. The hospital is powerless to help her because, unless she tells them what happened, their hands are tied. Police are often reluctant to intervene in domestic disputes, partly because they have seen abused women returning time and again to the same abusive relationship. Even if she is lucky enough to find a Women’s Shelter and arrives there after a particularly bad episode, she is almost surely going to go back to him. A few well-chosen words of apology are usually all that it takes to get her to return to the marital home, where it all begins again, only worse this time.

The damage done to any children in the household will last a lifetime. Young girls come to believe that their parent’s relationship is normal, and they will often seek out the same type of man as her father. Boys become inured to the violence and may well grow up to treat their partners in the same way. As mothers in this situation, we are so busy trying to survive that we are totally unaware of the damage being done to our children.

A picture of the abuser also becomes clearer. He is often from an abusive or broken home. He also often has a problem with low self-esteem, and finds the only way he can feel better about himself is to feel and act superior to someone, usually his partner in life. He is often the life of the party; everyone’s best buddy, and a bit of a bully, with a coward’s fear of anyone he sees as stronger than him. He lives a double life, with his friends and acquaintances having no idea what his home life is like. He never learned to actually love anyone, seeing them as possessions instead. The spouse may be a prized possession, but a possession nonetheless. He finds life frustrating and lacks the skills to overcome his lack of self control, or to turn his life around, often believing that his problems are caused by what other people do to him, never his responsibility. He may well also believe he has every right to abuse his wife, and be filled with righteous indignation when faced with anything that questions his rights.

A few years back, there was a petition set up in our local drug store, condemning family abuse. Many men signed it, but there were others who would not even go into the pharmacy as long as the petition was there. Another event that happened around the same time happened in a local family restaurant. The restaurant purchased place mats from the local Women’s Shelter with the name and phone number of the shelter on them. Again some men exhibited that same righteous indignation, ostentatiously turning the pace mats over to expose the blank side. Some even demanded that the place mats be removed before they would even order. Then there were also those who simply refused to enter the restaurant until the offending place mats were removed. I really have no idea as to how to rehabilitate such a man. If he loses his abused spouse, he usually finds another willing victim. In fact some men end up with a succession of partners over their lifetime, never quite understanding why their marriages do not work.

In the past, other men took the stance that what happened inside a man’s castle was none of their business. This is slowly changing, with more and more men condemning abuse of any kind, including animals. The subject is no longer taboo and we are able to reach out to other women who we suspect are being abused, but it is still as hard for an abused woman to believe that she has a right to a better life and that she can achieve it.

I would like to quote from correspondence with the Ladies of the Club, strong survivors all. This article could not have been written without you.

“It has been a long road, I end up just forgiving myself first, and letting go of what tied me to the negativity. It is said to forgive the other person and free yourself – that is hard to do.”

“I try not to put the kids in the middle of things. I’m hoping they see the whole picture eventually, I don’t necessarily want them to hate him or have no relationship with him, but I do want them to realize all the crap he’s done.”

“My bitterness is gone, well most of the time…. but if I don’t rise above it, then I am teaching my kids the wrong lesson…. so I never put them in the middle. Hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

“My oldest saw a lot that she shouldn’t have, that no kid should see. As she got older…she was torn between wanting us to stay together to keep the picture perfect family, and for us to separate while we were both still alive.”

“My girls lived through many years of it with me. I pray they don’t think they can do better in the same circumstances, and make it last forever or more years.” Response “It’s OK. You did not make it OK. You showed that it is unacceptable, and that is what they will remember.”

“My daughter remembers more than any kid should have to even experience, but most of all she remembers that fists and even verbal abuse is not acceptable…it was not acceptable to her mom and it is not acceptable to her.”

“I would look at my little girl and realize I would die if she grew up and accepted being treated like this, like I was, because I did. I was also so scared that my son would grow up and emulate his father…all the pain, all the poverty, all the fears…. all worth it to give my kids a better life.”

“For me, the open wounds healed over, but left very sensitive scars that sometimes still make me react without thinking, and it has been over 30 years. Healing may take a lifetime, but we do heal, and we can have a successful, loving relationship with the right man, who has the patience, empathy and love to tear down our walls and allow us to be whole again.”

“I knew it wasn’t my fault, and I knew I deserved better. My ex came from a severely broken home, with little or no family connections. I thought I could show him what “family” was really like and he’d learn to want to be a better person….. I stayed and stayed, waiting for the time to be right.”

“I was almost relieved when it progressed to physical abuse. Those wounds were visible so I knew I was not crazy….

“I found that I could forgive him much easier when he was a continent away. Ultimately forgiveness is for the benefit of the forgiver, not the forgiven. When we hold such rancor in our hearts, it sours all that we do.”

“If I was writing about abuse, the first and most important thing I’d write is “If you are being physically abused, get out now, don’t wait, no second chances, no thinking twice or waiting for the right opportunity, just get out!’ Too many peoples think they can change someone, or wait for a better time to leave. When you leave in an ambulance, it is not a better time.””

“…. Maybe it will reach someone who believes they are alone, I remember the shock I felt when someone first told me I didn’t deserve to live that way, that I deserved better…I deserved better? I didn’t know!”

Following our sharing of experiences with ex’s, I believe we all dealt with it in the best way that we could, and that is all that any of us can ask from ourselves. I hope by sharing our experiences, we can save some other woman from the same thing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More About My Path

When I began responding to a post in a group by a friend, this all came pouring out so I am posting it here for anyone who is at all interested in how I got to this place in my life.

I believe we each have our own road to travel. We often gravitate to what is most familiar, most compatible to us. Over the years, I believe I have read or studied every major path with the exception of the Book of Mormon, which I read part of then lost the drive to finish it.

In each and every one, I found something that spoke to me, often only a small message and sometimes almost a coming home but none satisfied all of my questions and needs so I ended up being a solitary seeker on the road to enlightenment. I have met so many on paths similar to mine that kept me from being too lonely. Each seeker I meet teaches me something. I hope that I have been able to contribute to their paths as well.

Before I was sixteen, I had read the King James Version of the Bible from cover to cover and re-read much of it. It did not answer my questions and did not provide a good fit. Even sampling a number of the Christian Religions and some of the more obscure Sects did not satisfy my thirst. The closest they came was the Society of Friends and even that was not what I was seeking. Sampling Wiccan beliefs was also intriguing but not for me. In my early twenties, I met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and learned the Transcendentalist form of Meditation. I was off and running. Again it was not the answer I was seeking, but it gave me a tool to use as a light to seek both inwardly and outwardly. I am eternally grateful for that chance encounter. It taught me that so many answers are already inside us, waiting to be rediscovered. I think it was then that I picked up my candle and mirror and began my journey in earnest. The candle to light my feet over the more treacherous passages on the path and the mirror to reflect back the truths that are already inside all of us. We know when we have found a truth because it resonates within us with such a surety that we cannot doubt its veracity. A book called How To Meditate gave me many more meditation techniques, allowing me to reach even farther into my sub-conscious and access long ago memories that I d not even know I had.

It was then that I began research in earnest. A full life with a partner, children and a career did not allow a great deal of time for this but meditation became a first thing in the morning and last thing at night routine. I methodically began reading the holy literature from other cultures and other religions. I came to the Native American Tradition because of a mirror meditation that put me face to face with an ancient Medicine Man, who somehow was also me. A friend from India made me interested in the Hindu faith. A set of books on the world's great religions gave me even more jumping off places. A local branch of Tibetan Buddhism sent me on a search through the Buddhist literature and an ad in a magazine sent me to investigate the Rosicrucian’s.

When I became disabled at the age of 40, I was able to return to the rural life I had always loved with unlimited time to pursue my search for answers, the silver lining behind that particular cloud. Initially, having my career cut short devastated me, but with time I saw the benefits. I am now creeping up on 63 and still pursuing my life long search.

The Native American Red Road, the Jewish Torah, the Wiccan Creed, The Bhagavad-Gita, much of the Buddhist tradition, the Christian Bible, and so much more have all contributed to my path and my exploration of the meaning of life. With the Internet, access to so many more thoughts and thinkers has broadened my search even more.

As a child, I always felt out of place. I also had memories I could not explain and a name that somehow belonged to me. Zareba was that name and it was not until I was in my thirties that I discovered it's meaning. Looking in a very large dictionary, I idly flipped to the back of the book and the word zahriba jumped out at me. It referred to the thorn bush fences built around the nomads’ encampments to keep them and their livestock safe from predators. I have also always tried to provide safe haven to all who find our little time warp, carved out of the hustle and bustle of modern life. When I started teaching, I adopted the name Arachna to teach under. I believe the teachings and not the teacher are important and wanted to try to stay outside the relationship with students to avoid becoming an idol or guru. I also believe that by the time a student understands what the spider means, they have learned all that I can teach. When asked by a friend to try to assist in a group that she felt was in great need of attention, I again did not want to be personally associated with what I was about to do so coined the name Solo Sonder, a loose translation in to French of solitary seeker, which I certainly am.

After arresting in the ambulance on April 6th, and being resuscitated at the hospital, then returning to my life in May, two of my closest sisters of the soul gave me a new name. They told me that I must be as the tortoise and go very slowly so that I may live very long. Now in many ways I have become that tortoise. They gave me tangible reminders for my birthday, one a broach which I pinned on my purse so that when I go out, I remember not to push beyond my endurance, and the other a brass box whose shell opens to hide a treasure inside, which I keep by my computer to remind me that I must get up and move around and that I must rest. There will be time enough for all that I must do before I leave this realm.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Importance of Play

Somewhere along the way we have forgotten the importance of play, laughter and joy. We forgot to see the humorous side of life, the silver linings, the stolen moments, Instead, we see the negative, the clouds, the lost time., the plans gone awry.

Without joy, life becomes a chore, something to be endured instead of something to be reveled in. When was the last time you took a mental health day, gave yourself permission to run away and keep going until the peanut butter sandwiches run out?

When my daughter was young, even though I worked full time, we would take run away days and go for a drive, or to a fast food joint or walk on the beach. Whenever possible, she would meet me for lunch and we would go to a grown-up restaurant. One of my fondest memories is taking a roll of caps for a cap gun and a hammer and sitting on the walkway, exploding them one at a time.

Because she grew up with the idea that it was OK to play to fritter away time, she is still able to do so. It has caused her a couple of embarrassing moments, like playing in the sand pile with her dinky car collection when a car drove up her driveway looking for directions. But even those memories are treasures.

We still pack a picnic, a cooler and go to the end of the driveway and pick a direction. It is surprising how many wonderful places you can find that way. Sometimes we stop at all the yard sales, sometimes the discount stores, sometimes the zoo and sometime a grocery store and a picnic park. It really does not matter. What matters is the playing together.

Our approach to life and the use of time can often mean the difference between a harried, driven workaholic and a well-adjusted, productive individual. Playing exercises the body, mind and spirit. Don’t forget to play and when plans go awry through no fault of your own, remember that it can mean lost time or stolen moments, the choice is yours.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Emotional Pillar

Of the four pillars supporting the platform of our lives, the emotional seems to be the most difficult to bring into balance. As children, we are taught to deny so much of the emotional experience that we grow up believing that strength is being able to suppress any emotion that makes others uncomfortable. Instead of accepting our selves with all our moods and feelings, we learn to suppress anger, fear, sadness, pain ……….and put a brave face on for the world to see.

We deny ourselves the tears that heal our pain in favor of denying that we feel it at all. We deny our natural fears until they become so large that we fear anything new and cannot communicate it. We deny our anger until it becomes turned inward on ourselves, causing real physical damage to our bodies. We deny our pain until it becomes the central force of our lives and we deny our sadness to the point that we can no longer feel joy.

As bad as it is for women, it is even harder for men. From the time they are small boys, they are taught to “suck it up” and take it like a man. With no acceptable outlet for fear and sadness and even anger, many men become so conflicted that they actually become violent, which was more acceptable in our society than tears or sadness. Then when they enter into an adult relationship with a woman, they are unable to express the tender feelings they have almost forgotten to even recognize. They are left with rage and violence as their only acceptable outlet. Not a very satisfactory relationship for either the man or the woman, who is at least partly in touch with her feelings. Isn't it ironic that we as mothers, raise sons to be such conflicted partners!

It is also far too easy to blame others or life in general for our woes. It is a thing I have observed with some “self help” groups. They take things to the point of identifying the probable cause of some emotional problem, then stop there, blaming their current problems on past experiences and absolving themselves of any responsibility for their lives or the events in them. This stops emotional growth in its tracks and robs one of the chance to deal with the fears and the pain and work through it to become a more complete and happier human being.

Many years ago, I learned that the best way for me to deal with a heart break was to find a quiet, private place, preferably near running water and let the tears flow. If I allowed myself to experience the whole spectrum of emotions that come with loss, loss of a loved one, loss of a freedom, loss of health, in short, any traumatic loss, the tears would flow freely, bathing my heart and soul with their healing power.

Afterward, I would be emotionally exhausted, wrung out to the point that there were no more tears to shed. However, I would no longer be caught unaware and have to shove the pain and tears down inside where they would grow and become even more unbearable. I would be able to go on with the daily process of living while healing began. Sometimes healing took a long time and sometimes not so long at all, but without the release of the grief of loss, the healing could not begin. Alternatively, if I forced the pain back inside and hid it even from myself, it would grow and fester and come to the surface in unbearable waves, each one worse than the last and always at the most importune moment.

Recently, I have had occasion to deal with others who are going through terrible times in their lives. They tried to get by with denying any release of the emotions, forcing the pain and tears down deep inside and pretending there is nothing wrong. Any time they have found it unbearable, and tears spilled out, they would work so hard to deny the pain and tears that they became numb inside, unable to feel either pain or pleasure in their lives.

We are taught that crying is a weakness and is to be avoided at all cost. This denies the release and healing that comes with allowing ourselves to work through our feelings and shed the tears that heal. It is all a part of the process of claiming our lives and our selves, being responsible for our own actions and the results of them. It is a way to allow ourselves to heal emotionally and bring the emotional pillar more into line with the other three.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Astral Projection

I believe that many people have out-of-body experiences, particularly when very ill. Most are unable to articulate the experience because they don’t have the words or the concept in their mind.

My first experience happened when I was twenty years old and very ill. During surgery, I suddenly found myself in an upper corner of the operating room watching the surgeons at work on me for the third time in a week. As I watched, I felt I had the choice to either return to my body or continue my existence in whatever the next phase would be. After considering the fact that I had a six month old daughter at home, I realized I had a duty to return and continue my life here on earth.

Instantly I found myself back in my body, in excruciating pain, as they lifted the four corners of the sheet under me and put me back on the stretcher. The surgery was finished and I was moaning in pain. They must have given me medication for pain as the next thing I remembered was being in my hospital room, awake and in much less pain. It took three months, but I walked out of there. Forty-two years later, I am still here, still having interesting experiences and still learning.

A friend, also very ill, had a similar experience last week, which caused me to remember my first experience. Not knowing what was happening to her, she assumed she was dying. It can be a very frightening experience when it happens out of the blue, with no prior knowledge of the phenomenon or even that it was possible.

If we accept that there is more to us than this earthly existence, that there is a soul personality which survives death and continues on, then it is only a short step to accepting that the real, enduring person can separate from this earthly existence for a period of time, either due to dire circumstances or through practice and training.

Enlightenment and The Path

Many people feel that when they find their right and proper path all will smooth out in front of them. They will be rich, famous and loved by all. They expect to be instantly enlightened with no work on their part.

This is not necessarily true. The things of this world, fame and riches have no real bearing on whether we are on our spiritual path. Enlightenment comes in stages as we work for it. We must learn what is required of us. We must balance the pillars of our lives. Only when we have succeeded in balancing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual can we claim to be a truly enlightened being,

This is the work of many lifetimes and few if any of us will achieve perfection in this lifetime. The joy must be in the journey and not only in reaching the objective or we will give up long before reaching even the first plateau.

I have spent a lifetime seeking and have achieved some success in that I am much more in control of myself, much more aware of life in general and much more in tune with my journey than I was in my youth and young adulthood. I have learned to trust the process. If I do my very best to learn and to grow, to always help when asked and try to make this world a tiny bit better for my having been here, the things of this world will look after themselves. That does not mean that life will be easy, only that I spend a lot less time worrying about it and more time learning and growing.

We seldom know why the events in our lives happen, but if we accept that there is an intelligence greater than our own earthly minds at the helm, then we must accept that there is a purpose. Each birth is chosen for the opportunities it will offer for growth, for learning and for practicing what we have learned.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cancer

So many things I never expected to write about..............................

I remember when the word breast was not to be said aloud, let alone breast cancer. By the time everyone knew someone who had it; the words had lost the stigma and could be said out loud, and even in mixed company. Lives are being saved every day because we can talk about it.

Now men are in the same situation we women were. The words prostate and testicle are spoken in whispers only, and to link them with the word cancer is not to be considered. At the time my grandfather passed away from the complications of prostate cancer at the age of 87, I did not even know what a prostate was. Lives are being lost because of it.

A very few years ago, a young friend was shoeing his horse when she kicked him in the groin, damaging one testicle to the point that it had to be removed. As is common practice, it was sent for biopsy. The report came back positive for cancer, the silent type where there is no indication that something is wrong until far too late. The only way it could have been detected was by blood tests, which would have shown elevated hormone levels. All of the cancerous tissue had been removed so he opted for follow up blood tests rather than invasive preventative treatment. He was still clear after five years and has since married and has a young son.

In order to have more success stories, we must do the same for men as we have done for ourselves…..we must desensitize the words so that it is OK to talk about, OK to perform self examinations to spot changes in the early stages, OK to go to the doctor for regular check ups or if they suspect a problem.

As women, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters… we need to help make the subject talked about as freely as breast cancer. We can help save lives that way.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Vegetable Soup

Written many years ago when life was in one of its major lows. We all go through these dark nights and endure until the new dawn, which always comes even when we do not believe it will ever change.


Vegetable Soup

I feel afraid because he is slipping
Into nowhere and maybe he can’t stop.

I see both his beauty and his need, and
I feel helpless because I can’t help him
To hang on and find his way back.

I feel protective because the world is a cold,
cruel place that does not recognize his worth.

I feel exultant when he has a good day.
I feel hopeful that tomorrow will be better.

I feel anger at the world for hurting him,
And at him for letting it.

I can’t understand where he is and why
He can’t just come back by himself.

I feel inadequate in the face of the demands
put on me by my love for him.

I feel responsible in some way,
But I don’t know what I should be doing,
Or what I may have done.

I feel his pain and my frustration because
I can’t give him my strength.

I feel despair that “Someday” may
Never come and today is so long.

I feel empty because I gave all I have
And it isn’t enough.

I feel impatient because sometimes I forget
That he can’t help what is happening
And I want my needs met too.

I feel guilty because I feel angry, impatient,
Frustrated, inadequate and
I know that is not the answer.

But most of all, and through it all,
I feel love and acceptance for him
Because he IS, and that is
all that really matters.

The Depressions

I have had quite a bit of experience with depression, having had a mother, brother, daughter......in short, four very dear ones close to me, who all at one time or another suffered from deep, deep depression. It is hell. It is hell to watch helplessly while a loved one goes through it. It is hell for the person experiencing it. It is hell for all who are affected by it. It is not a place one goes by choice, it is not a place that one can climb out of by one's self. It can not be cured by bludgeoning, or by appealing to reason, or lecturing, or abandonment, or wishing.

Some depressions are caused by situations and mitigate themselves with time and with love and support. Those experiencing this type are the lucky ones, and I have been down that road a time or two. My first personal encounter with the dark days was at the age of 25 when I lost a 5 year old daughter to encephalitis. Even with another child at home, it took me a year to find a reason to want to get out of bed in the mornings. Obviously I did it, I got up. I went through the motions of living each day and got through it somehow, until finally the pain was lessened enough that I could take pleasure in life's daily events.

The second time, I was just 40 and was struck down with a hereditary neuromuscular disease. I went through about 3 months of getting weaker and weaker and being able to work shorter and shorter days, until finally I was in hospital for 6 weeks. I was never able to return to my flourishing career. My professional life and the income it brought in was OVER at 40. Again, it took me a year to adjust. Each night I would write in my journal the things I had done that day and what I needed to accomplish the next. Not only was my professional life over, but I knew that an uncle had died from the disease 5 years after it showing up, and my mother in less than 10 years. I was a ticking time bomb. With my husband's help, we changed our life style, moved to the country and decided that we would fight it with every fiber of our beings. That was in 1984! We made a conscious effort to make the best of whatever time was left for us to be together and we have done so. I have no regrets on that score.

The third episode is just now easing up. As you all know, on April 6th of this year I died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. They were successful in resuscitating me but nicked a lung in the process which left me with tubes coming out of every orifice of my body, plus one extra under my arm that led into the lung they had collapsed by accident. For one week they kept me comatose with a drug that made life in my head worse than any hell one can conjure up. I was crawling over burning hot, broken sharp, stones in the blazing sun with no way out, and only the occasional hallucination of a room somewhere with kind people in it, but I could not find that room except for a couple of times by accident. After a week of this, my husband demanded that the doctors wake me up so that he and my daughter could communicate with me for a short time. Under duress, they did! That saved my life because they were both able to tell me that if I needed to go, it would be alright, but that if I wanted to fight, I could win. Seeing their faces, I chose to fight. The dose of the medication that kept me comatose was reduced immediately and within 2 days, was replaced with morphine which did not have the same effect on me. After another week, there was real concern that the respirator tube would cause permanent damage and/or infection and they wanted to do a trach to replace it. I was reluctant, but they convinced me and it did hasten my healing immensely. The doctors and nurses expected me to be in intensive care for months at least, if I recovered at all. When I told them I would be going home on a day pass, the third weekend and home permanently on the fourth, they laughed but humored me. I went home on pass the third weekend and home for good on the fourth. Since then, I found that the trach would be permanent, to be changed every 4 to 6 weeks in hospital, I have been in and out of emergency every few weeks and had to go back on prednisone and antibiotics frequently. Every cold and every germ that passes by stops in for a visit. I have had to have more scopes, tests and whatever than you can shake a stick at. The emergency department is always interesting as I have one of the only two trachs walking around outside the hospital in this area. I am a rarity here. It has been 6 months and I can not regain any of the strength I lost that month and there are days that I am not sure I made the right decisions. But with the help of my loving family, by birth, marriage and choice, I am learning to live and enjoy what I have been left with. That is what I know personally about depression.

Now let's visit the other kind of depression caused by chemical imbalances and exacerbated by life's events. What I know about it is all from the outside looking in, right from the time I was a child. My mother was given to depression all her life, and in my very early teens, I repeatedly had to go to the neighbour's house and phone the family doctor to come and get her through the newest attempt at suicide. He finally told me that I must leave home at the earliest opportunity and pursue my own life or I would never get away. Over the next number of years, she was in and out of hospital, on and off various drugs and had a number of series of shock treatments. I really never understood it and resented her very much.

It was only after I had also dealt with others in my life who suffered a chemically induced depression that I began to understand and to empathize. My daughter inherited the same chemical imbalance and has also battled her whole life with both depression and ADHD. She does well with the new generation of antidepressants, therapy and the love and support that we all try to give her. There are bad times, sometimes brought on by life's events and sometimes by the medications no longer working. It is a life sentence, but she is making the best of it and finding her happiness where she can.

My husband, whom I love with all of my being also suffers from chronic depression and during the diagnostic phase, life was hell for both of us. He would go to sleep in the middle of conversations, could not motivate himself to do anything, became capable of causing himself harm and ended up in hospital for both diagnosis and treatment. From that point, life began to improve but when it got bad again, he self-medicated as they say. He could not leave a gathering if there was a drop of alcohol around. No matter how hard he tried to escape, the alcohol simply made it worse. We even separated for a year because I could not cope with the whole situation. He quit drinking and we got back together. The whole vicious circle started up again and one night it was finally all I could stand and told him that he had better like wherever he got drunk because he would not be coming home again. That was his last drink and he has been sober now for over 15 years now. We have both learned. He takes antidepressants and increases them when necessary, backing down the dose again when the crisis is over. If I notice he is falling into apathy, I mention it, he denies it, thinks about it and then increases his meds again. One of the good things is that the new generation of antidepressants does not stifle the personality or flat line the emotions, it simply allows the person to cope with life and enjoy the things that others enjoy. I would not be alive without him and I have learned so very much from this wonderful man with one little flaw that could have destroyed his life and mine.

I could go on, but the other stories do not vary enough to add anything material here.

So Long

I can not believe it has been over 6 weeks since I have been here. My apologies. I did not mean to stay away. RL got in the way and learning to adjust to this new way of being in my skin. The later stages of COPD are taking their toll, both physically and emotionally, however that is not what I wish to write about, at least not directly.

I have a dear friend who has suffered from mild chronic depression for a lifetime. When the rug got pulled out from under him a couple years ago, he slid into a full blown major depression and those whom he had helped and supported in the past refused to understand what he was going through. Through misguided love for him, they proceeded to browbeat him and give him all sorts of well meaning advice, meant to get him to pull up his sox and get on with it. I have also been guilty of that self same thing in the past before having to learn more than I ever wanted to know about depression.

I want to write about what I know about this cruel disabling disease and share what I have learned about dealing with it. The next two posts will be about that same thing from my own point of view.

There is a dissertation on healing tears waiting in the wings to be written, and my beloved husband has ordered a new state of the art note book computer for me to write either a revision of my first book or a new one on. I am so loved and cared about by my family and friends by birth, marriage and choice, both in RL and here in cyberspace that I thank the Creator every day for my life (even when I am not sure I want it).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Idols

This one I wrote a number of yeas ago after someone tried to make me responsible
for their spiritual development, rather like a minister or priest. It was very difficult
to convince that person that I don't have the answers for them. I only have my own,
and not all of them by far.

Each person must find their own answers and follow their own path. It is very dangerous
to give one's fate into the hands of another. The person looking for a guru stops searching
for their own path and growth stops. The person who accepts the role of guru bears the responsibility for their effect on the other, and will incur karmic debt, either positive or negative.

A phrase that stuck with me is "the God of my heart", and I believe that no one should
stand between you and the God of your heart. There are many, many paths up the
mountain, all lead to the same place, the top and enlightenment. I can not choose another's path. I wish only to carry my candle and mirror, the candle to light the path at my feet to avoid stumbling, and the mirror to reflect another's truth, which is already inside them. They need only to rediscover it.

Idols

Once I found a guide
And made of him an idol.
I took his light
And used it as my own.
I followed his path
And forgot about my own.
In a patch of sunlight
I began to see his faults
And condemned him for his flaws
That I had refused to see.
I forgot that he had offered
Only to lend a light
To see me on my way,
And the idol I believed him
Was only in my mind.

Monsters

One small door, I could not open,
For monsters lingered there.
The others all were easier
For I knew what they must be.
In keeping shut that little door
I fought the tides of life.
But, one morning bright and early
I allowed myself to travel through.
Behind the door that scared me so
The monsters were so small
And feared the light to such degree
That passing glimpses only, did I see.
Beyond the door lay light
And warmth enough to spur me on
To open each new door I find
And let the light grow brighter still.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Another Dimension

Another Dimension
Untouched but not unaware,
I walk through the throngs of shoppers.
Unreal but not unanimated,
They move through the halls and shops.
There but not there,
I seemed the only reality in a cartoon land.
Alone but not truly apart
I strolled through the world of every day.

Suspended Animation

The way it was is perhaps the way it will be.
The way it is, is different, altogether
From anything ever experienced before.
Caught up in suspended animation,
Afraid to breathe, lest I be disturbed,
Desiring to know the future,
Desiring not to know the future,
Caught between yesterday and tomorrow
Wishing to remain here always,

Oblivious to both

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Adrift

Adrift on the sea of life,
In a raft as fragile as a leaf,
The calm in the eye of the storm
Was made for weary travelers,
A place to gather strength
Before braving the forces once again.
How long may I drift here
Before a vagrant wave
Picks up my fragile craft
And hurls me once more
Into the teeth of experience.

Diamonds

I float in the darkness of your night,
A multi-faceted diamond,
Ready to reflect your light.
You came equipped with
Only one small flashlight.

I catch your beam
With one face only
And reflect it bright.
Oh, how much you missed
In that narrow band of light.
You could have seen me clearly,

Even by candlelight.

Diamonds

I float in the darkness of your night,
A multi-faceted diamond,
Ready to reflect your light.
You came equipped with
Only one small flashlight.

I catch your beam
With one face only
And reflect it bright.
Oh, how much you missed
In that narrow band of light.
You could have seen me clearly,

Even by candlelight.

I See

I
See
The
Image
Of
Myself
Reflected
In
His
Eyes.

What
Does
He
See
When
He
Looks
At
Me?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mirrors

Honesty is such a rare commodity that meeting it strikes fear into the
hearts of many. When one both gives and demands honesty in a
relationship, you act as mirrors to each other. Initially, the act of
seeing oneself in another’s eyes will cause them to retreat in shock
and startlement, but they will be drawn to look again and again.

If they like what they see they will look at every opportunity.
If not, they will avoid you until they are drawn for another peek,
just to see if anything has changed.

Being a mirror carries responsibility. You must do your best
to reflect clearly and without distortion. You are trusted
to reflect honestly and actions taken because of a faulty reflection
create debts that you must pay.

A still pool reflects most accurately. It also draws many to
look and learn.

Gaea

Gaea, Earth Mother, Goddess, State of Harmony.
You wear as many guises
As there are eyes to see you.

As a child, I see you as a child,
Sun on your hair, bird on your finger,
Laughter in my ears, joy radiating from you
Like the sun on a rainbow.

As a woman, I see you as a woman,
A gentle smile on your lips
The young at your feet, bandaging a hurt.

In my sadness, I see you as
Comfort personified,
Rocking me in your arms, your breath
The breeze rustling in the trees.

In my anger, I see you as
A storm upon the ocean,
Venting your energy where no one is hurt.

In my pain, I see you as mother,
Rocking me on your knee,
Soothing me with gentle sighs
And soft caresses.

In my joy, I see you as a smile
Dressed in wild flowers
Dancing in a forest glade.

In my fear, I see you as a giant oak,
Your leafy arms around me,
Your crown bent to protect
This child of yours.

But always, I see you
Watching over all that is.

Sunbeam


Reading a friend's blog reminded me of this, written on the deck one lazy summer day, watching the grass grow.

A sunbeam caught in a spider’s web
Struggling to be free,
Dashing back and forth along each strand,
The sunbeam and me.
One last shimmering dash
And the sunbeam is free.
Could I but ride the sunbeam ……

I’ll learn. … …

Innocence

Two items written at different times in the past. I still believe in preserving one's innocence as long as possible. It truly is protection from a world gone mad with the need to shock. Funny how the subconscious continues to mull over a thought until it emerges full blown. I had not realized I was still pondering the role of innocence in our lives until Ode To Lost Innocence flowed from my pen one day.

Unprotected

Innocence, in layers,
protects our very soul
from a world of ugliness
each day ‘till we grow old.

The years of living peel the layers away,
but if we guard it well,

some protection yet may stay.
Today’s child tears recklessly
at the innocence he wears,
not knowing his coming nakedness
against worldly cares.
Could he but know tomorrow’s need
for what he so lightly throws away.
If I had it all to do again,
my innocence, I’d keep intact as best I could,
against a day of need.
A cloak not missed until it’s lost.
I wish I could have guessed what cost.
What cost my carelessness,
in blindly tearing from my soul,
those layers of innocence.
In the prime of life, I’m old,
made old by my own fault,
worn down so soon without my cloak
as shelter from the storm.



Ode To Lost Innocence

A soul stands naked in the cold,
Innocence in tatters at his feet.
In times gone by, he was so bold,
Not knowing his future need.
Innocence stripped from his very soul,

The layers peeled without any heed.
Fleeting joys, memories grown old
Provide no warmth in his hour of need.
His youthful senses were dulled

“By my innocence” he said.
To feel the pleasures of the world
Was why he did what he did.
But now, in nakedness and dread,

He awaits the cold reality.
Innocence, once lost and dead
Can never again protection be.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

To cover or Not To Cover

Another subject that I had not planned on writing about.........................my trach (tracheotomy, trach tube, stoma) all words that 4 months ago were not part of my vocabulary in any way, but are now daily words.

If you are not curious about the subject, please feel free to skip this post completely.

Initially, whenever I went out, I covered it with a scarf so that others would not have to feel embarrassed by staring or trying not to stare but being compelled to look and look again. At home, I did not cover. In general, I have found children to have no problem with it. They ask what happened to my neck, I explain that it is called a trach, and that it helps me breathe, particularly at night. They say Oh, think for a moment then want to go play with Paco. Don't you love the honesty and simplicity of children. If only we could preserve that pure innocence into adulthood, I believe we would not need to spend a lifetime seeking answers. Adults, on the other hand do not deal well with anything that is outside their scope of experience.

After the last trach change a week ago Friday, I decided not to continue to cover it for the benefit of strangers, particularly since it is so hot and humid this season. The scarf was just one more thing to be uncomfortable. My daughter and I had recently taken two of the soft ties that are over half an inch wide and painted vines and flowers on them. I had planned on wearing them when visiting with my grand-daughters by choice. Instead, I took one with me when I went for the exchange. The respiratory techs thought it was a great idea and they used one of the painted ties instead of the plain narrow cotton ribbon, normally used. I put the scarf back in my purse and walked out to meet the world, neck exposed for all to see.


It did not take long to see the results. While I was standing outside a store, a woman nearly ran over another woman with her car, she was so busy "not" looking at my neck that she forgot to look where she was going. All the rest of the time in town, people were staring and trying to pretend they weren't. I would have been happy to answer any questions that anyone had. No one asked. This is small town and most have never seen a trach tube before.

To be fair, many who know me in person and many who only know me on the internet have asked questions and I have been more than happy to answer. Still others, I am sure, have questions that they are afraid to ask in case it hurts my feelings or embarrasses me. So here goes my very own version of FAQ.

The appliance consists of a right angle tube with a base plate near the end that sticks out of my neck, an inner tube that follows the same curve as the outer tube, a "cork" which looks a bit like a bottle cap and fits over the end of the tubes, and two slots in the base plate to feed the ends of a tie through. The tie goes around the neck and prevents the tube from coming out accidentally, as well as prevents me from removing it in my sleep.

The hole in my neck is called a stoma and if the tube were removed, would probably heal over within a very few days. In my case, the trach is permanent as I suffer from sleep apnea caused by nerve damage to my throat and the trach prevents me from stopping breathing in the night. It is nice to wake up in the morning feeling rested and with some color in my face. The sleep apnea was not the reason for the trach in the first place, but is a very good side effect of having it.

Yes, I can talk. There are holes in the bend of the tubes which allow air to flow over my vocal cords and I can speak normally with the cork on the outside of the tube. If the cork is not there, I can make very good obscene phone calls as I run out of air rather quickly, but can still talk.

The modern trach tubes are plastic and are replaced every 4 to 6 weeks. It has taken a few tries to find the most effective and most comfortable brand and style, but I think we have been successful. The regular replacement reduces the chances of infection and allows the doctors to catch any problems in their infancy.

Maintenance is simple and is done twice a day. It consists of cleaning the area and replacing the ties if necessary.

It takes a bit of getting used to as it can be uncomfortable but is not actually painful. The trach does not bother me a bit but I am not really thrilled with having a hole in my neck. Strange what will bother one and not another. It is hard getting used to sleeping with it as I tend to block it in my sleep, then wake up with a start. That is getting better now, but I still have to contend with the cool mist humidifier and the electrostatic air cleaner running all the time and if it is really hot, a fan too. Those nights, I sleep in the morning when things have cooled down some.

The only other thing is to remember to go to the Emergency dept. of the local hospital before I am in serious difficulty breathing. So far so good.

If there are any other questions, please ask as I do not mind answering at all.

Fair Game

When we try to be the best person we can be, there will always be those who think us naive and gullible, "fair Game" and try to find ways to take advantage of us. This does NOT mean that we are wrong and should mend our ways. It simply means we have chosen to follow a different path, one that is right for us. It is not an easy path, but it is one that we can walk with confidence and dignity. It means always trying to do the right thing, going the extra mile, being honest and honorable, to forgive even when we can not forget. It means being able to meet the eyes of the person in the mirror every day, knowing we have done our best.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

On Anger

Sorry I haven't been here for a while. It is very hard to remember to slow down and not extend myself so much. The price of forgetting is getting higher. This time, I am fighting a bit of an infection that has sapped my strength a bit. On the mend again so I hope to be back soon.

It seems that anger, abuse and the passing of parents that we never quite got to know and reconcile with, are the flavour of the month. I have been thinking about all of this quite a bit lately, and would be interested in any input you may have.

On Anger

There has been much discussion of anger around me lately, and it's effects on both us and those we love, sometimes even tainting the love we feel for someone special.The particular comment that started me writing this was "Even anger must flow freely else it becomes dammed up and spills out inappropriately elsewhere." I agree fully with this, however I probably differ in the method used to direct the flow.

I was born a Leo, with the claws and fangs to prove it. In my teens, my anger was totally uncontrolled. I felt justified every time I took out my claws, sharpened then used them, with no regard for who it might damage. That was not healthy for me or the recipient of my rages, nor does it help to make and maintain good relationships.

One of the first things I had to learn as a young adult was how to tame the beast, and that is exactly what has to be done "tame the beast". You can not put it in the closet and hope it will go away. Things left in the closet tend to grow, it is pretty fertile in there, you know. You can not deny it's existence, it will reach out and bite you as soon as your back is turned. You can not break it like you might break a wild horse. (Wrong way to treat the horse too). You can not just wish it away, and you can not simply let it continue to let it rule your life, particularly if you have a relatively new partnership and a couple of sprouts, as prip calls them. Unfettered anger is hard on relationships and teaches children the wrong lessons.

For me, the saving grace was discovering meditation and the roads to discovery that it took me down. As soon as I started to dabble in it, my innate curiosity took control and I began to investigate the Eastern religions with a vengeance. I did not find the answers I was seeking but I did find the key to anger, at least for me. I became an "Anger Whisperer". I learned to go into the storm and seek the causes. Carved into the rock lintel of the Oracle at Delphi are the words "Know Thyself", which was my first clue. My readings from the book The Compassionate Buddha provided more clues. Many other books and investigations added more pieces to the puzzle, until I was ready to look beyond the obvious. The tools, I had to find myself. After taking the problems that anger causes into meditation, I began to look behind the face of anger to see what was hiding there, what the triggers were that let it loose.

That is when I really started to grow. I saw that each time I let anger out of it's cell, it immediately sprang to my defence, sheltering me from so many emotions that I did not want to own, let alone deal with. If I was afraid, anger would spring up and hide the fear, if I was embarrassed, anger would cover that emotion too, if I felt inadequate, anger was there to hide it from me. What a big task I had set myself..................I had to look at the bare, unpretty sides of myself that I did not want to have anything to do with, but if I was to tame anger, I had to go there.

I looked at my fear each time anger sprang up to hide it from me. As soon as I chose to examine the fear, anger subsided and slunk back into it's den. One piece of the puzzle solved. If I accepted that I had so many fears, anger left me alone to examine them. There was fear of pain, fear of failure, fear of discovery of my unworthiness, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of ridicule, fear of embarrassment, so very many fears that I had no idea I had. What a mess I discovered myself to be, but as they say, acknowledgement of a problem is more than half of the solution thereof. With a wee bit of faith, I began tackling the fears. Each one that I confronted and became familiar with faded into the background, or at least came to me without having anger clear the way.

The day finally came when I was able to look at a situation and say to the person causing me the pain "That really hurt me" while the tears streamed down my face, naked vulnerability where anger used to be. The biggest surprise was that the person causing my pain did not flare up with an anger even bigger than my own had been. They stopped in their tracks, amazement written all over their face as they looked at the whole situation in a totally new light. Both they and I had broken down a barrier to real communication. I am not saying that will happen each and every time one looks behind the mask of fear, because it will not. But it happens often enough that anger now plays a very small part in my life and I am really in tune with who and what I am. Those around me react in different ways, some run for the hills as fast as their little legs can carry them, screaming all the way, some pull up a chair and settle in to having a deep, rich, meaningful relationship, and others do a combination of both, while still others feel the magnetic charge before approaching and are repelled instantly. That's OK because I know that I am being true to myself and I can look into the eyes of the person in the mirror without flinching.
This growth, this owning of all of myself did not happen over night, it is the culmination of over 40 years of soul searching and making every attempt to become the best ME that I can be. Much of my poetry and observations comes from studying and examining both the human condition in general, and my own flaws and growth in particular.


As I near the end of my days, I can look back on my life with few regrets, knowing I have done the best I could with the knowledge and tools that I had, and I am not done growing yet. I am just beginning to understand what I see in the mist beyond the veil, and groping for the words to express what I see.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Life's Work

and this is the last one for today.............

Life’s Work

The soul within us all is perfect in it’s
expression. It is only the flaws in the vessel
that contains it, which cause the imperfect
reflection. It is the duty of each of us to mend
the flaws in order to allow the beauty of
perfection to shine through. This is the life’s
work of many life times. We must show each
other by example that progress can be made.

Peace Profound

My life of pain is written
In the tears upon my face.
My capacity for joy is written
In the depth behind my eyes.

Understanding is reflected
In the timbre of my voice.
Peace Profound is waiting
In a chamber in my heart.

The events of each day
Form the path I must take
To reach the chamber
Holding ultimate bliss,

And gladly I walk
Through the refining fire,
To reach such an ultimate goal.

A Train Ride

This one is based on a dream I had many years ago, that is still vivid in my memory.

A Train Ride

I stood at the door, staring out at the night,
alone in the crowd, on the train that night.
The stops went by, the doors closed tight.
My panic rose and I had to fight
the fear that rose in my heart that night.
I felt something wrong, they thought it right
to travel to nowhere, forever in the night.
My heart stood still, I had to alight.
Back again to where it all began,
The doors opened up and I almost ran.
It mattered not that they felt fine
to stay on the train at the end of the line.
I stepped out with a heart so free.
Most of the others that I could see,
Content to ride in the endless night.
The crowd seemed to feel that it was right.
I followed the few who left the train
and felt that all was well again.
We moved along in single file.
I looked and wondered all the while
the big recycler stood alone.
I walked in and was instantly gone.
I watched and saw, overlooking the train
that it simply all began again.
The choice was mine to leave the train.
I need not ride again and again.
All I needed was to know
and the desire that I should go,
to leave the train and travel on,
to see their fate and find my own.

Flowers

More jottings from memory lane.

This one I wrote during a particularly difficult period when I was feeling like I would rather be someone else who did not have so many troubles.

Flowers

I’ve traveled down so many roads
Searching for the truth,
And each new thing that I have found
Has piqued my need to know.

Sometimes I think the flowers
Are the luckiest of all.
Their simple lives are safely lived
Within the garden wall.

They do not ask, they do not care,
They do not need to know.
But then I stop and think about
The walls that fence them in.

Their garden life, I could not live.
I think I am a weed. Crabgrass, perhaps.
I love to spread my roots out in the soil.
I seek out every fertile spot
To see if I’ll grow there.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Old Thoughts, New Life

Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts with me. It is wonderful to have so much input that stirs my brain to think. Crossword puzzles are not sufficient exercise for the mind when recovering from drug over doses.
Some things that have happened recently have sent me back to my old journals and much of what I wrote years ago still holds true today. I will post some of the items here.



The Threshold

She stood on the threshold
of greater knowledge
But could not open the door.
Her fear that growth would set her apart
Outweighed her need to know.
Hesitantly, she took a step backward
To find only madness there.
Back again on the threshold she stood,
Uncertainty keeping her there.
Standing there, her need to know
Grows greater with each passing day.
Until, on some tomorrow morning
She will open the door and find a way.



Unknown

The unknown lurks around each bend.
We choose to face it with fear or expectation.
Fear makes of it a monster,
Expectation, an adventure.
Some lives are lived in constant fear
Of monsters in the dark.
My life is lived in constant hope
Of adventure in the dawn.



Looking Within

If you could look within yourself
You would find the answer
To every question you have ever asked
And more, much more.
If you could be so quiet
You could hear your toenails grow,
The knowledge of the universe
Is there for you to know.
Your inner self is but a part
Of all that is and was
And ever will be.
You are IT, could you but see.
Turn you eyes and ears inward,
Look within your soul, listen to your heart,
Recognize your rightful place
In a Universe of love.



The Caretaker

The body is the temple of the soul, the ego is the caretaker of the temple. The ego, poorly trained for the job, believes he is the owner of the property, and in the absence of the true owner, uses and abuses his trust. But he can not really be held accountable because of his immaturity and incomplete training for the job.
Like a child, he must be corrected gently, but firmly, and properly taught his duties. Sometimes, like a hyperactive and wayward child, he is unwilling to accept authority, and relinquish his faulty conception of his role.
Anger and self-pity are the tools he uses to block out his master’s voice and avoid hearing the truth. Like a child, his fear of the unknown can slow his progress.
I can’t help but feel that children who are born angry are at this particular stage of soul development. The ego’s false sense of importance is the cause of much human woe. Lose it and one becomes invulnerable.



Truth

The truth is within us all. We need only to recognize it. When we hear the words of truth that we have not yet remembered, it resonates within and awakens that truth in us. With truth comes a positive feeling; We simply know it is a truth. To progress on the path, we need to listen, read and research other people’s truths in order to find our own.
Our physical minds are sophisticated computers. As such, we need to expose ourselves to a wide variety of input. If the words are not in our computer, we are not able to recognize or articulate our truths when they do manifest.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Strong Feelings

As you can tell from the four previous items, this is an area that I feel strongly about and have visited in my mind many, many times. These thoughts are probably not in their final form even now, but I am interested in any comments you, the readers, choose to make.

A leap of Faith

Each time we reach a new plateau of knowledge and understanding, we must get there by leaping into the unknown. This leap can be downright terrifying, but if we shy away from the precipice, the doorway we can not see beyond, the result is often stagnation and at times, even madness, as we deny the very growth we work so hard to achieve. Once committed to the path, we have only the choice to proceed or to dally, with the attendant consequences. We must face this challenge over and over again as we approach each new leap forward in understanding, acceptance, growth.

We approach a doorway into more light, but are afraid to walk through. We stand there, hesitating, afraid to go in, afraid to go back, afraid....Another way to picture it is standing on the precipice, working up the nerve to jump, trusting that all will be well and will be as it is meant to be. I believe that each crisis we reach and pass, makes us stronger, more willing to take that leap of faith.

Courage is not the absence of fear; it is acting in spite of it. Walking the path takes true courage. I have found that the only real enemy is fear itself. If we can act in the face of fear, we can walk our path with confidence.

Enlightenment and Stumbling Blocks

I have met so many who believe that fireworks should go off, bells should ring and we should become changed beyond recognition in the blink of an eye. If that is what enlightenment means to you, you might as well give up now. The likelihood of that happening is akin to waking up tomorrow on another planet. It just ain’t gonna happen.

I am not exactly sure where these expectations come from, other than many who find the way are lost again at the first indication of extraordinary powers. They put forth the idea that these powers are granted as part of the path, rather than the true fact that we are simply aware of more of what we already are. These so called powers reside in all of us., even in those who have no idea how to access them.

All great teachers have warned that these seeming powers are a trap that can lead us from the path. They should be noted then let go, just as the ego's thoughts are noted then let go while in meditation.

The possibility of the ego seizing on these abilities as it's own and using them to further it’s goals is a real and present danger. The only acceptable use of these newfound powers is when we are sure that we have been called upon to perform some act that benefits another. They should never be used for personal gain of either power or financial benefit. Such use will take us from the path and build up massive karmic debt. When we interfere in another's life, we must accept responsibility for the good or the bad we do. Such interference should be done only after a great deal of thought and examination of one’s motives.

Astrological Addiction


I have always had a very negative attitude toward astrologers and fortunetellers. The gifts we receive, the talents we are given on the path, are given to us for the purpose of truly helping others, not for personal gain and not for parlor games or for self aggrandizement. Should someone have those talents and mis-use them, I believe they are lost to that individual, who then has to rely on a good knowledge of human nature and the ability to read the face, posture and voice of those they read for.

Are "psychics" picking up on something? Yes, at least the good ones see "shadows of what might be." Is it set in stone? No. Unfortunately, it is so often a trap for the Ego and the “psychic” loses any ability they had to perhaps help people to guide their lives on their individual road maps. If one is given the power to do good and uses it for their own benefit, they will incur karmic debt that will be painful. It is not a punishment per se; it is simply the law of cause and effect in practice. If a child puts his hand on the stove and is burned, it is not punishment for doing what he was told not to, it is simply the result of touching something hot. All our lives we are being taught this particular lesson. It is a good idea to think through an action that affects others before proceeding.

Because we have free will within the road map we are born with, it is not possible to predict events with any kind of certainty, only to glimpse the possible consequences of following the road the client is currently on. The great danger with Astrology is of self-fulfilling prophecies. Predictions that come true because of the client's belief in the fortuneteller, store up karma for the fortuneteller to work off in future life times. That is a responsibility I would not care to carry, or a debt that I do not care to incur.

I have had far too many experiences to dismiss it as nothing, but I do refuse to either read or be read for. I find that my connection to the All provides me with guidance and answers when I listen. I try very hard to simply carry a lamp to light the path and a mirror to reflect each person's own truths.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Fate and Free Will

The issue of Fate and Free Will has come up again. So many people go to psychics to have their future told to them, then because they believe what they are told, go out and proceed to make it happen as foretold. If what they are told is good, no harm is done, but if they are told that something bad will happen, and they make it happen, I believe the "psychic" bears responsibility and has incurred a karmic debt . I also believe that we need to take responsibility for our own lives and make our own choices. It is the only way we are going to grow and mature as spiritually awakened beings.

I am reposting a small article I wrote a while ago about fate and free will under the heading "The Path"

We come into this life with a path set before birth. This path is chosen for what we need to learn, what we need to do in this lifetime. This does not mean that The Fates rule our lives. It simply means that we are born with a road map, preserving free choice within that map.

Our choices before each birth determine our geographical location, family into which we will be born and the time of our entry to the world. We could not be born to Native American parents in Canada and through choice, become African-Americans in Egypt, however we can make choices during our lifetime that would take us from Canada to Egypt. We would still be Native-American Canadians, born of Native American Canadian parents.

Our early lives are governed by our pre-birth choices, but as we get older and start to make conscious choices, our road map is laid out in front of us. Each choice we make can change the course of our lives on that map.
....................Free Will

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Between

Written to a very special person while still in the ICU

Somewhere between here and there, now and then,
this life and the next, where nothing is real,
everything is real, all is possible and all is now,
in that impossible glowing mist of all and nothing,
we met and made an agreement.

I do not know if you can remember consciously,
but I know that you know.
I promised to do this one last time and
you promised to not ask it of me again.
You are right, dearest Sister of the Soul,
we are not finished this time around,
but I do not know what more there is.
As we have danced this dance before,
and will do so again and again.
Something new this time was to find
the beautiful, ephemeral spirit that is
our other Sister of the Soul,
twined there with us.

I know I owe a duty to try to finish
helping those I promised "to shine my light
in hope of finding the beginning of their path",
I also have a book to write, a blog
to keep up, on line groups to participate in
and a life to finish properly.And most of all,
I have a family both by blood and by choice
to love and cherish and finish my life with.
I know that as long as my life is of more
importance to others than my passing,
I owe a debt to try and preserve it.

Somewhere there is a wonderful lady
who's tears have bathed my face,
and we made a commitment that
I am not sure I understand yet.
I know only that it was meant to be.