Thursday, June 2, 2011

It's OK to be annoyed

I have come to the realization that much if not all of the outside circumstances in my life are actually mirrors to myself.  I mean this in the sense that people, situations and circumstances throw back at me whatever it is I am feeling, whether I am conscious of it or not.

This morning I was a bit cranky but put it off and tried to bypass the feeling and remember all that is good in life.  There is a TON of awesomeness in my life right now, but I just couldn't get into the mood of gratitude.  Still, I decided not to mope or feel frustrated, and chugged along anyway.

Throughout the day, several mildly annoying things came up.  I had a tick crawl on my book toward me.  I had a wasp land on my bag.  Clients showed up that were somewhat annoyed or annoying, I dropped my phone and the case fell off it.  I doodled at my drawing but was upset with it even though it was going well.  People I didn't want to deal with called, people I wanted to come didn't show up.  All of these things were annoying, but not really bad.  The tick didn't bite me.  The wasp didn't sting me.  The annoying clients were satisfied, and a few even turned into fun people I liked.   My phone is fine and all I had to do was put the case back on it.  The person who didn't show up is coming tomorrow.  I don't even have to reply to the phone people.  My drawing looks fine.  Really, it was just the slightest edge of annoyingness to everything.

On my drive home, slightly annoying things happened, like people blocking me from passing, or causing a jam by being slow.  Nothing awful.  And then it dawned on me.  I have been annoyed all day!  And to point this out, all of these slightly annoying things were happening around me and to me.  And if I would just feel annoyed already, for real, instead of ignoring it or pretending it wasn't worth being annoyed over, it could get better.

So I got annoyed with the car people.  I relived my day's annoyances and felt kind of pissed off about them.  I got annoyed that work was slow and then fast and then annoying.  I got annoyed that drivers were being doofuses, and that wasps wanted to land near my things, and a tick had made a beeline for my hand while I was reading my book on the lawn.  I got annoyed that I had to do stuff I didn't really feel like doing at all.  It felt, well, annoying!  And then it felt funny.  And then I felt better.

I am still mildly annoyed, but it is a little bit funny to me too.  I can see it for what it is.  I am not telling myself how right I am to be annoyed, or how awful it is to be annoyed.  Actually, it's kind of great to allow myself to feel it.  Usually I try to be a "good" person and in my mind "good" people never get annoyed or mad.  Especially for no reason.  But you know what?  I don't really care anymore, and that's a great place to be at.  Being annoyed is better than being artificially numb.  And letting myself be annoyed is actually letting it break up into a much lighter feeling, a combo of boredom and silly joy at the same time.  And I like that a lot.  It feels authentic.  And that's great!

I feel like stomping around a little, and the thought of that makes me want to laugh.  Sounds like a good way to end the evening.  STOMP CLOMP ARGH!  hehehehe.

Friday, May 13, 2011

List for the Universe to Accomplish

I'd like to share an awesome idea that I learned from Lola Jones, which is to make a list of things that you want or need, but that feel impossible for you to accomplish, and then let the universe provide it for you.  Essentially, you make the list, intend that a solution is found or the result you want arrives, and let go of trying to force it to happen.  You don't work on the items, you don't stress about them, you just put them on the list, and wonder in an innocent way, "I wonder how this will happen for me?"

Then, you just go about your life, and notice when something lines up in a way that matches what you want.  In those moments, you follow up, rejoice, and simply enjoy that you have gotten what you needed and the universe took care of you.

I have had remarkable success with this list already and have only really had one for about a month or two.  At first all I had on there was thank you for all the money coming in.  And lo, money started coming in!  Then I added, more clients, and artists to take them.  Improved relationships between my loved ones.  There was more but I already forgot it because I got it all already and have since made a new list.

Yesterday a tattoo artist from a shop in a neighboring state came by and wanted to work here.  His work is excellent, he has a load of clients, and will start with us next week.  This is a perfect solution, just what I wanted and didn't know how to get!  All of my relationships are getting a lot smoother and happier.  I am getting more relaxed.

I threw out my old list after raving about how awesome it is that I have gotten everything I asked for.  Now I have one that lists paying off my business credit card, flowing more money for myself and my workers, getting our house cleaned up and ready to sell for a great price, and even better health.  I can't wait to see how that all comes to pass.  Whoo -hoo!

The greatest part of it all is that I really have started to get out of my own way.  When I try to plot and force things along a specific path, it all gets difficult and messy.  I do things I think I should do instead of things I want to do or that feel good.  This way I can just do things that feel good and stop doing things that feel bad to get what I think I want.  I am learning that I can get what I want with a lot less work.  I can get it just because it wants to happen anyway, and I can just enjoy it and have even more energy to do even more fun things.

Yesterday I even did a drawing for the show that hangs tonight and opens tomorrow.  I never would have had the energy to do something like that even a month ago.  Lightening up is pretty awesome.  I am not worrying about my schedule as much.  I am not worrying that I need to force efforts to get clients to come in.  Instead I think, "thanks for all my awesome clients," and when they are sparse, I think, "thanks for the time to relax and get inspired."  Ideas are flowing, art is flowing, and clients are actually requesting more and more of what I actually want to do now. 

Life is good, people!  Make a list and enjoy.  :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sick for a week

I had the most impressive cold last week.  Actually, I still have it - it's been eight days today.  It started with just a tickle in the back of the throat and quickly blossomed into a full-blown lung-crushing wracking cough, replete with gross mucous and stuffed head and nose.  Today the cough is a lot less, most of the grossness having been expelled over the last several days.  But I am still marveling at how clinging this bug has been.  It's exhausting!

 I am reminded of the illnesses of my youth, when I was constantly on medication from about November until April every year with bronchitis, asthma and horrible colds and flus.  This sickness felt like that, causing the extreme difficulty in breathing that I remember as a kid.  I was prepared to have Derek take me to the clinic on Saturday to see if I had pneumonia.   But by the end of that day I was starting to clear up, and today I am remarkably better, if not completely well yet. 

It's my hope that this is all old energy and habits moving out of me.  I would be thrilled if this is the last illness of its ilk that I ever experience.  I'd be thankful to never wheeze again, have wet and heavy lungs, or the kind of stuffed nose that takes weeks to clear out.  So, thank you illness for clearing all this junk out of me, and may I never experience a lengthy and painful illness again!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Ask and Ye Shall Receieve

Today I am marveling at how easy life can flow when I get out of my own way.  I basically announced to the universe and myself this morning (and every day for a few months now), "Thank you for all of the money flowing to me and to those around me."  And lo and behold, I am getting lots of relaxed and happy walk-ins at the studio, filling up my time around cleaning and general web-maintenance.  It's awesome!

I spent the morning cleaning the house and listening to music.  I played with Sherazade and brushed her out.  I enjoyed the open windows and the warm breeze.  I am totally happy today!  Work has been very productive, with our sign coming down and Frank completing over half of the new paint job on the new sign over the entrance.  I have done two tattoos, ran the autoclave, drained the air compressor, and swept and mopped all the stations.  I also hooked up the printer so we can print posters for work, too.  All that and a marvelous sandwich for lunch, and having met Noon, the tattoo artist friend of Loic's from France.

I'm looking forward to all of the ways life eases up for me.  I've grown tired of trying to direct it all.  Now I am going to just enjoy asking for what I am want and curiously waiting and watching to see what opportunities unfold before me to sweep me along the way.  So far it's been pretty incredible.  Having only focused on money concerns over the last five months, I can only really track that aspect's progress for me.  But in deciding that money should be flowing, it certainly has been!  My debt is reducing, and I have even been able to talk about starting an actual IRA for myself.  Holy crap, that's amazing!  Five months ago I feared financial ruin and having to close my business or do it all myself.  Now, I am continually happy to have the help and support of my staff, we're raking in new and old clients by the handful, and I'm really enjoying everything that we are working on here.  Classes are showing up and people are interested in meeting here and renting our space.  The shows are getting better and selling art.  Wow!

In short, I can't believe I haven't gotten this concept sooner.  It's remarkably simple.  I suppose it's easy to just get caught up in what everyone else stresses about and believe I have to as well.  Also, I have tended to create problems everywhere by waiting for a shoe to drop whenever anything went right.  Now I am retraining myself to just notice when things go well and sing life's praises.  It is working out better for me.

I think we just got another walk-in.  Time to set up!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Consumption vs. Acceptance

Following a much older post about how the past probably wasn't worse than the present, I was thinking about the imbalances in our culture that could result in such a judgment.  American culture as I experience it is full of materialism and over-working.  Is this the result of capitalism?  Or is capitalism the result of our imbalances?

Our entertainment is full of advertisements, more so than other countries I have visited.  In part, this may be because the production values of our programming are much higher, so the government isn't subsidizing the cost of the shows.  But it also is a result of a desire for gaining as much profit as possible for one's efforts.  Sure you could pay off your costs and make a little bit of money with just one advertiser, but if you have ten, then you make a lot more money!

The culture promotes consumption to excess, even as it tells us to be considerate of the environment if possible.  I think part of the key here is the "if possible" part.  How is that even negotiable?  It gets a lot of us angry and fired up about this lack of propriety, but ultimately, consuming and producing takes precedence over conservation and cultivation.

In order to consume as much as you "should," it's a matter of course that you should work a lot for it.  Americans work more hours than anyone else in the world except for those in countries attempting to become like us, who work even more.  Simultaneously, we feel that the culture owes us something - that we deserve the best possible gain from our expenditures.  If we feel we are working hard, we deserve the best we can afford, full stop.  Work hard, play harder.

It seems to me that many of us are working very hard for rewards we think are coming later on in life.  But what good are those rewards then?  Why would we actively choose to delay contentment?  How did we get convinced that things are going to be great later, and settle for misery and mediocrity now?  How did we forget that now is all we have?

Also, if we are so concerned about how great everything will be later, why would we be so wasteful and destructive as we are, going about accumulating wealth and status?  Wouldn't we want to live in a clean and pristine world instead of a depleted and littered one?

I don't have anything profound to say about this right now, but the thoughts are bungling about in my head.  I personally want to make decisions now that are filled with contentment and joy.  I don't want to work incredibly hard to the point of misery, because why be miserable?  It won't make things better later on to be sad now.  It just accumulates more misery.  I also want to enjoy an environment that is living and happy and uncluttered with man-made stuff.  Or, on the other hand, to surround myself only with man-made stuff that is quite lovely and that I appreciate and use.  I don't want to own things just to own them.

In short, I reject the idea that I need to work constantly to earn enough to have things I don't really even want or need.  I need very little.  I want lots of things, but when it comes down to it, most of the things I want are experiences and not objects.  It would be well if more people knew that, too.  Right now, I want to go home and paint.  And so I am - ha!

On Children

In my life, I am often swept along by whatever is going on around me.  The desires of others, the circumstances that simply appear, opportunities that pop up and I can't resist.  It has been perhaps a little rare that I truly sit down and make a conscious decision about choices that make my life shift dramatically.  When I do, I often find myself in paralysis, unable to move forward because I like to keep options open as long as possible just to see what turns up.

Over the last several months, I have been deeply considering my life.  What is it right now?  How I am contributing to the world?  Where do I seem to be going, and do I like it?  Who do I surround myself with, and how do I fit best with all of these beings?  It has been a time of profound insight, and hasn't always been very pretty to look at.

One of the decisions that has been particularly hard to come by has been the one surrounding children.  Do I have them or not?  When should that happen?  What would it mean to me and my life?  How about Derek?  And, perhaps most importantly, do I even want kids?

This life-altering and life-creating decision has been fraught with anxiety for me.  I feel the longing of my husband for children, and I have felt scared because I have not been ready to have them.  I hear my grandparents asking about great grandchildren, and Derek's mother telling us that a psychic told her we'd have two kids some day.  All around me my friends are having babies, babies are showing up at work even though they shouldn't be, and I have felt completely confused in my reactions to all of these events.

I was starting to get annoyed with people making the comment that there is never a good time to have a kid.  I took it as a suggestion that I am procrastinating too much and making excuses to not have children that hold no weight with anybody else.  Even Derek has used this phrase with me while we discussed children, when I was expressing how I didn't feel I could be a mom and run my studio at the same time right now.

A large river seemed to spring up in my head between my business and artistic pursuits on the one bank, and a family with kids running around on the other.  I could see how it would be nice to be old and have children and grandchildren to share life with, and in some ways really would like that.  I also in no way could imagine having children as I am right now and still be able to put my energies into my work, which is really important to me and enjoyable.

I fear in many respects that I would resent a child for taking me away from tattooing, from the studio I worked so hard with others to create.  I fear choosing a child's well being over my own (and I know I would choose that), and watching as my involvement in the business I have created slips away, and I become irrelevant.   I fear wanting to travel or go anyplace and hearing shrieking children instead of peace and quiet.  And I simultaneously fear becoming old without laughing at a dinner table with kids of my own, or sharing the outdoors with them, instead only having my paintings and tattoos on other people to share or be a legacy of my instant on the planet.

This is tough stuff!  I have been on the fence about children from the beginning.  And as I grow older, I know that I only have another decade or so in which I could have my own kid.  Derek already worries about being too old to keep up with a child as they grow up, too.  My being digs in and says NO, don't have kids, you don't really want them right now.  And I argue with it and say, but what about Derek, who would be such a great dad?  What about if I get too old and can't have them anymore and I miss this opportunity?

If I listen to my deepest self, I come to the conclusion that I really do not want to be a parent.  At this time, which is the only time I have control over or access to, I do not want to get pregnant or raise a kid.  And so, it's OK to make that choice, to not have a child instead of continually acting as though maybe someday I will change my mind, probably next year, because it is always next year that I will change my mind. . . and then I never do.  I feel badly that I have been saying "maybe" and "probably yes next year" for eight years or so now.  Even as I say no, I say yes for later, and it is causing more pain than simply accepting that I don't actually want children.  I can see how the yes is my way of delaying the choice until I can't make it anymore and will sigh in relief and blame my withered body for not being able to have children instead of my own spirit consciously choosing not to.  In my fear, I figure if my body fails I am blameless, but if I choose actively to remain a non-parent then I may be judged unworthy, or foolish, or selfish.  But really, choosing to not choose is cowardly.  It means really I choose no, but am tricking everyone including myself into believing that very soon I could say yes.  It's exhausting and awful.

So I had the discussion with Derek to let him know that my initial response of not wanting children is still primary.  I really love my life.  I like what I am doing.  I love the people I spend time with.  I love him.  I am enjoying filling my life with my work, with art, with reading and philosophy.  I am enjoying spending time out in nature, going to the zoo, seeing art at auctions with him or at galleries and museums.  I don't have a void where children would live.  My life feels full already.  I don't feel a need to have children, and I don't want them.  I apologized for always telling him this with the caveat of, but in a couple of years, that might all change, and actually, we could flip everything upside down with my work and once it takes off properly it can function without me and then I could have kids. . .  I can see how this is creating false hope in him that I actually do want kids and simply don't have the means to have them now because work isn't really solid.  The truth is, it isn't work that is the limiting factor.  That's an excuse.  It is me.

And he is quite sad accepting my words.  And I am, too.  Even having chosen not to have children, I feel a loss.  I feel that I have crossed that river and am clearly on one side of it now.  My time of swimming in it, and keeping both options open is ending.  I feel sad for the life story I am losing of having descendants and going to music recitals and graduations and teaching someone how to drive.  Part of me wants to jump back in the river and stay in the middle, where those things are still possible on one shore.  But most of me is just sad, but happy to finally get out of the damn water and move on with my life.  The sadness will pass.  It's not the end of the world.  In fact, it might even be the beginning of one.

As with all major decisions that forever impact the rest of one's life, I am scared of choosing wrong.  Scared because once the decision is made, I'll never know what my life would have been like if I chose the other way.  But, the only way to really make a great life for oneself, I believe, is to really throw one's spirit in wholeheartedly into the life they actually have.  I need to stop swimming around and get out of the river, and start to build my life knowing that the longer I wait to get started on living, the less time I will have to enjoy it.

Another great point that was made to me is that decisions can be changed.  It is just important to make them in the first place.  Otherwise nothing can happen.  So here I am, with a decision.  I feel a little bit empty.  I am not sure what to do now.  But it is a lot less anxious than the indecision.  I'm sure plenty of opportunities will arrive to fill in the emptiness.  Something must fill up the space where all those unchosen opportunities resided.  I'm looking forward to seeing what turns up.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Cleaning and Decluttering take one

It's Spring Cleaning day at my home today.  At least, it is the start of it.  I feel excellent cleaning up all the dust bunnies and crumbs of the winter and getting them out of the place.  Even better, I am feeling glad to throw out useless items and consider what to do with the things that we don't use but could be useful to someone else.

It puts me in mind of moving, which I do think I really want to do.  A half-hour commute is fairly standard for most people around here, but it sucks the life out of me.  It's easier to just come home and stay put then to hang around work for a time and then go out, or leave an outing only to linger at work before we open for a few hours.  Our location limits my sociability, and I'm looking forward to remedying that.  Cleaning up in mind of moving is fun.

It's continually astounding the amount of stuff that humans accumulate, and I'm astonished that even though I believe that I don't really want a lot of things, I have so very many things anyway.  I really don't need even a fraction of it, and most of it doesn't bring joy.  So why do I hold on to it all still?

Today, I will decide to part with a significant amount of stuff that I have been hanging on to.  Trinkets that are unneeded I can either pass on, sell or throw out.  Clearing it out will leave room for better things, or even better, just space to breathe in.  We use that phrase as a metaphor, but I think it might be more important literally.  How fresh is our air when we clutter it with dusty junk?

I'm off to the donation bin right now with a large pile of clothes to give to others.  It makes me really happy, not just to provide for others, but also to get this stuff off of my floor, out of my closet and back into the world to circulate where it needs to go.  Stuff does me no good in a closet or being tripped on.  Off I go!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gratitude vs. Fear

How do our thoughts define our reality?  Is our waking life more real than our dream lives?  We seem to live with a general consensus that waking life is more real than our sleeping reality, and that on some level we all have to conform to the greater waking reality that we all share.

It leads me to wonder, how much of the greater waking reality do we really share?  Are facts actually true, or just items we've all agreed upon superficially?  From what I have observed, facts are greatly malleable as far as the meanings surrounding them are concerned.  And it seems to my observation that we construct our truths around perceived meanings, which are all quite individual.

In that case, do any of us really inhabit the same reality?  The people with whom I share the vast majority of my waking hours share a lot of experiences with me.  Or rather, they share a great deal of events with me. Their experiences of the events are as individual as we are from each other.  Our perspectives do not have to agree on anything, really.  For me, a moment may be experienced as pleasant and full of promise, while to another person that same moment might be experienced as annoying and gloomy.

Who then has the right of it?  I think we both do, in so far as both experiences happen and are valid.  It allows for two people to experience the same general events and have one feel as though they inhabit heaven, and the other hell.  How incredible that nugget of thought is to me - that realities diverge swiftly based on the individual perceiving it.  And it is the perception that defines their reality, not the external events, although external events will then conform to the actions taken by the individuals - and those actions are usually based in the belief or perception of the reality an individual holds.

I am noticing more and more that the world reflects back what we are to us.  We all have lots of aspects, so different people or circumstances and places bring out various aspects of ourselves for us to observe.  And that is pretty amazing!  It is often easier to see how another gets fed on the stuff that they surround themselves with.  For example, one who is always angry that people are out to take advantage of them continually finds more situations in which they believe this to be true.  Their attitude of mistrust, fear and anger creates a similar reaction in those who interact with them and creates a loop that feeds itself.  Easy to see from outside of the loop, and perpetually frustrating to the one caught in it.  It is difficult for us to see our own loops, but if we look for them, they become more apparent.

Gratitude seems to be a very potent attitude to have.  It's joy and contentment with what already is seems to bring more and more people and circumstances to be thankful for.  The more I adopt this attitude, the more it reinforces itself and it's quite a pleasant loop to be in.  On the other side, the attitude of disempowerment and inability to effect the world the way I want to is a very poor one to linger in, and I can see where it has hindered me a lot in my life and that it slows down the otherwise very effective attitude of gratefulness.  I think I have both of these attitudes going on much of the time, and they eventually cancel each other out if I stay too long in the frustrated and disempowered state.

At those times, I am not grateful for anything and more focused on how to get around obstacles.  More and more obstacles show up, and I feel more disempowered.  People aren't supportive or they try to help me.  Either way, I perceieve this as me not being powerful enough to do it myself and get frustrated and sad.  I get angry at being perceived as needing help.  I am afraid then, and start to believe that I really do need a lot of help and can't do anything on my own very well.  I complain a lot and others see that I need help and offer it, or sympathize about how difficult the world is to live in or how difficult and impossible it is to make new and exciting things happen.  I get more upset.

The very same situations, once I replace the disempowerment vibe with gratitude, take on a whole new emotion.  Suddenly I am grateful for the help.  People show up with ideas and ways of implementing plans that I couldn't come up with on my own.  I am thrilled to not have to work so hard, and even grateful that I am able to attract such help and awesomeness into my life.  I am no longer worried that by not doing everything myself that I have no worth.  In fact, I am thankful that I can put my energy into helping them instead of them helping me.  I get excited that I now have a group of awesome people all focused on a task together, all doing the parts that they enjoy and are good at.  I start to expect this kind of thing to happen all the time, and it really does begin to happen like that for me.  I want something, and within weeks or days, something unexpected and wonderful comes up that fulfills that desire.  The situations of fear and anxiousness start to break up and dissolve, replaced with situations of joy and gratitude and trust.

I think we trust reality a lot, not realizing that what we are actually trusting is our influence on reality.  We believe that what is outside of us (circumstances, people, objects, etc.) makes us feel a certain way and determines our options to create or exist or inhabit the world.  What is more true, I believe now, is that it is our emotions about life and circumstances and people that causes those circumstances, people and objects to appear, or to act or manifest as they do.  And if that is true (and more and more I believe that it really is true), there is no limit to the wonderful things we can do and create and be and enjoy.  It is unfortunately also the case that there is no limit to the amount of suffering we can put ourselves through as well.

In these times, I think it is best to focus on what we have that we are thankful for, on what it is that we want to create and share; for example, a clean and beautiful world filled with diverse and honored life, clean water and air, communities of people working to uplift and honor each other, and ways to share the incredible mystery that is life on this planet.  Ways to simply enjoy our lives right now, with loved ones, in jobs that we remember we have the power to alter to suit us as human beings - sharing our gifts with each other and for the world.  We can all be lovely without all trying to become in charge of the whole world.  We only need to be in charge of ourselves, and love it.  The more we succeed at this the more and more awesome life will become for all of us, I think.

Anyway, it is hard to describe the feeling that accompanies this essay.  The words feel overly simple and small for such a large feeling of vast possibility and wonder.  I hope that those who read it are able to pick up the gist of the idea and take something joyful from it, a feeling of their own incredible power to change their perceptions and attitudes into something they love, and let it ripple out from there.  I think as we do this, more and more people will do it, too - and the world will change, in an instant, to something so much brighter and hopeful and joyful than what it is in too many places right now.

What is time anyway, but a chance to try all of this stuff out?  Let's make it fun.  :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crow Time!

Yesterday I spent time outside walking with my mom in the morning, and later in the afternoon went walking with Derek.  Both times I got to see lots of crows, which made me very happy.  On my second walk, I offered some beef jerky to a pair of crows in a tree.  Being the cautious creatures that they are, the pair flew off to the opposite side of the field to contemplate my offering.  We continued our walk, and found that a few minutes later I had friends.  A crow was happily circling over our heads making the "Hey I'm here" caw, and seeing where I might lay down more food next.  I love crows!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Love for Japan

How does an individual process massive loss, such as that which is happening in Japan right now?  I am so removed from that area, but I am continually brushed by the presence of the Japanese people.  I am a huge fan of the Naruto manga and animated series.  My friend's brother has been doing an internship there for years.  She spent many months farming there a few years back.  I have studied the marital arts and Kosho Shorei a little bit, whose heritage is partially Japanese.  I tattooed a young man who lost his cousin in the tsunami this past week.  Japan is far away, but constantly in my presence.  It is part of the world, and part of me.  I am terribly sad about the pain and hardship being experienced there.  It is larger than I can process for the most part.

My hope is that each individual will hold hope in their hearts for the Japanese people, give what they can, and act with compassion.  This kind of disaster can happen anywhere, and has, and will.  The world is small now, we cannot pretend that what happens in one place does not effect everywhere and everyone else.  All beings are impacted by disasters, and it is in the way we respond to them that we can transcend our grief and fear and pain, and transform it into something better for all of the world.  Crisis can be an opportunity for massive change for the better, even as we acknowledge devastating loss.

It is time to come together, to work for the best of all of humankind, not just what is best for me, right now, right here.  It is a good time to remember the way of the Haudenosaunee people, who always considered the impact of their actions on the seventh generation away from them.  If we would all do that, we would understand that we need to take better care of each other, better care of our planet, act with love in our hearts rather than money on our mind.  The world would become a much safer, happier and loving place nearly instantly, I think.  Let's do that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring clear-out

My posting has been very sparse lately - I suppose that Spring has sprung, and I have been spending as much time as possible outside in nature instead of sitting inside at a computer.  Of course, today it is snowing again, so here I sit.  But this past week I have managed to spend every morning walking at the park and campgrounds before work for at least an hour, and yesterday took Derek along with me too.  It has been beautiful out, one day even hitting 70 degrees!

My whole mood shifts dramatically to the better in the Spring.  Without being cold I am a lot less grumpy.  Without having to contend with snow and ice, I am outside a lot more, and not stressed as much about driving.  My energy level feels through the roof, and I am tackling many unfinished projects and clearing out old clutter both literally and figuratively.

It feels good to let go of things I am not using.  I still struggle with throwing things away or giving them away if I suspect that I could use them.  But the truth is, I am not using these old things, and somebody else could be.  I really do only wear about 3/4 of what I own, and avoid the remaining 1/4 for whatever reason.  Why not donate the stuff I will never wear anyway to charity?  Why not sell it if I need the money?  The same gos for art supplies, my other vice.  I do use much of it, but there is a great deal that I do not use anymore because it is not what I work with.  I don't need giant canvases anymore because I prefer to paint on paper.  I don't draw with charcoal anymore, so why do I have newsprint?  A college student would be thrilled to get what it sitting in my closet and has been for years.  I think I will donate this stuff very soon.  I feel better when the space is clear, and more capable of being creative and using the stuff that is useful to me.

In a way, I need to pare down even the stuff on my computer.  The computer is useful, but has so much stuff on it that I can easily distract myself with things I barely enjoy just to pass time.  Why not delete it off the computer and be faced with actually turning this beast off when I am no longer using it for the purpose I set out to do at the beginning? No plants vs zombies, or peggle.  I could do my emails and then log off, as I have been this past week, and go outside to play. Or, the week before that, log off and read a book.  Both much more rewarding than zombie squishing.  :)

Anyway, this hasn't been a very thought-out post.  But I am alive, and working and well.  Back to life with me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring is Coming!

Spring brings such a boost of energy with it.  It is only barely above freezing, but already my heart skips with joy outside as the snow sparkles and melts into the stream behind our yard. Birds are singing happier songs and the wind is starting to come warmer from the south again.  Soon there will be long evenings, bonfires and hotdogs.  I can't wait!

I am happy to have Derek back from his travels.  The house feels more homey again.  Being able to open the windows and air out the place is wonderful.  Sherazade is often in a playful mood, and Timmy is starting to make appearances out from under his hiding bowl and water bowl.  I wake up with more energy than I did over the darkness of winter.  It's no wonder that this is the time of year where I start to feel myself again.  From here until autumn, I really delight in the world.  Someday I will perhaps find a love of winter, but if I don't I suppose that's just the way I am.  The cold and dark and icy does not suit me, and makes me cranky, tired and scared.  Someday I will live in an area that isn't so cold and dark and full of snow, and then I can appreciate winter's brevity.

I've a lot of drawings and tattoos to work on this week, and paintings to paint as well.  I'm looking forward to it!  Today I will get a drawing on a board, and work on another of the Bougureau interpretations.  Plus tattoo a hibiscus flower onto an ankle.  A good start to the week!

While my energy level is increasing, I lack many words about it.  Not much to say.  I want to exprience the day, and get on with it!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What we Feel is What we Get

I recently read something that spoke about how it is not so much thoughts that create our reality, but feelings.  The thoughts we hold onto create feelings, and the feelings then manifest our reality.  I believe that they are onto something here - it is true that when I am happy, happy things happen, more happy things happen, and better conversations spontaneously arise.  The books speaks about how we often unconsciously hold onto feelings or stuff them down, where they still exist and create our circumstances - and then we wonder why these things are happening to us, when in fact we are calling them in with our feeling.

The gist of the article is that we need to acknowledge feelings and let them evolve into happier ones, rather than ignoring or suppressing feelings we don't like and letting them fester.  When we do that, circumstances arise that match the hidden feelings, and we bring more of it to us.

I wonder why we find it so scary to feel sad or scared or lonely or angry, depressed or miserable?  Obviously those feelings aren't pleasant, but I agree that if they are felt without giving them more meaning than simply, "I am feeling bad right now," it quickly stops hurting and feels a little better.  The surmise of the article and book even is that if we let go of the stories we tell ourselves about how we got where we are and replace them with better stories, or eventually even let go of stories altogether, we can create anything we want.  It takes time, but slow and steady attention to feeling eventually makes us the master of our lives.

I have found this to be true so far in regards to work, and I want to make it true across the board for me.  As I let go of my story of lack, incompetence, inability to trust, and poverty, things are picking  up speed and happiness with alacrity.  My chair is full most days, the phone is ringing, classes are starting to fill up.  I am relaxed and even hopeful again.  There is still a bit of resistance in me to receiving this amount of awesome abundance, but I am learning to let go.  It's nice.  I want to do that with relationships and parents and friends now, too!

Anyway, this is what is on my mind today.  I'm busy autoclaving a week's worth of tattoo tools, and it's been a long time since we've had four batches to run just to keep up.  I like it!  Bring me more awesomeness, universe!  Yay!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Two Wolves

Bit by bit, I seem to be opening my eyes to reality.  I recently had a deepening understanding of the truth that what we focus on increases and gains more importance.  Over the last year I have been intent on discovering and embracing the darker aspects of myself.  No longer ignoring them or banishing them, but learning to embrace them as a part of me and accepting them.

In this process, I have been very willing to admit all my faults.  I am selfish, capricious, fickle, lazy, I have a short attention span, I want to be comfortable and adored and loved all the time despite my own actions, I limit my vision of the future to avoid seeing what I don't want to see, I have a hard time saying no. . . there is plenty about me that is less than desirable.

In each instance that these aspects of myself came up, I would acknowledge it.  I would even try to like that part of myself, or revel in being that person for the moment, in an attempt to accept it more and reduce conflict in my heart.  I would try to be mean or sneaky or lazy with a will instead of unconsciously being that thing I dislike.  In many ways, this has opened me up to more of who and what I am.  However, I now understand that the more I indulge these aspects the deeper they become.  No longer a part of myself that I avoid, they could become parts I enhance, and I don't really want to do that.

I have a bit more of an understanding about the two wolves battling in one's heart, as the metaphor goes.  The one you feed is the one that wins.  At first I was just wanting to know what the dark wolf was, what it wanted, how it worked.  And it was good to learn more about her, because she is a part of me that will run my life from a subversive and unconscious place if I ignore her.  I don't always understand why she wants to leap into the hurtful things, but I get the sense that she is the part of me that wants to experience everything, whether it hurts me or not, whether it hurts others or not.  She wants this simply to be alive, to have all of the experiences, to vibrantly suffer and cause suffering, to willfully and joyfully enjoy earthly delights.  There is some beauty in it, I can't deny that.  Her gift is to balance the light wolf, who dwells in the theoretical and ethereal, honorable and virtuous but apart from the guts and gore that is corporeal life.  The light wolf loves from a place of grandeur and morals, logical, sweet and calm.

To focus only on the dark wolf led me to spiral a bit into self-pity, wondering why doing what I seemed to want to do caused pain.  Allowing every whim to surface and be followed through on got a bit chaotic.  To make sense of it, the mind tried to impart meanings where there were none; make up stories to fill in gaps and create histories that were false.  Deciding that I WAS the dark wolf - selfish, seductive, crafty, epicurean, lazy - framed all of my thoughts and actions for the time.  But I am more than that.  I am also the light wolf - brilliant, creative, generous, thoughtful, industrious.

I suppose the union of the two wolves is the best idea, instead of starving one and bloating the other, then switching which one gets to be fed.  Balance is important.  In remembering that I am not only darkness but also light, my entire being is returning to a state of peace.  I feel closer to being ME, and not just aspects of myself.  Isn't it interesting that we need to swing the pendulum far out in both directions in order to remember that we don't have to be fully on one side all the time?

This weekend has been one of rest and rejuvenation.  I am really happy to remember that I am allowed to simply BE, even if I only remember it for a little while.  Baths, candles, fresh food, music, friends.  Life is good.  :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Does One Begin a Meditation Practice?

I've been noticing that it is a lot easier for me to meditate when I picture something happening.  I have to follow the breath and picture it like an ocean tide, in and out, in order to stay with it for any length of time.  If I am just being still and "blank" too many thoughts come in and I don't notice very well that I am thinking until I am bored of sitting still and wander off.  When picturing waves or following the feeling of warmth from the in-breath into my belly and out again, I can calm down and notice extraneous thoughts a lot easier.

I actually like meditating when it calms me.  I know that this isn't the point of it so much - the point is just to do it and notice what you are thinking or feeling.  But I like it a lot more when the thoughts finally slow down and stop slamming into my consciousness with force.  For me, it is a lot more successful when I don't have anything else to be doing, or feel like I could/should be doing.  Far from being a priority, I relegate the stillness to a back burner.  I should be reading, or drawing, or cleaning, or catching up on emails.  I should be out for a walk, or cooking, or spending time with Derek since there is so little time for that.  It feels selfish to schedule a time for meditation during the hours that Derek is home with me.  And yet I don't find myself doing meditation in the mornings, because I spend those hours waking up, washing, last-minute work drawing or emailing, and sometimes wanting to relax and read or play a game or play with the cat.

Does anyone I know have a successful meditation practice?  How do they establish it and make it a welcomed part of their day instead of constantly shoving it to "another time" because sitting around watching TV seems more convenient.  Is meditation even supposed to be convenient?

I see that I do get a lot out of the practice, when I do it, and I can see how with regular practice I could be a lot more chilled out and more present.  I would like to do that for myself.  How to start making it a habit?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Things I am Happy About

My car runs awesome and gets me places.
It's getting ever warmer, and only rain is in the forseeable forecast, not ice and snow!
I'm making green beans and mushrooms for dinner.  Yum.  :)
Work is getting more fun, and our guest artist Loic is very funny.  It's nice to meet someone who gets along well with everyone at the studio so quickly.  I hope he visits CT more often!
Even though I burned my tongue on my tea this afternoon, my tastebuds are regenerating speedily.  I am a healing machine.  Yeah!
My bed is comfy and has my husband in it to snuggle with.
Derek bought me a very pretty old clock at the auction last week and I find it calming to listen to.
I ate a yummy burrito this afternoon, and the green beans and mushrooms just now were delightful.
The ice near my car in the driveway is almost gone.
The satin soap I rediscovered is doing wonderful things for my skin.
I have almost all of my drawings for work completed.  Only two more to go.
I get to paint tomorrow night and teach people about oil paint.
I get to do a tattoo of wolves tomorrow!
I may start brainstorming a crow tattoo for myself soon as well.
I am making new friends and feeling loved.
Money is flowing to me and I am feeling generous and glad.
The credit card bill is shrinking and I am reducing it quickly.
People are interested in Jordu's class and more will sign up soon.
I am getting more sleep and it is improving my energy level.  Last night I wasn't nearly as warm as I was the night before.  I am getting healthier!

Time to meditate and go to bed.  And read.  I am feeling fairly lively.  Probably because I just finished eating dinner.  Yum.  Food really is a joy.  Thank you, food!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Things I am Happy About

It's sunny and warm out!
Had a wonderful date with my husband yesterday.
We have lots of yummy real food in the fridge, so I don't have to eat canned soup today.
Work was busy last week and we're making money!
I have a cat purring on my lap.
I have lots of books to read and have been reading every day, which I like.
I have a chiropractic appointment and massage this evening - yay!
I had a student I don't know sign up for my painting class, which is really cool.
I got to sleep in for two days, and feel a lot better having rested.
Our plants are doing well and getting bigger as the sun is out longer.
The snow is melting, finally.
We have lots of pretty blue jays coming to the bird feeder each day.
I have been seeing animals out and about every day, which makes me smile.
Derek has been helping me with cleaning the house a lot more since I started cleaning a lot more.  It's a good cycle.
Friends have been stopping by to say hello and hang out with me more frequently.  I feel loved and appreciated - yay!
Derek went out with the guys last night!
I am feeling more secure that work is taking care of me and itself, which is a great feeling.
I get to have a nice hot shower in a moment.
We bought some lovely soap from Lush! that I look forward to using.
I love the scent of the hand soap we have in the bathroom. (raspberry vanilla)
My breakfast cereal was very satisfying.
We will get money back from our taxes.  Yay!
A friend posted a recipe for thai iced tea and I can't wait to make it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Just Want Something Already!

My husband brought up an interesting observation about me this afternoon, and I am thinking about what it means for me.  He observed that I seem to be unable to ever give a definitive answer about what I want or would like.  I often agree that something would be nice, but almost never do I actually say I want something or firmly commit to anything.  Ah, more truth.

This inability to deeply feel wanting of anything is something I think I have cultivated in myself, but that I don't believe is serving me all that well.  In my head, not wanting much was a good thing, a sign of not being attached to worldly possessions or circumstances.  But as much as that seems like a great trait to have, it leads me to a lot of misery and confusion.  In trying not to get too attached to anything or anyone, I end up mucking up a lot of things, and can see how it leads to a lack of follow-through with projects, since they cease to matter much to me after a while with that attitude.

Also tied in with this to an extent is the desire to make everyone else happy above myself.  Since I don't seem to care what I am doing or have, I go out of my way to help others have what I think they want.  But actually, this is likely subconsciously self-serving, me trying to get what I want without me knowing what it is I want.  Hmm.

What's interesting is that as soon as I pick something I actually want, it usually pops up and happens fairly quickly.  Perhaps it would be best to be a lot more clear on wants, and stop judging them all as bad.  It is not bad to want money, to want a home close to work, to want vacations with my husband and a nicer wardrobe.  It's only that I judge wanting those things as petty.  I think I should want "bigger" things, like peace and transcendence and unconditional love for all.  Perhaps if I would relax and do and get what I want, those bigger things would happen all on their own.

I only sabotage myself by starting to become materially sound and then putting on the brakes and thinking about how it can't last, or it isn't worth continuing to focus on.  The same is true for my relationships with Derek and friends and family - I start to become close and then fear that I could become too dependent on these other people, so I pull away and find excuses to withdraw.  The irony is that I am already dependent on everyone, and they on me, too.  Isolating myself or impeding my progress is hurting all of us, not just myself.

This blog is becoming a bit heavy with these darker self-realizations.  I suppose I am writing about them to get them out of my head and to remember I had them.  But, there are also many bright realizations and happinesses occurring right now.  Next blog post will be about all of the many things I have to be thankful for! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Storms of Spring

There was a thunder storm last night - so wonderful!  For me, the thunder signals the advance of Spring, and for me the Spring can't come soon enough this year.  It's been cold and icy and snowy for months.  Far more snow than we usually get, with over 3 feet on the ground here and the pile around the driveway closer to 5 1/2 feet for much of January.  I am glad to see it melting today and looking forward to clearer roads and the ability to get to work again on a regular basis.

I love the refreshing quality of rain, and especially thunder storms.  The lightening and thunder are energizing, and make the air feel cleaner and more free somehow.  Like any stuff caught in the ethers gets dissolved, making space for brighter and lighter thoughts.  And the clap of the thunder and rolling grumbles of it seem to respond to everyone and everything, like if you reach out in thought to it, it answers.  A conversation with the sky, a connection to the vastness of creation as the light and sound move, and the rain falls to wash everything with its cleansing touch.

Today is a day of getting the boring legwork done on projects - converting files so I can pick which references to use for the acupuncture charts, getting the Bouguereau master copy with tattoos sealed up and ready to frame, mounting the next painting so I can start on it tomorrow, and updating the newsletter email list.  Stacey's birthday party is tonight, and I am looking forward to that, too.  And reading!  All is well with the world.

I welcome the onset of warmer times with open arms and a hopeful heart.  May this month be full of exciting tattoos, great friends, yummy food, and outdoor fresh air.  Let's pay down a lot of debt, make strides to be even more well-known as a studio, and get started on the house projects that will make this house sellable in the Summer.  Once the snow is gone, I'd like to get our deck redone and the addition re-drywalled.  It's all going to come together in a happy way.

Time to get those paintings ready!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lightening Up

This morning was the first day I have woken up really happy in a while.  It was awesome!  I actually wiggled my toes and thought, "I love me!"  I would like to wake up every morning like that.  :)

Work is sorting itself out.  Lots going on, but flowing nicely.  I am letting go of being angry every time I get snowed out.  My road stresses me greatly, as it's become a narrow, lumpy sheet of ice with shelves of ice along the edges that are high and uneven.  But, it is raining today and warmish tomorrow, so perhaps the jagged lumps will diminish and become drivable again soon.

Two days ago on my way into work I was stressing on the road adjacent to ours, heading to the highway.  I was going slow, about 20mph, when 5 deer frolicked across the road with glee.  I say they were happy because there was much neck-tossing and a jubilant air about them as they leaped across the road.  I fortunately saw them heading through the woods and was already decelerating and braking well before they reached it.  Good thing, too, as I fishtailed and came to a stop much later than I would have hoped, even being prepared for that.  The sixth deer was going the other way, into the woods instead of heading to the field.  I am glad I saw them, but it does make me feel justified in avoiding the roads on icy conditions even more.  If I can't stop well at 20mph, how can anyone expect to at 30 or 40, which is what everyone else seems to travel at on my roads?

Even so, I am feeling happy and glad today.  We got half of the acupuncture chart model shoot done.  I had expected both models to show up but one couldn't make it last minute.  And even that isn't bothering me much.  I have plenty to work on for now, and am glad.

Things that I have been doing lately that seem to help with my mood and general level of happiness:  I am reading more and taking time to do so.  I have read almost a book a week for two weeks now.  I like it a lot!  I am remembering to be thankful for the good things I do have and am making a big deal of it to myself whenever I can remember to.  And I am working on my own art a bit more as well. 

Things that are good that are coming out of this shift:  I am calmer, with the reading, than I am with more tv or games.  That is nice.  I am seeing where I have fallen out of being a good leader at work, and am starting to think of ways to shift my role back into a good space.  I want to tattoo more and get more done there.  I am happy to have people to lean on, but want them to be able to lean on me.  Otherwise I am just a boss and not a leader or any kind of good example at all.  While it's not fun to see where I haven't been living up to my standards, it is leading to growth.  And, I am seeing more of ways I can be more involved in my personal life as well.  It's like waking up to being an adult for the first time in my life and starting to understand more of what that means.  It is not what I think it meant five or ten years ago.  It will probably change a lot over time.  But I am seeing what is good for now, and what hasn't been serving.  It's good to recognize.

I've been making a large effort to reincorporate God into my life.  I don't really like that word, but maybe more of allowing creation and the vastness of what is to become more personal and involved in my life.  Sharing grief and happiness, asking for what I want more and starting to listen to the voice within that responds to these questions and requests more than I have in the past.  I don't want to only reach out to myself/the divine when I am in a state of duress anymore.  I'd rather have it be more fun and creative.  And so it is becoming so, and synchronicities are beginning to surface more often, like they did in my childhood.  It is a more peaceful and exciting way to be.

Anyway, I'm glad to finally post something uplifting for myself.  All of these troubles are starting to break up.  Ahhh.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Peeling an Onion

As humans, we seem to have a hard time changing our minds about anything.  I'm not talking about changing our mind about dinner, or a pair of shoes.  It's the beliefs we have about how our lives work that we have a hard time adjusting.

Perhaps it is because by the time we think to question our assumptions and really look at them, they have already served us for decades.  I don't know many teenagers who wonder if their ideas about life are correct or not - they are too busy living and trying everything out for the first time.  Those in their twenties are pushing to establish who they are.  And in our thirties, as I am, I find we are all questioning how we got here as well as still trying to figure out who we are.

It is difficult to see our beliefs when we are in them.  We can feel and sense where some of our conclusions are off, or aren't serving us anymore.  But trying to pinpoint them can be so elusive and frustrating.  Often we just end up seeing the edge or result of a belief and not the belief itself.  Like peeling an onion, layers upon layers of patterns emerge.  It is amazing to start to see how much of our life just builds on the last layer, whether or not that layer was injured or diseased or cancerous.

To truly break a cycle of behavior, thought and emotion, we have to leave the old pattern behind.  We can only do that if we can identify and replace the seed of all of the previous layers.  I think that when we do that, the changes can be instantaneous and lasting.  It has to be a fundamental shift, like an evolutionary leap.  Otherwise, the changes are just surface adjustments, once again.

Perhaps this is why religion holds such fascination for humanity.  All religions speak of leaps of divine grace and intervention, where in an instant, those seeking relief or enlightenment just suddenly wake up and become the Buddha, become a saint, or reach a level of bliss that the rest of us ordinary folks can only dream about.  Is it their faith that delivers them, allowing for their brains to be rewired, their memories rewritten to be compassionately remembered?  Or is faith simply a word we have for perfect allowing for a change to be made?  Allowance of a different way of thinking, feeling and believing, without doubt and without worry or fear of slipping backwards again.

We all want to be peaceful, to accept our faults and gifts, to love and be loved, to make a difference in our world.  How do we let go of our fears and simply exist, free to be as we are, loving and breathing and creating together with all that is around us?  I'll let you know when I figure it out.  We could all use an instant of divine grace and transformation.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Difficulty of Accepting Snow-Fear

What is the dream I have for myself?  I have been trying to figure this out for years, but still am not sure that I can narrow down the theme, or if I even have one.  Some days it feels so simple to just wake up and be happy and ask questions like, "what would be fun to do today?" and follow that.  But many other days, I am caught in obligations that I have made for myself, or believe that I have, even if they don't exist outside my head.

If I open up and allow for anything, I want to live somewhere warmer, with a lot less snow.  I'd like to be outside more for eating breakfast, reading books, and enjoying the fresh air.  I'd like to paint a bit, tattoo a bit, read and hike a bit.  These activities could fill my days and I would be content.

I suppose the good news is that I already read, paint, tattoo and even hike a bit, so I am not far off my mark.  I think I must just be bitter about the weather being so full of ice and snow lately.  I am not good at accepting limitations, and I need to come to terms with how I am.  I hate driving in snow, on snowy roads, or on ice.  It stresses me so much to do it that I am in tears or on the verge of them all day, and I fear my heart might explode, but at the same time kind of hope that happens just to put me out of my misery.  If I am able to stop feeling like my staying home is the end of the world, then life could go on quite peacefully and happily.  But I build up this idea that by staying home I am weak, disappointing and foolish.  I fear that I am damaging my friendships by being unreliable.  But actually, if I always stayed home in snow, that's pretty reliable.  Time to accept this and let it go.  Ugh.

It is moments like these that I realize how much I get caught in patterns of belief and thought, and that it feels very had to change it at all.  There is a stubbornness to my feelings that precludes reason.  Telling myself to feel better about a situation does not make it automatically happen, even though I want it to.  I suppose the next thing to do is to accept that I feel bad about my inability to drive without unreasonable fear, and just allow myself to feel bad about it without doing anything. 

What usually happens is I feel bad about it, force myself to drive anyway, then feel bad about my "overreaction" to driving, spend the day upset, crying, easily angered and scared, and terrified of my inevitable drive back home.  The people who spend time with me get to hear about my horror, which I am sure is annoying and not fun for them.  I am resentful of them for "making" me come out, even though they ultimately had nothing to do with that decision, it was all in my head that they "needed" me to come out.  I spend the entire day a bundle of nerves, unable to really focus or get anything done because I am preoccupied with visions of spinning cars and crunching metal.  So not worth it, even if it is all in my head!

My options at this point are to either "get over it", which I honestly feel I have been trying to do but unsuccessfully; move to an area that doesn't have snow and ice, which is complicated by the fact that I share my life with a man who likes this area and has a job here, and I have a job here too; or get comfortable with the knowledge that I am just not leaving my home in a snowstorm anymore and stop forcing myself to be like everyone else who is able to drive in snow without feeling like they might die the entire way.  This is the viable option.  Just stay home, and stop torturing myself about that decision, since it won't change my fear of snow death to pretend I don't have it.

Life, please be simple and help me not feel bad about staying home in snow and ice anymore.  Help me learn to love this part of myself that I hate right now, so I can come up with other things to do on snow days than berate myself for being stupid and fearful and disappointing.  It would be so much nicer to spend the day honestly having fun doing something.  Let's do that today, ok?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snow and How it Paralyzes Me

Phobias are no joke.  I have had several bad incidents with driving on snowy and icy winter roads.  Today it was snowing, but I was told that the roads weren't bad, so off I went thinking I would make it to my acupuncture appointment and then to work with no trouble at all.

About a half hour into my drive, and only halfway to the coast, I pulled off the highway to a gas station in tears and called Lari while I sobbed and wondered what to do.  The roads seemed horrible to me, full of slush and barely plowed.  Too many cars, I hated the occasional shimmy that my car would make on some snow or slush, and I just wasn't sure if I would make it to work.  I canceled my acupuncture appointment since I was already late, canceled my dentist appointment for Thursday since it is supposed to snow then, too, and then shook and cried while watching the monsterous snow flakes fall onto my car in the parking lot.

Eventually, I decided since I was already halfway to work, and had two appointments to do, I would just breathe and drive and get there.  The rest of the drive was stressful and to me, horrible.  Once in New London, it was fine, as apparently they have enough traffic on their roads to melt the snow.  Our parking lot was bad, lots of soft snow on top of ice.  I hated it.  But I got there.

I hate feeling an honest fear for my life in situations that require me to be in vehicles in the snow.  I feel weak and foolish and know that I am in some instances overreacting, but I know from experience that the illusion of control over one's vehicle in snowy conditions is just that, an illusion.  Tap your brakes once and shimmy the wrong way, and you can end up upsidedown in a ditch, flung off a highway, or with your car completely accordioned around another car.  It's scary, and unpredictable, and I don't want to feel that kind of helplessness just because I somehow think I "need" to be somewhere that day.  I really think I should stop pushing myself to get over this, as every time I try I end up in a heap of tears and nerves, or else with a broken car in the shop, and with tears and nerves.

Blaaaaahhhhhh!  I spend a lot of time hating the snow and weather, but maybe what I am really hating is that I really don't want to leave in that weather and drive or be driven anywhere, and I am upset because I feel like I should do it anyway, or be able to.  Perhaps one of my limitations in life, as annoying as it is to me and others, is that I just can't and won't drive in the snow.  Is that really that horrible?  Winter is only 1/4 of the year.  And it only snows about 1/4 of the time in the winter.  So for 1/8 of the year, I just won't go out or work because it's too damned scary for me.  And you know what?  If I don't die, I can work and go out the rest of the year.  Which is a lot of time, if I don't die.

It's going to snow another 10 inches tomorrow.  It did at least three today.  We have gotten at least 3 feet of snow already this winter and it isn't even February yet, which I think of as the snowiest time of year.  Fuck you winter roads and all your stupid lack of plowing or being safe.  ARGHHHHH!!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Conflicting Desires

The weeks are flying by this January!  Much as I know that as we get older time seems to pass more quickly, it never stops surprising me.  Already we are over halfway through the first month of the year.  A good aspect to this year is that the Three Things mantra really seems to be working out well.  I have gotten a lot done in three weeks, including a painting, lots of planing for the business with events and contacts, and have even set up for my class at Earthfire Institute in the summer.

Doing tasks one at a time with only three major goals per day, however small they are, is giving my life a steady pace without a huge amount of stress.  I've also been finding that I am more willing to open up and say what I mean more often, which is a blessing.  I have found it very difficult to feel vulnerable and if I get hurt once, I tend to close off that entire aspect of my life from the one who hurt me.  I am learning to be more honest with myself about doing that, and seeing more clearly when and why it happens.

In return for this hard look at myself and seeing some of the crud that I have left there, my relationships across the board are on a huge upswing.  As it turns out, even though I fear it, nobody is actually out to hurt me.  It's even embarrassing to admit that I felt that way, so I think I even kept it from myself.  Somewhere in my heart I was very scared that people find me funny and hold onto ways that I am stupid or ridiculous and make fun of me.  I worried that they wanted to take control of everything from me because they think I can't do it well myself.  I'm tired of being that insecure, and am hoping that I can find ways to love and accept even these parts of myself that are fearful children.

It has been a snowy January this year, and we've had the studio closed several days already.  This will be the fourth day closed for snow this month, maybe the fifth.  I am really glad we worked the last week of December into January!  Even with the weather being uncooperative, we have been getting steadily busier.  I am excited about the flow of people and picturing an even larger flow of clients into the business.  I am also looking forward to the transition to a more tattoo oriented space this year.

At home, we've been eating down our freezer downstairs.  We had lots of meat from my dad's hunting, and from gathering "deals" over the last two or three years.  I am glad to be clearing it out, it feels like one step closer to actually being present or being ready to move to another space.  We are starting to clear out this one - yay!  It's a nice parallel to the way I have been clearing out my soul a bit.  It feels at times uncomfortable, but overall a lot lighter and easier to work with.  And often, even delightful and happy, which is always nice.  Tonight we are having ribs and potatoes and maybe some green beans.  Yum!

This process of unfolding the more hidden aspects of myself and noticing them is making me fairly untalkative.  I have a lot of, "Oh wow!  I totally didn't realize I felt this way," moments, and "Ah, that's what I have been doing, interesting," realizations.  Once I see why I am doing something, I am able to decide whether it's an effective way to deal with the world or not.  Most of the time it hasn't been, but I have been able to be kind to myself in at least understanding why I did things, or the motivation behind them.  So much of what I do hasn't been conscious, even though I had believed that I was pretty aware of what I do and how I feel.  I actually have buried so much of my honest feelings from the surface in order to feel safe and protected that my actions are pretty fragmented versions of what I think I want.  I have been out of touch with my basic feelings and motivations, and only aware of the feelings that overly them.  No wonder life got so confusing and painful!  The things I was trying to do were not in accord with what I thought were my motivations, so I got confused and spent a lot of time combating symptoms rather than causes of my situations.  This is probably what medicine is like, too - combating symptoms all the time because the causes are so unclear due to people protecting themselves from their real issues.  Humans are so tricky!

Right now I am just practicing noticing reality (harder than one would think), and accepting my strange responses to life.  I am seeing how much I like to have immediate gratification to every whim, and how often I pursue that.  Also, I am seeing how often my every whim isn't actually in line with what I really want deep down, but is a way to avoid being patient, working at something, or trusting that everything is coming to me that I want already.  I think I get in my own way a lot by trying to deliver results to myself when if I could just trust that the universe is working properly and I will get what I want pretty quickly with less interference on my part.  Trust is going to be a keynote this year for me.

It seems time to eat breakfast and go shovel the driveway so Derek can get in OK.  Ahh, snow.  Please end sometime soon.  We have enough right now.  Thanks.  :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Conscious Creators

I have been thinking a lot about how we as humans are creators, and how we create our realities.  I am still wrapping my head around the idea that not only does this effect our interpretation of what goes on around us, but it actually creates the circumstances in our lives in each moment, too.  Incredibly powerful!  So, how do we decide what we actually want, then?  I see that so much of my life in its current state has been unconsciously created, and the few threads that I have thrown energy towards consciously are surprising to me and I don't know what to do with that.  Some of the honest thoughts of what I want have been foreign to me, I am unable to understand where the thought comes from, but the feelings behind them are so strong.  They extend beyond just work, or where we live, but even to who is around us, and the spirit in which they approach us.  Holy crap, if we have that much control over our lives why do we allow ourselves to suffer, and what are the ways I am causing my own suffering through being unclear in what I want?

I have a fear of being reckless, though I delight in it as well.  I mean, I really truly love recklessness, and find it so taboo as well that I basically halt myself from enjoying experiences even as I set them into motion.  My whole life it seems is full of this pitch - work, relationships, friendships, money, hobbies.  I apparently like riding the edge more than I gave myself credit for.  What happens if I embrace it?  Can this be a great strength?  I suspect that embracing our true nature has a great deal of power and joy in it, if we let go of the fear and really allow ourselves to be as we are.  I am surprised at how others percieve me sometimes.   Are they picking up on my true intents below the surface of my awareness?  I would love to come to know my own intentions better, accept and love them, and welcome others responses to me in that aware and loving state.  It could be such an easy existence, trusting that everything is flowing to me exactly as I set it forth, and therefore I would never need to be fearful, since I would be clear on what I was bringing my way instead of always in the dark about it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Daruma Doll Intention

Kagami Biraki was on Saturday, and Derek came with me to the dojo for four hours of meditation, ceremony and physical training.  Over half was actual workout, and today and yesterday we both have been walking around the house feeling very sore.  Nothing like jumping into an intense workout to remind you that your body has been pretty neglected for a while.  Whew!  My triceps and stomach muscles are so tired!

During the ceremony we dedicated our daruma dolls toward whatever goal we set for ourselves for training over this year.  It was great to see so many people all gathered together with intention to grow.  My goal is one of learning to relax, interestingly enough.  I want to truly become OK with doing just three things each day.  Not twenty, not zero, but three things.  The real intent is to find a more manageable pace for myself.  I'd rather have endurance throughout the years of my life by continually accomplishing things at a slower pace than to always rush and stop, haphazardly doing things and not quite completing them to their best advantage.

Already, I am finding it easier.  Three things per day quickly reduces my lists.  It also allows for fun time, time with friends, time with Derek, time to read.  I can do three things thoughtfully, completing them well instead of just getting through it and on to the next thing.  I'm feeling happier about it.  I'm opening up to the idea that life can be and is a lot more fun than I believed before.  Work doesn't have to be hard or boring or annoying or scary or intimidating.  It can be fun, rewarding, easy, creative and joyful.

Tomorrow I am going in earlier than usual since we'll be snowed out on Wednesday.  I'm looking forward to it, actually.  I want to get my autoclave cleaned, the air compressor drained, and do some tattooing.  I also want to get references printed out for painting on Wed from home, since I will be snowed in.  I have the Tattooed Goddesses show at Off the Map soon, and have yet to get a painting started.  Well, tomorrow is as good as any to start.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Life Can Be Easy

It is joyful to come to a place of rest and acceptance of life.  Rather than railing at the past, or lamenting about the present, or even worrying or pushing towards the future, today and yesterday evening I have found a place of comfort and ease with what is.  The Three Things idea is great for me right now.

What is interesting to notice is that outside circumstances have not actually changed all that much.  It is merely my attitude that has brightened up, and in this lifting of spirit, what were once grave problems now seem small and manageable, or even non-issues.  I could live like this, in ease and playfulness, forever.

I have come to realize that I have had some very limiting beliefs about money, about friendships, about love and about success.  Knowing that my ideas have been throwing lots of adversity into my face, I am starting to let them go.  Actually, I don't know anything about how money works.  I don't know about how friends or lovers or success work.  I'd rather allow myself to be surprised by how awesome and easy all of this can be than to continue to believe that it all has to be some kind of triumphant struggle.  My romanticization of struggles and tragedies has been landing a lot of those into my life.

I seriously had some idea that success has to be hard-won.  My belief has been that it is hard to get ahead, and that I am special because I will always somehow succeed, even against adversity.  Actually, I am special because I can conquer adversity and prove to the world that I am better than the challenges that turn up.  And I think life gives me these challenges because I kind of requested them.  Without all of this difficult struggle, I wasn't able to have success as I defined it, which was managing to "do all this stuff" even though it is hard.  I push and strive, and make small headway, always just barely staying ahead of my problems, because to me it has been this staying ahead of problems which was success.  I have given myself all that I asked for, and it turns out what I asked for kind of sucked.

Well, now that I see I have been doing this, it all appears laughable.  Why would I want to struggle all the time, barely getting ahead and calling that success?  For sympathy, I think.  But now I don't really care for sympathy.  I would much rather have congratulations and joy.  I am telling the universe that I am letting go of my attachments to specific outcomes and will start to ask for what I really want.  I don't want struggles.  I want joy.  I want money.  I want love and laughter.  I want health.  I don't want it at a high cost, I don't want it after hardship and only by the skin of my teeth.  I just want to enjoy my life and do fun things like tattoo, paint, cook and spend time with my loved ones playing.  I am tired of buying into the consciousness that life is hard and we all are undeserving of pleasure and so we have to earn it all and feel guilty about it.  What if it is as simple as believing that life can be easy?

In the past, every time I tried to pick up that belief, I quickly was told that it was unrealistic, even if it was already bringing results into my life.  And I agreed and felt guilty and stupid for thinking it could be that easy.  But somewhere deep in my soul I do believe it is true that whatever we believe comes true, and so why would I keep choosing to hurt myself and others around me by creating difficult situations with my limiting beliefs?  It's hard to talk about this concept, because the words sound overly simple and foolish - but the idea that what we focus on becomes our reality feels pretty irrefutable to me.  As I understand life, from a personal perspective, it pretty much reflects to us whatever we expect to find.  We see it in others all the time but often fail to notice it in ourselves.

This week, I am going to try expecting money, laughter, good food, snuggling and joy.  When I notice myself expecting struggle, pain and disagreements, I will admit to myself that I have no idea how the world works, actually, and ask for what I really want instead of what I expect.  Chances are any dissonance comes up mostly because I believe it will be there, and not because it has to be there. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Three Things

So I noticed this morning and last night that my usual mode of operation is either to spiral all over the place doing things - getting stuff done, adding more stuff to do, thinking about stuff, talking about stuff, generally throwing stuff all over the place in a fit of action and industriousness - and staying very still, doing nothing, procrastinating about stuff, or ignoring stuff, stopping to the point of actually feeling upset about not doing anything, while simultaneously forcing myself not to do anything, because I have decided that I need to relax and slow down.

Ha!  What if I just slowed down while doing things so that I didn't have to be crazy, nor feel bad for stopping completely?  What a novel idea.  I wonder if I can do it? I guess my approach so far has not been to slow down, but rather to force myself to stop for longer periods in order to make up for the mad pace that I keep the rest of the time.  Turns out I dislike stopping completely and I feel bad, so why do that?  I also dislike having too much happening, so I could try not tackling 5000 things at once and maybe just pick one to three per day for a while.

Today, I need to do tax things.  I need to tattoo Jackie.  I need to talk with Earthfire and pick a date.  Those three things are good enough.  The rest can wait til tomorrow.  Maybe I will start making this kind of list of three things each day to try and keep me in line. 

What will life be like if I allow myself to just do three things each day, and no additional "obligations"?  Wake up, enjoy the morning, go to work, tackle two things there, then go to Kosho class.  That sounds nice.  Or, work on a painting, do a tattoo, then finish a book?  Also awesome.  Finish taxes,  follow up with a gallery show, take a yoga class?  It feels easy when taken in these small chunks, with enough space to breathe and actually enjoy the activities instead of struggling against each one as it butts into the next project.  Such a nicer pace than trying to do it all as fast as possible, which never works out for me anyway.  I always feel behind when I approach life that way, which is silly because I get so much done.

Three things.  For now, just aim for three each day.  Ahhh.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No More Struggle

It's the time of year we make resolutions for.  How will we spend the next 365 days?  Will we stop doing something?  Will we start doing something?  This year, I am going to just start accepting who I already am and not bother with trying to be different.  Judging myself as unworthy or unfit is a waste of energy, and I don't want to start off by telling myself I need to do something new to change who I am.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday about this tendency we have as humans to listen to our mind chatter as if it is true all the time.  We constantly seek for something new to do or be that will "fix" whatever we think is broken about us.  Usually it starts because we feel bad about something, or just in general.  Immediately our minds chime in with all sorts of solutions to the problem.  Feeling sad?  Quit your job!  Feeling angry?  Start a new relationship, this person never really got you anyway.  Feeling depressed?  It's the world being full of jerks, and it must be time to start a campaign to feed starving children in Africa - that will set it all right!  We are coming to realize that our minds are full of ideas and problems and solutions, because that's what they do.  But their ideas don't have to be taken so seriously, and often have nothing to do with what is really going on.

Sometimes, we are just sad.  We don't need five stories about why we are sad, who made us that way, how to take revenge and find a whole new way of being that is never sad at all.  We just need to feel sad, and then it will pass.  But it will never pass when we start to take action on our stories about sadness.  It just perpetuates.  We get caught in a loop of drama and create more of it as we try to escape the feeling.  We pretend we are above it all now, but actually we are just standing in the center of a whirlwind of feelings and drama, keeping it all in motion and at arms length.  Eventually it all catches up to us and then we are even more sad.  Someday we have to stop or we end up creating even bigger stories to mask the failure of our original stories.  The worst part, I think, is that everyone around us is so familiar with this routine that they support us in our craziness and tell us they agree with our stories, too.  Personally, I'd like the madness to stop.

Nobody is out to get me.  People aren't going to laugh at me if I make mistakes.  Money isn't hard to come by.  I don't have to earn every smile, dollar, laugh and smidgen of happiness that comes my way.  I am tired of life lessons, tired of earning, tired of struggling so hard to barely go anywhere.  I think I have really been valuing my struggles up until now.  They have made me feel powerful, like I was overcoming such adversity it must mean I am powerful and strong, even though I felt weary and exhausted and frustrated and sad.  You know what?  Fuck struggle.  I don't want anymore.  If there is a resolution to be made this year, it is to let go of valuing struggle and start valuing joy and ease. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year Wish

May the new year be peaceful, flow with ease, and be filled with friends, love, joy and prosperity.  I'd like to leave all of the worry, stress, repressed emotions and unconscious bad attitudes behind from here on out.  No more baggage for me!  When I get caught up in it, please remind me that it can be as easy as just resetting my attitude and remembering that today is a new day, and ever will be.  The past can remain the past, and the future is not meant to be worried about.  Better to be here, now, and enjoy every second of it.

Happy New Year, everyone!