Recently, I listened intently as someone I know cataloged the many reasons she was unhappy with her life. They ranged from her appearance to her financial situation, from her relationship status (divorced) to her age-related memory loss. She had just told me about a dream she had in which she had lost control of the classroom in which she had been teaching and the kiddos were running around, climbing on desks and chairs, not listening to her; in general, carrying on. Someone unidentified had come in to take over. A recently retired career educator with more than 30 years under her belt, this person felt as if her life was as chaotic as the setting in which the dream had taken place. I asked her to tell me what it meant to her and she reflected that she felt inept and like she needed “someone to rescue me since I couldn’t do it myself.” It was embarrassing to her that she had to bring in reinforcements. I reminded her that sometimes we all need help and that when in the midst of life overload, it isn’t uncommon to have work related anxiety dreams.
I used to dream of the restaurant where I worked while in grad school back in the 80’s. I was the only one covering the entire place. I had to take the orders, place them in the kitchen, deliver them to tables, clear and bus all the settings and reset them. All providing service with a smile. They reflected my beliefs about myself and the expectations for what I was to do.
In the same way, all of these ‘dream children’ were her overwhelming thoughts about her life and her inability to corral them, lest they run amok and wreak havoc. I asked her if, in the course of her teaching career, she had ever had an aide. She said that when the class size was larger and the needs were more acute, she did indeed have an assistant. I then inquired what qualities such a person should have. She smiled as she responded that she should be kind and caring, firm, but not too tough and that she should love the children and want them to succeed. I volleyed back that perhaps her mind was RE-minding her that an aide like that one was present for her to keep her chattering monkey mind from taking over. There is no shame in asking for and accepting help. She has been accustomed to believing that she should be able to do everything herself since she didn’t feel she could count on anyone else doing it for her.
She then said she was tired of the “same old sh*t.” I asked her to consider that the initials were SOS; a cry for help. What if what we consider repetitive experiences as just that…a call to the Universe for guidance and support since we were never meant to everything on our own? No man or woman is an island.
I think about my own SOS beliefs that revolve around money and relationships, health and career. I need to decide at any given moment whether I want to go down with the ship or see it as a Source of Support. I choose the latter more often than not. In the past week or so, I have been immersed in listening to the teachings of Abraham-Hicks. Esther Hicks is the being through which an energetic presence or Source Energy called Abraham (not the biblical patriarch) speaks. I had initially heard of them when the movie The Secret came out in 2006. Their work highlights the Law of Attraction which focuses on the idea that like attracts like. John Demartini’s statement, “What you think about and thank about, you bring about”, reflects the concept. I can lose myself in fear and worry or find myself in love and assurance all (despite appearances at times) is well.
A brilliant young woman said something recently that blew me out of the water as she was describing a relationship that ended. “I thought we’d be on the same page. We weren’t even in the same book or genre.” I smiled wistfully when she uttered those words since I have been there more times than I can count.
When a relationship begins, the parties involved see something in each other that resonates. It could be a smile, a world view, how they interact with people or animals, the ways they face challenges. There is a feeling of wanting to get to know each other in deeper and more profound ways. The book opens with fresh, crisp pages waiting to be turned and explored. Sometimes the paper sticks together and you need to patiently separate them so they don’t tear. There are moments when you pause and re-read what is on them so you glean their meaning clearly. Confusion may ensue as the words make no sense or are repetitive. Shouting capital letters may make you cringe and want to slam the book shut and walk away in frustration or anger. That may be when you need to put a bookmark between the pages and set it down for a bit.
Sometimes what comes through remains a mystery and you put the thought aside as you continue to the next page, not wanting to perseverate. Each chapter holds the possibility of greater adventure. Some of the language is flowing and eloquent, while other parts of the book seem stilted and awkward, repetitive and boring and you may wonder why you opened it in the first place and you are tempted to put it back on the shelf. That may be when you realize that it fell into your waiting hands for a reason. Maybe it was to teach you lessons that you might not otherwise have learned. Perhaps it reminds you of who you are and what you want out of life. It could be because you were craving change.
And what about the genre? If you are accustomed to non-fiction, you figure it might do you some good to dive into a novel or action-adventure. If you are a hard-core realist, then maybe a bodice-ripper romance or sci-fi fantasy might be just what the doctor ordered for you. Soon you may find yourself telling everyone in your life about this marvelous life changing book you are reading. They are thrilled for you that you have found it and they delight in seeing you light up as a result. Some may respond that they too want a book like that to learn from, grow through and treasure. Some may harbor jealousy that you found that book and they haven’t or perhaps had it at one time and lost it. You smile at the first response and feel unsettled at the second. Why can’t everyone just be happy for you?
Sometimes you have the desire to turn to the last page of the book to see how the story ends. You are tempted to peek, but every time you think about it, a sense of trepidation overcomes you and you wonder if it will change the outcome should you feel brave enough to look. You settle down and become content that the story will unfold as it does.
The sweetest books are those that have been so well loved that they are dog-eared and the pages folded back. The cover may be shredded a bit and the story so familiar that you could recite it in your sleep. Those are the books to be treasured. You may have the same tome for a loving lifetime or might enjoy several throughout the years. Each one is a journal that spells out the choices you have made; desire intermingling with despair, wonder with worry, bliss with boredom. At the end of the story, no matter what the outcome, you will indeed have absorbed knowledge, with the reminder that love is never wasted.
Wishing you an entire library of masterpieces from which you can choose. That’s the story of love~
As I am writing this missive, it is Valentines’ Day. It is one of the few holidays that is both loved and hated, depending on which end of the relationship spectrum you may find yourself. For some, Love is a Many Splendored Thing and the theme song for others is Love Stinks. Although I have never subscribed to the second state, I know those who avoid it like the plague, since they are convinced that there is no one out there for them that can help bring them to the first. At the moment, I am in an unusual paradigm. As someone who has not been in a committed relationship for more than 18 years, (longer than I was married), with some lovely short-term encounters and FWBs (Friends With Benefits) sprinkled in between, I have, at times, dreaded a holiday that was adopted to celebrate couples. As soon as Christmas and Hanukkah decorations are whisked from store shelves, up come heart embellished greeting cards with mushy sentiments (don’t get me wrong, I am a marshmallow …chocolate covered, when it comes to romance and for half a dozen years I penned some of them as a greeting card text writer for Kathy Davis Studios), scripted on them, heart-shaped boxes of candy and other tokens of affection. At the moment I am garbed in a long white t-shirt embellished with vibrant red hearts and splashed with silver paint. Combined with well loved pink flannel pj bottoms with more hearts from the Life Is Good store, I am quite a sight.
In the interceding years, since being widowed in 1998, I have wondered if there would come a time when I would present a Beloved with one of the cards I wrote with the idea that perhaps it was written for that person all those years ago in anticipation. At the moment, they are stashed in a box awaiting the arrival of that One. Amazingly calm about it without that sinking feeling that I will be a solo act forever. In my circles of friends, there are those who are happily entwined and those who are blissfully single. I have floated back and forth between desiring each state. There are certainly pros and cons to both.
Over the weekend, I was blessed to have guests stay over. Connecting originally by a mutual friend via Facebook, we met face to face for the first time on Friday night when they traveled from their home in Canada en route to Mexico on a few month trek throughout the U.S. Ayrlie and Patrick have been together for 12 years and are partners in both business and life. I enjoyed witnessing their interactions and the commitment they share. They seem to be easy going traveling companions; they would have to be in order to take on such an extended journey with unpredictable twists and turns along the way. Truly, no different than day to day relating. Having them here gave me an opportunity to express, “I’ll have what they’re having.” (a nod to the iconic scene in When Harry Met Sally).
In a conversation with Ayrlie, we mused about the importance of being independent while also being intertwined. I have found that challenging both in my marriage and in relationships since then. I am a consummate caregiver who is compelled to be the emotional strength in all my relationships without a strong willingness to be in receptivity mode. These two were persistent in giving and in wanting me to receive. They cooked for me (yummy and oh so healthy vegetarian meals), Ayrlie gave me a few soothing pain relieving patches since I was nursing a neck injury that I encountered a few weeks ago, and loaned me an ultrasonic massager to ease away the ouchies. Seems that they travel with all manner of healing tools and nutritional pharmacopeia, preparing for nearly any eventuality. They were eager participants in a FREE Hugs Stroll in Doylestown, PA, on Saturday as well as Valentines’ Day Hugs and Love workshop on Sunday. It was the 3rd anniversary of the founding of Hugmobsters Armed With Love that we were celebrating.
The experience of hugging friends and ‘strangers’ who become family of choice did my heart good.
Today, I will engage in loving full out, as I offer it to the one in the mirror and then scatter it to those I encounter in the next 24 hours.
What is that is heart and soul satisfying for you?
I have been nursing cervical spine pain for the past month. It began back in December when I experienced a bronchial infection which led to coughing, which caused rib injury that sent me to the ER on New Years’ Day since the pain was so severe. As a result of lack of range of motion, I needed to crane my neck to see to cross a major intersection. Not sure if I strained it then or if it is more related to emotional dis-ease. Seems that there are components of both. The pain reminds me at times of what I had experienced at the end of 2013 as part and parcel of shingles that also impacted the left side of my head. I described it as feeling like an ice pick was plunging into my temple. This time it is below the occipital region and as I move my neck, I can hear a series of somewhat satisfying crack-crack-crack, as the vertebra slip into place. Complicating the condition is that I am on the computer much of the day and evening in my role as a journalist. The condition is sometimes referred to as ‘text neck,’ from looking down at phones and computers. I have been applying my own healing modality of Reiki, have received massage, as well as a chiropractic adjustment. Hot and cold compresses, Arnica, Icy Hot, as well as over the counter pain meds have taken the edge off. As I am writing this now, it is a manageable 4 on a 1-10 pain scale. Last night, I was beyond 10 and I have a high pain threshold. I just kept breathing and engaging in what I call God-versation, asking what I needed to do about it.
A few days ago, I visited the office of my friend Dr. Susan Burger. She is a chiropractor who also practices NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) which is a form of mind-body therapy. It incorporates muscle testing, acupressure point, memory/visualization and processing. I have known her for many years and she is familiar with some of my history so I can’t sneak anything past her, which is a positive thing.
While sitting in her office, she began intuiting that some of the presenting condition was related to a physiological reaction to a long-held memory. Our bodies are repositories for stored stuff, much like dusty boxes and bags in an attic. She asked (after doing muscle testing) what happened around age 10. I had a flash of sitting at our kitchen table asking my father about buying a pair of go- go boots. For those who are of a certain age, you will recall that they were chic fashion footwear. As a child with podiatric issues, (flat footed and pigeon toed) I had to wear clunky red orthopedic shoes. Not exactly graceful attire. I coveted those boots as a way of earning my cool cred. What hadn’t occurred to me at the time was that since my dad had either been laid off from a job or his company was on strike at the time, they were not in the budget. During those occasions in his careers as either a milkman or bus driver, he always found filler jobs as a cab driver, gas station attendant or car salesman. He was determined, along with my mom, to keep our family afloat. When he said they couldn’t afford them at the time, I felt a sense of embarrassment and shame that I even asked for them. Neither of my parents implied that I was selfish, but I internalized that feeling. How could I possibly want more than they already gave? Add to that mindset that I was diagnosed with asthma at age four after the death of my beloved grandmother who was like a third parent and I felt even more burdensome, since my mother used to take me to weekly doc appointments for allergy shots and into the bathroom to inhale steam when I couldn’t breathe at night. I did all I could throughout my life to be a ‘good girl,’ and also to earn everything given to me. Being offered something out of love is sometimes challenging all these years later. It harkens back to training myself not to want what I may be able to have. It infiltrates my relationships as I have difficulty allowing men to take care of me. It runs rampant through my financial situation as I often perceive that I will never make enough and be left wanting. I picked up on my father’s shame that he couldn’t provide those boots at that point. When he went back to work, I did eventually receive them. I also find myself being what my husband had thought of as overly grateful when someone did something for me. In Susan’s office, that little girl came through to enlighten the woman who could not understand why she still is not where she thinks she ‘should be’ professionally.
I had a dream last night that seems to be connected. I dreamed I was in this town in upstate Pennsylvania, not sure where. I was walking down a street and someone grabbed me by the back of the neck and held my head under water. I do lucid dreaming, so in the midst of it, I shook them off and said, “I am going to let God heal me in this water instead.” So, I swam around in it and found myself laughing. I climbed out (it was like a deep square concrete pond filled with cedar water like I used to swim in in South Jersey as a child) and walked back down the street sloshing water. Later in the dream, there was a man who asked if I wanted to dance. We did and it was lovely. Still testing the waters in so many areas of my life.
“What struck me in your dream was that it was an aspect of you drowning yourself. Dreams have many layers but the first one I go to is that each player in the dream is an aspect of us. It helps us to see the dichotomy we are dealing with. The good news is that you freed yourself but I would look more deeply into the part of yourself that wants to off you. And now seems to be manifesting pain in your physical body. Soul retrieval time!”
“LeeAnne is right. What part of you is “holding you down”. Why in water? Water usually represents emotion, feeling. Dig into life issues. Where has this energy of self-suppression shown up before? Dig deeper. What positive aspect of self (anger at feeling denied, passion, energy, etc) that wants to be expressed is being held back by you and shows up in shadow form? Relates to neck injury which is fear. (Think of turtle drawing its neck in, afraid to fearlessly look around and survey the landscape.-vulnerability)”
As I ponder this, I am willing to stick my neck out and explore the landscape.