As I am writing this entry, immersed in what I excel (words) my BFF Barb who came into my life when we were 14 and sitting on a bench at a swim meet in our hometown of Willingboro, NJ, is immersed in one of the things she does best that I cringe when I look them….numbers. A CPA, she is sitting at my dining room table, a cup of tea that is getting cold, with bank statements, my check book, tax info spread around her, she is creating a spread sheet of the facts and figures of my life. I would much prefer to focus on the word pictures, while she and her husband Glenn who is my accountant and financial advisor encourage me to look at the bigger financial picture.
Growing up in a blue collar middle class family, money was never overflowing the coffers, but we always had what we needed. There were never role models for financially well off women in my family and anyone who was, was married to a man with money AND they were all business men, not creative types like me. I had to invent my own relationship with money and it wasn’t always friendly. One thing I have learned is that I have always been able to cover my bills. Widowed more than 13 years ago, I have been able to support my son and keep us in the same house in which have lived since 1992 through sheer ingenuity, hard work and the ability to spin at least 10-12 plates at the same time. For those of a certain age, you will remember the guy on the Ed Sullivan Show who would do just that. Barb is shaking her head at my sometimes lax accounting system and is doing her best to find ways to set up something that will work for this sometimes ‘cosmic foo foo social worker, right brain creative type’ .
I can feel my stomach clenching a bit as we look at the numbers dancing across the page of a manual spread sheet she is creating. I breathe a sigh of relief that she has the patience and skill to assist me in managing a sometimes unmanageable aspect of my life. The truth is, if I welcome financial prosperity, I darn sure better be able to care for it, like I would a relationship with a human being. So, as my relationship with money is evolving, I become more accountable in all ways.
http://youtu.be/1RYc6k803oo Prosperity Chant by Karen Drucker
“The very fabric of existence is love.”-Jacob Nordby
As I read these syllables written by a fellow word-smith, it occurred to me that we weave new threads each moment in the company of kindred spirits at a great big quilting bee where the table is miles long with room for new folks to join the fun. I gaze back at the past 5 decades of my life in amazement at how many and varied were the folks who sat at the table with me. I come from an immediate family of 4 (my parents, Selma and Moish who are now weaving from the Other Side and my younger sister Jan), an extended family in the high double digits, since my maternal grandmother was one of thirteen children and her generation created the next and so on, and my father’s side of the family, smaller, but just as closely knit….. and now an ever growing circle of family of choice……including all of you who read the Bliss Blog. As we touch each other’s lives, we are related, not by DNA, but by heart.
At the moment, the threads have me sitting at Meineke getting my car inspected and listening to a conversation about why another customer doesn’t celebrate Valentines’ Day, since her ‘significant other’ doesn’t celebrate. She and I, another customer and the man behind the counter agreed that each day could be celebrated in honor of love. Yesterday, I embellished my work clothes with a ‘fancy shmancy’ shiny red heart necklace that I got at a dollar store and handed out What I Learned About Love posters to my co-workers….kind of the grown up version of the mini Valentine cards I loved to give and receive when I was a child. The smiles on their faces made my day. At this time in my life, my own ‘significant other’ is still somewhere else, living his life, until the day we come together, since as the Michael Buble’ song waxes…. “I just haven’t met him yet.” In previous years since being widowed, I have felt a pang whilst walking through card stores in the the atheredweeks prior to the holiday dedicated to expression of love. This year, it was just smiles; content with what is.
The tv was tuned in to Good Day Philadelphia and we were astonished at what we saw. A man was standing in a security line at an airport and the young man in front of him had left a watch in the bin when he gathered his belongings. Rather than calling out to him in order to return it, the man behind him picked it up and put it in his own bin, little considering that he was on camera. What was he thinking? Or was he? What threads wove through his life that had him take this particular conscience-less action?
I see people daily who have survived woundings; some of whom triumph and some of whom succumb. What is the difference between the two? Learned resilience perhaps, a sense of knowing that all is well. One of my co-workers, a psychiatrist, recently struck up a conversation with me about my spiritual conviction that has me rolling with whatever happens on the job. He said he wished he could believe too. What keeps me knowing that all is well? The thread that my parents wove into my tapestry of my life, witnessing them trusting that no matter what the circumstances, they would overcome the challenges with grace and love. It was their legacy to me and one that I gladly pass on to my son.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Hdx9JjzDfo Dream Weaver by Gary Wright
The truth is, the only thing that has power over us, is that which we allow and invite. Any time I am faced with ‘scary monsters’, I take the situation to inquiry, holding it up to the light and ask what I am making it mean. Rather than focusing on the worst possible outcome, I consider the best possible finale. I then conjure imagery and emotion that goes along with it. It feels like waving a magic wand and ta-da! the fog clears and the sun melts away the clouds and beams brightly through, illuminating the answer to the erstwhile frustrating dilemma. What’s right about this situation, rather than what’s wrong about it? We are pre-disposed and conditioned to be fault finding. We need to train ourselves to be solutions oriented.
I remember a metaphor about someone who is afraid of snakes waking up and seeing what looked like a coiled snake on their bedroom floor. Panic gripped them until they turned on the light and saw that it was just a pile of rope. Whew! The thing is, once we recognize the fears for what they are….we will never again be able to turn twine into a slithering serpent.
What if it really was as simple as a shift in perception to turn a ‘ scarenerio’ into a sunlit, successful scenario in which happiness was our norm?
http://youtu.be/sNqywS4TPw0 May I Suggest-sung by Red Molly
www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdPh4MpxwJo and the original by Susan Werner
Every year for Valentines’ Day, I have written a poem for friends to honor our heart to heart connection. In 2002, I penned something called What I’ve Learned About Love and it included lines that spoke of my own journey. This entry is my Valentines’ Day gift to you.
I often say that my writing ‘writes me’, and the words come through me and not from me. One that jumped out at me from the beyond was “Love with abandon without fear of being abandoned.” What would that be like, I wondered, when that line came spilling out? Full out, like a fountain, not fearing that it would run out of water, since it would be recycled back in. Sunbeams shining forth without considering if they would be able to peek out from behind cloud cover. Stars beaming their brightest, knowing that their light is reaching our sight long after their lives have been extinguised. Trees budding and blooming, shedding over and over, sensing in some way that it is their destiny to do that season after season. These forces of nature do these things without conscious thought. For we humans, it sometimes gets complicated as we second guess our intentions and actions.
As you read this, it may seem like an odd Valentines’ Day message, but in the end, it is offered as a present of enormous value, more long lasting than flowers or candy, more sparkling than gems and a testament to love in all its glory.
On Sunday, I found myself in the home of my friends Phil and Janet as we celebrated Janet’s birthday. Both are creative souls who have found ways to love beyond the wounds they have experienced throughout their lives. They are my mentors for being a thriver; which to me means being able to move past victimhood and even past survivorship in order to ‘give back’ and ‘pay it forward’. Janet is an artist and performer/mime. Although Phil is a bookeeper, he also has a right brain, colorful side and he and Janet create performance pieces that educate people about mental health, suicide prevention in particular, team building and wellness issues. Phil has also been my son Adam’s unofficial Big Brother for the past 10 years, playing a surrogate father role since I was widowed 13 years ago. Both are involved in the Mankind Project (New Warrior and Woman Within trainings). Each has a solid relationship with anger.
That’s where the story continues…….for years, it seems, they have been inviting me to have a healthy relationship with that emotion from which I have run away and hidden as if it were a slimy, icky, fire breathing, belching, destructive monster that threatened to blast me away, taking everything I love along its incendiary path of destruction. With that association, why would I want to get to know it better? They felt (and my 24 year old son agrees, since he is no stranger to that emotion:) that in order for me to be fully human and genuine, I need to see what was hiding beneath it. Janet even told me that she felt she could read my Bliss Book once I had gotten real about the feelings I had been witholding, otherwise, the bliss wouldn’t ring true for her.
So, after everyone left the gathering last night, filled with laughter, love, Chinese food and the sugar free, eclair cake with fluffy chocolate mousse icing that my budding chef son made for Janet, we got down to the biz of letting the anger fly in a safe setting. First I made a list of resentments and judgements I have been holding for years, some about myself, some about others, that really have been holding me back and things that have been said by certain people in my life, namely my son and husband that had pushed my buttons. Most people who know me, might be shocked to hear about the shadow side and the renegade, runaway riff that roils through my brain at times. The inner critic has her field day if I allow for it. They moved the furniture back and placed piles of pillows on the living room floor and added a plastic baseball bat to the mix. After setting up safety rules, they encouraged me to fluff up the pillows with the bat, while sounding out the emotions with exhalations. It took but a moment for the tears to follow. I found myself in the now moment of emotion; grief and relief mixing so I wasn’t sure where one began and the other ended. Janet and Phil held space for it all and that was such a gift, since I had long believed that although I could be a safe haven for other people’s feelings, no one could be that for me. Fiercely independent with that little girl inside who wanted to ‘do it myself’ when it came to everything from tying my shoes to getting dressed, from reading a book to climbing the monkey bars, I have rarely allowed that sense of vulnerability. So many revelations came flying out, about ways I have felt I needed to earn love and approval. After I was complete with the pillow walloping, Janet turned on some intensely rhythmic music and together we did an anger dance. Making faces, holding onto each other’s forearms, punching the air, shouting, sounding out emotion, felt so freeing. Drenched in sweat, muscles throbbing, I didn’t need to go to the gym yesterday, after that workout. I was able to get out of my intellectualizing head and into the guts of the experience, unafraid to appear out of control. Any time I wandered off into worrying about what their neighbors might think about the noise, they re-directed me, because they have done that kind of release work themselves and for other friends and no one complained. Even their four legged kids; Bananas and Dodger sat and observed this wild woman at work and didn’t run away or even bark. They were guardians at the gates of grief and release too.
When I was cooked and complete for the night, I realized that in my fearlessness, I was able to embrace love as I allowed it to embrace me. By receiving this gift that Phil and Janet offered, I was giving it back to them as well, trusting that they wouldn’t judge me and in fact, would celebrate a deepening of our relationship since I had been willing to unveil another aspect of myself in their presence.
Still processing, with intense and frightening dreams last night, about betrayal and violation, about getting out of dangerous situations and into the light of a new day.
Learning moment to moment how to love with abandon without fear of being abandoned, throwing open the metaphorical door to my heart, allowing the irrepressible energy to flow unabated, despite my trepidation, having compassion for myself in the process, since I also know that love without limits begins with self love.
http://youtu.be/eDgjK-gPG60 Love Song by Elton John