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For Carl

my new private balcony

my new private balcony

 

A new era has begun in my life, with a move from the place I moved into 2 months ago, to a place that is … well, it’s a little piece of heaven, with a fellow recovery woman.

It’s on a river. The sound of the river permeates the entire property and house. My room is on the 2nd floor, with my own private balcony. The house has several skylights, wood floors and trim throughout.

The property has several gardening areas for vegetables and flowers, grassy nooks with chairs, fruit trees, and a gazebo on the river. There is also a workshop and an art studio.

Both my roommate and I feel that this is a place that wants to be a vessel for healing. It wants to provide a safe, affordable and soul-nourishing haven for people who need it, in order to do our work, the work of the soul and spirit. The rent is super cheap, and the location is a few minutes walking to down town. We want to host healing circles and various healing modalities here.

My arrival here happened suddenly, removing me from the danger inherent in living alone. I had been isolating and not eating, in and out of various states of dissociation and paralyzation. A friend of mine asked me why i was remaining in this harmful situation. I realized I had not made it real in my mind that it was a harmful situation. I was still holding on, trying to convince myself that it wasn’t happening, that really, I was fine; I was just thinking I wasn’t. When the landlords there gave notice they were returning to the Valley, this new place emerged. After my friend asked me why I was staying, I checked out moving earlier, and was given the green light. I moved the next day.

The previous roommate here was a beautiful, bright, gay man who was the keeper of the space and property, loved gardening, home repairs and landscaping. He also lived with OCD and Bipolar Disorder. He chose to leave this world by suicide last month. As he had promised to his friends, he waited until he was happy for several months before leaving. He sorted his things and arranged for them to be dispersed, cleaned the house, made soup for the woman who is now my rooommate. Everyone knew that his leaving was imminent, and when he was all set up to facilitate his departure, he emailed my roommate, who was out of town at the time. It took him two consecutive attempts to leave.

His body was found in his room. He died a happy, loving and giving spirit; at peace in his surroundings and with his friends in this life. His passing has brought me here, and so I write this as an offering of gratitude and appreciation. I feel his presence, and that he is a kindred spirit. I regret that I did not get to know him while he was still here.

For Carl. For all your journeys, sorrows, joys, achievements, struggles, and losses. And for all the great love you gave to this world. May you be in peace in the afterlife. May your spirit soar on, always and forever free.

beside my pillow, the sound of the river surrounding.

beside my pillow, the sound of the river surrounding. words and cards by a fellow aca member. amethyst heart stone from fellow coda member, crystal from dear friend in my previous city up North. I am not alone on this journey.


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what my child needed

the other thing that has been triggered is fear.

fear of repeating any part of my previous life. how safe am i? have i learned enough not to repeat? do I trust in life and my higher power not to repeat?

presenting myself professionally brings up the fear of being misunderstood, of my authentic self being unseen, denied, ignored, shunned, shamed, isolated. having to live with a secret, the secret of me.

my therapist asked me to write on three questions:

1. What did my inner child need way back when, instead of being driven and holding up the lie of success, confidence, connectedness, stability, giftedness and well-being?

2. what is the conclusion about myself that I am acting out when I freeze in social situations?

3. Where in my life have I experienced support for my authentic self?

so, last night, I wrote on the first question:


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isolation: more to healthy life than diet, exercise

I’ve really been staring my life-long battle with isolation in the face lately, so articles like this are comforting, found while researching services for people with disabilities, now that I am one (I’m hinting here at the fact that I have now officially been granted status as a person with disabilities).

I’m happy about it most days, and some days of course, and as most of you already know, I feel like a fraud. For now, it feels good. I cannot possibly work anywhere near full time, and I am not capable of living on my own. The status recognizes that I am not the same as most and that I need special care in some areas; and that feels really validating. As my sponsor put it last week, noting that this is a fairly evolved way of seeing it, the Universe is sending me a cheque every month. The volunteer work that this enables me to do, and the creative person it enables me to be is the investment of the Universe.

Well, it is brief today. I’m investigating a new place to live, in a self-contained suite on a property with 50 other diverse, creative and open-minded people. It is $650 / month + utilities, so I am not even sure if it is viable for me. It’s great that I can make up to $800/month in addition to my regular assistance cheque, but how much can I rely on myself to bring in? Am I ready for any of that survival pressure? Many questions at this time. Surviving the August lull in classes and workshops one day at a time. Discovering the importance of keeping things moving by little small changes every day; my tendency to get stuck in unknowingness and indecision, and what I need to do to stay out of it. Kind of scattered; a little bit of this, a little bit of that … blessings on the day, all.

Editorial: More to healthy life than diet, exercise.


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step four: the authentic voice that called

(my post step four introduction is the context for this series of posts.)

my dorm room–another false start of balance and serenity. another false ending to the chaos. january 2011.

(undated #1)

It does not agree with me to push myself so hard. The challenge of this term is quite extreme for me. I hit a wall of exhaustion today, and had to take the night off — from studying, from work, and basically the world. I watched TV all night. I didn’t respond to my husband texting me. I just needed to escape.

I am not motivated to learn when there is this much workload and the tests are not straight forward and the scores do not reflect my learning.

 

 

statistics, final exam formula sheet.

(undated #2)

The notion that I need to own my space and my time — I responded by feeling frustrated and unsupported.

I feel blind-sided by life — smacked in the face and rolled around in the mud, holding on to the rope of my soul, enduring.

There are times when a person needs to take responsibility for the experience they are having by changing their approach and managing themselves better, and these are the majority of times; and there are times when taking responsibility means recognizing situations and people that are unhealthy, and simply exiting from them.

(undated #3 — to my now-ex husband)

I’m drawn to you for the essence of you — the way you smile at me, your sunny demeanor. I’m drawn to and compelled by your spirituality, your compassion and caring for the world, and your capacity to produce and make things happen.

I’m afraid that if I don’t want to be around the whole pot-smoking, beer-drinking crowd, I won’t want to be around you, and our friends won’t mix.

the part to remember, give thanks for, and grieve, understand and accept its demise. i remember that feeling. i remember it all, in all of life’s glory. all of life’s glory.


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step four: the tea leaf reading

(my post step four introduction is the context for this series of posts.)

December 29, 2010 reading:

  • Art is stress reliever. more art in 6 months
  • overwhelming joy in 6 months. everything you touch = joy.
  • October: more settled. money available.
  • Inner strength in jeopardy. don’t tip the scale.
  • Strife in dorm. inner not working. conflict of belief and values.

Relevance:

JOY: Joy is my activism now, in this new life. my favourite story is a true story about a lake that was dying, and a community that decided to perform an experiment. they hired a group of monks to sit by the lake and meditate for a period of several weeks. by the end of the weeks, the algae growth in the lake had reversed, and the lake’s natural folliage and wildlife had begun to regenerate.

I see people responding to the challenges of our day by going faster, doing more. I see people burning themselves out, running themselves ragged by joining committees, writing letters, etc. and from the perspective of my life, this is the opposite of what is effective. the solution is counter-intuitive. the solution is a massive movement of slowing down. Taking the time to make food for ourselves, each other; taking the time to connect with one another, taking the time for connection, spirituality, balance, self-care and well-being.

when we feel joy, we attract more of it in our lives and create more of it in the world.

what the world needs is not more action, more busy-ness, more productivity; what the world needs is to slow down and feel more joy, deepen connections and make more time for the things that are most important in life. make food, walk places, ride bikes instead of drive cars, know each other and ourselves. know joy.

my whole life is about this. i feel and generate joy by sitting in circle with other human beings, sharing our stories, making music, making food, celebrating, dancing, listening, and helping each other to heal.

CONFLICT OF VALUES IN DORM: In the middle of all my notes on projects and actions to create change is this page:

I have never viewed myself as, or aspired to be, a leader. I’m not sure how it’s sitting with me. I’m driven to make things happen, but the authority and social role that come with doing that are a foreign concept that challenges me in many core ways. This makes me gun-shy. I am assessing / re-defining my role in making things happen, to find the one that suits my introverted personality.

I am in an ebb. I’ve had a great out-flow of energy. There is a lot of learning to digest and a big change in direction. Ebb is gathering information, synergizing, lots of internal processes — things moving, new waves in motion. I cannot rush the process. I can feel things building, and I am being inspired, but I cannot force them. The award is not congruent with this; it is adversely affecting my process. I do not like the pressure.

mom and i getting a tea leaf reading over christmas break 2010

 


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step four — july to november 2010, the nose of the ship begins to go under

my post step four introduction is the context for this series of posts.

the form of the space and how all my things went with his furniture seemed so perfect. my heart sang to have a home space with my things in it. it seemed like the final landing place for the next era of being a student on a national leadership award. we called it the Zen Palace. I could finally grieve and recover from all of the upheaval in my life because I thought it was over.

On the plane to the leadership conference I attended in November as part of the award, what was on my brain to write about was my new roommate. we’d been roommates since July, and had entered an agreement to have a “jock & ben” (from the Haven) kind of friendship, where we practice radical honesty with each other in order to work through some of our issues around connection. I had come from the previous winter in a trailer park, then a basement suite sleeping on a massage table and living out of President’s Choice reusable shopping bags, then finally a local B&B in exchange for caretaking, to this beautiful appartment, shared with my Haven friend.

From my notes during the conference of speakers and workshops and such:

Meaningful service:
  • positive contribution
  • solves a problem, fills a need
  • meaningful to you, your passion, your goals
  • spark / inspire action in others
  • far-reaching, long lasting.

Depth & Breadth — breadth is the degree that it pushes yourself, and to which you engage others.

These notes were followed by pages of brainstorming on how I could make change in my community.

Looking at these notes of busy-ness, what they make tangible is the degree to which I pushed myself. How hard I tried, and how much I was trying to do, all at the same time, as an intensely sincere, thorough, thoughtful and hard-working person.

Upon my return from the conference, and only four months after I’d moved in, my new Haven roommate became emotionally cold, and informed me he didn’t want to have a roommate in his space any more and that I had to move out. This was the point at which the boat really started to go down. The feelings of being isolated, forgotten and ashamed were so intense that I found myself sobbing at the bottom of our empty bathtub after a bath. My chest throbbed with the kind of pain that is emotional and physical all at once — the kind that radiates down my arms right out to my finger tips.

I had exhausted all my friends couches, massage tables, trailers, basements and b&b’s; and I felt I had exhausted my friends themselves. The world was a cold hard, empty bathtub; I was naked inside, and clinging desperately to a  disintigrating mask of a national leader.

I declined to attend an awards ceremony because I couldn’t stand the thought of standing alone, not having anyone there with me, being an outsider. I just said I couldn’t go.

I had begun seeing the school’s free psychologist, but even she did not see the drasticness of the actions that were required. I did not sleep or eat properly again until arriving in the hospital 6 months later. By then, my stint of homelessness had seen me on a basement mattress for December, and into the school’s mature residence in January.

a handwritten note on a recipe card I found on the windshield of my car after work one day over the summer. Though I’d been reluctant to admit it, the car had become a real beater, with rust and a faulty muffler. It was the car of my marriage that I was still driving, while negotiating the sale of our house and working as a cashier; which, in a small town where I was previously famous, was the most humiliating thing I have ever done. At the time, I endured, thinking all would be well once school began in the fall. You know it’s time to get a new car if complete and total strangers begin leaving messages like this one on your windshield.


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step four — new year’s manifesto

my post step four introduction is the context for this series of posts.

the year began with this, written on my last day in Mexico over Christmas break:

2011 new year’s manifesto:  trusting the innate
Everyone is not my friend, but there is a gift — a gem — in every person, and one from me to them. It is innate in us. There is an exchange that is possible in every meeting that takes nothing more than being. What is innate in us is not only enough, but key to our greatest personal and worldly dreams. This year, I pledge to leave space for what is innate in me to perform all necessary action. I will seek, trust and celebrate the innate in myself and others. This will be my religion, my daily meditation, my ritual. What is innate in us is not the easy way out, but the only way in.