Truth That Serves

Land of Broken Wings by h.koppdelaney from Flickr Creative Commons

Land of Broken Wings by h.koppdelaney from Flickr Creative Commons

The truth is important, of course, and the search and recognition of it has always been important to me. These days I feel the need to get on with it, really live my life, tie up loose ends and do what I can with what I have. When we pay enough attention, life doesn’t always have to amp up the warning signals that change is needed, yet too much navel gazing and waiting for perfection in answers can slow us down and keep us stuck.

The “truth” at age 20 can be very different than at age 40. Your “truth” is likely very different than mine. It’s a huge subjective area and I want to focus on one part of it today. Giving a nod to the truth that our attitudes, beliefs, words, habits, actions and perceptions can help shape our reality, I want to briefly address the notion that when bad things happen it’s somehow our own damn fault. We created our reality, as they’re fond of repeating like parrots in some circles and usually for a huge fee. How is that helpful? How is that kind? Is it a truth that serves in the moment, where someone is at, with what they have to work with?

It can be truth on some huge, metaphysical plane but as we’re here to be living and learning in a human lifetime, how does listening to the beating drum of “you created your illness; you can create something different” truly serve us?

Recently the self-help author Debbie Ford died after a long battle with cancer. She helped many people with her work, knew and worked with Deepak Chopra and knew a lot of those folks at Hay House, which is a large New Age publishing company. Louis Hay wrote a little blue pamphlet decades ago that matched particular diseases with “wrong thoughts, attitudes and emotions”. While the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our lives are connected, it isn’t that simple and formulaic.

Like many people, I’ve subscribed to e-zines and such for topics that I have a deep or passing interest in. Most of them I never open. One of them is a weekly e-mail from life coach, author and speaker Cheryl Richardson, which this week mentioned Debbie Ford in the subject line. I opened this one.

Richardson got to spend some time with Debbie Ford in the last few days of her life. This quote is taken from the newsletter:

“Death is a doorway to the next stage of our spiritual lives and when we approach this doorway together, hearts and hands aligned, it becomes a profoundly healing experience for all parties involved. I’m so grateful to have had this adventure with her.

Before I left, there was one thing, in particular, that Debbie asked me to share with people as I continue to travel and teach.

‘Please tell people that they do not cause their own illness – it’s a ridiculous notion that creates so much needless pain. All illness, including my cancer, is an invitation to love ourselves more,” she insisted. And then with her signature shadow laugh, she added, “The truth is, in the end, that’s what life is all about anyway – learning to love ourselves more’.”

There’s a truth that I’m choosing and it’ll serve me better than the misinformation circulating around in some segments of our culture.

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Enchantment

Recently I mentioned the anger and disapproval directed at Bob Parsons for shooting an elephant. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert has also had his troubles for a remark he made recently.

Last week I read “Enchantment”, the recently published book by Guy Kawasaki. It’s fascinating to me and I did really well on the quiz at the back of the book. The story of the cover was cool too.

Anyway, he states that “nobodies are the new somebody” when it comes to enchanting customers. Now we have the example of Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, who twice blew off the request of a young boy who wanted to meet her through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When she finally changed her mind, it seemed to be more about PR but the damage was done and her many of her fans are criticizing her. The family of the boy has lost interest and moved on.

Into Three Digit Posts

Yesterday I wrote my 100th post in a row. This blog is enjoyable and I’ve been showing up even when I feel listless and snotty.

After a weekend of rain, today was sunny and not too windy and it was one of those days when people noticed me and were friendly. Seriously, some days I’m invisible.

Mostly I was getting sunshine, exercise and more food. When a diet consists of mostly plants, there is a lot of shopping involved. Especially for fresh produce instead of frozen or canned.

I’m reading another new book on adrenaline exhaustion. While having several other books already and plenty of information, I find the subject fascinating. This year, I’ve kept my resolution to prepare all my meals at home instead of dining in restaurants but my break from book buying hasn’t gone so well. Looking at my credit card statement, I see I’ve spent about three hundred dollars on books this year. Perhaps that seems excessive but I’m not travelling or going out these days. With the weather getting better, I’ll intend to utilize the public library more and once again resolve to take a break from buying books until I’ve read more of the ones I have.

It just seems that so much change is happening in the world and people are writing interesting things about it. The health field is changing rapidly among other areas. While I enjoy the internet, I don’t care for what it does to my attention span
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Anyway, what I really wanted to write about when I began today–and I’m feeling perkier and chattier than the last few days– is that the recommendation for my diet is to eat every three hours. I love food and that’s great for me. Of course, they aren’t all meals–some are snacks–but still.

What Writing Education?

There are always blogs to be found on writing here and once again I’ve just been reading some and am reminded that I’ve never been taught to write. That I recall. I was taught spelling in school, about nouns and verbs and such–punctuation but I don’t recall ever being taught to write. Which is odd because I like to write and I want to and I guess I’ll need to teach myself. Which I’m willing to do.
I grew up in a small mid-western town of about 750. There were 43 of us in my high school graduating class and it was a very poor school. Half of the young women were pregnant or had children, the Viet Nam war was still going and only a handful of us would go on to college or leave the area. A surprising number of us are deceased. If anyone wanted to be a writer, they were keeping it a big, big secret. Good idea.
My family lived way out in the country. I spent an unusual amount of time being isolated there. My mother had an eighth grade education and English was her second language. Often in school, I would be reprimanded by teachers or ridiculed by the other kids for pronouncing words incorrectly or just talking weird. Everyone had a kind of hillbilly accent which I wouldn’t learn until I left the area.
I read a lot of books, as many as I could get my hands on. There were very few books in our home and I made good use of the library. I recall a big deal about being allowed to check out Michener’s Hawaii because of a sex scene in it.
Having remarkably few conversations, my thinking voice and also some verbal exchanges became a mixture of the language in books, my mother’s style of speaking and what I picked up around me.
When I was working in the blue collar jobs I had, it didn’t go over well when I used big words. But often they were the only words that would come to mind when I was trying to express myself. Wanting to please, I would often attempt to tailor my speech and expression to whomever I was speaking to.
But it was often awkward and expressing myself still is. There’s often a feeling of not being clear or understood. And I don’t care as much but I am intending to learn some basic writing skills because I know things that I don’t have words for.
It’s almost a duty that people share what they know because we all need to teach and inspire each other.
More and more I realize how important it is for everyone to take responsibility for their own education. I made better than average grades because I wanted to be a good girl and I was a good memorizer. (What ever happened to that?) I didn’t really understand much though.

Reading Cookbooks; Books and Food

Long before there were foodie blogs with gorgeous photos, there were cookbooks with gorgeous photos. Most of the recipes, I’d never make. Taking a heavy, hardback cookbook and looking at the photos and reading some of the information has always been a pleasurable activity for me. One of my favorites is A Spoonful of Ginger by Nina Simonds–Asian cooking–and while it’s healthy and delicious looking, it’s beyond my skill and patience level.

Another is Lemongrass and Lime, which is about New Vietnamese cooking. Now that my interest and skill is upleveled, I may actually experiment with some of the recipes this year. About fifteen years ago, I worked with some Vietnamese women (off the boat) and had several occasions to eat meals they prepared. They were delicious but the aroma of the food was strange to me. I’ve yet to eat in a Vietnamese restaurant and am unaware of how that experience would be regarding aroma.

Once I bravely roasted a duck for my version of celebrating Chinese New Year (on a whim) and eventually found myself with at least three inches of melted fat in the roasting pan. The pan was so heavy that I had to get a neighbor to lift it out of the oven for me. I’ve blocked out whatever I went through to get it cleaned up–I remember the duck was greasy too–and I remember vowing that I’d never do it again. Actually, it took quite a bit to get me to try the experiment because I had a pet duck as a child. His name was Duckess. (a child, remember).

With heavy metal poisoning, my kidneys could be destroyed were I to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle but that’s another blog post.

In novels, I love reading about food. The description of the “white meal” in Charles Finch’s latest novel is magical. The sandwiches that the character Spenser makes in Robert B. Parker’s novels are inspiring and I’d often have to stop reading and get snacks.

Kinsey Milhone, Sue Grafton’s character eats weird snacks that are actually delicious and easy to make and I’d have fun with that when reading her series. They seem to have involved peanut butter, cream cheese, green onions and pickles–not all together, but simple ingredients like that.

Right now I’m reading The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg. There was a mention of eating crackers with cheese, horseradish mustard and red onion. That sounds like something I’d love to try and will get the stuff next time I go grocery shopping. Which may wait until tomorrow. It’s very sunny now which is making the little basil seedlings on the windowsill happy but it’s only 25 degrees. When I got up it was 14, which is a good reason to procrastinate if one can.

Sunday Odds and Ends

It’s a quiet day for enjoying details. At home. I brewed some Earl Grey tea and while I was researching online I opened YouTube and listened to Thelonious Monk–still listening.

Lately I’ve been cold, which is unusual for me. A little while ago I took another shower just to warm up and the water temperature stayed even the whole time. Often I have to use up a lot of my patience with the drastic water temp changes–just like the repeatedly lost internet connection I deal with all the time. That took years and years to learn to stay calm like this.

So far, so good with the liver/kidney cleanse stuff I’m taking and a side effect is I seem to be losing belly fat. Nice.

Yesterday I was looking up some of my favorite authors online to get a list of books to look for at the library. Sue Grafton’s next book will be out in December but she mentioned several writers she liked so I will see if I like them too. It’s great that writers share and aren’t competitive but I’m more cautious than I used to be about hype and such.

A few days ago I finished Robert B Parker’s Split Image, which I got from the library. Looking at his site, I was sad to hear that he’d died unexpectedly about a year ago. He was only 77 which used to seem ancient but now not so much. Then I felt worse when I read some comments on Amazon about his latest books. Maybe he wasn’t at the top of his game. So what. Over the years, he’s given me hours of reading pleasure and when I was ill, his writing made sense to me whereas other things were confusing.

When it comes to my own creativity, I am feeling much safer working with my fabric art than with drawing and writing. It isn’t even about ever making money–I’d like to think I could bring joy and pleasure with my creativity just as some writers, artists and musicians have done for me.

I ordered sets 16 and 17 of Midsomer Murders which is great except one of my resolutions was to quit shopping for entertainment for awhile. Guilt has not set in and I’m feeling like I don’t care—I’m pleased actually.

The weather might be a lot better than the drizzle that’s happening today and I want to get more veggies to expand my personal recipe collection. I’m thinking kale–on pizza, with garlic.

Product Placement in Novels

It doesn’t happen much in the novels I read but I notice it and wonder when I run across it. Right now I’m reading Patricia Cornwell’s Port Mortuary. The story has drawn me in but I don’t remember the regular cast of characters as it’s been quite awhile since I’ve read her. Her earlier books were enjoyable and then some later books, not so much. This one has a lot of description about helicopters, military and government agencies, technology and mechanical things that I skim over. Anyway, she mentions fragrant Neutrogena oil, which the main character uses after a shower after doing an autopsy on a charred corpse.

The other book I’ve recently read is Robert B. Parker’s Split Image. His books are enjoyable when I have information overload and they are so spare and to the point that they’re refreshing. This is a Jesse Stone novel–my favorites are the Spenser ones. In addition to the detective part, I like the relationship Spenser has with his shrink girlfriend and the descriptions of the meals and sandwiches he fixes. In one book, I recall that P. F Chang’s was mentioned as a place they like to dine.

Earlier books Parker has written introduced me to my favorite beer, Rolling Rock. No one I knew drank it and I would have never tried it except for the way it was written about in the novels. It’s a pale ale and I like it better than the Miller Lite I used to go for. They serve it in some of the places around here but it’s more difficult to find in bottles in the more casual places.

This year I’ve given up dining out and also drinking alcohol. But not for life, I’m sure. There is a gluten free beer called Redbridge that I’ve tried but it’s a lager and has a stronger taste that I don’t care for. It also has yeast and other stuff that I need to avoid, so when I do choose a beer again, I’ll just go for the Rolling Rock. One will do it for me.

We like to think we’re too sophisticated to be influenced by product placement, I guess. But I’m thankful I didn’t miss out on Rolling Rock in this life. I used to squeeze a little lime in it.

Happy Valentines Day

Without pushing myself, I’ve greatly improved my cooking skills. It’s been an organic process and I’m finding it enjoyable. The results are good health-wise as I continue to adjust my diet. Now I have the experience of how it can be.

The art and writing goals are different. Even though–they’ve been life-long interests, I have to push and there are more doubts and fears. I wonder if it’s all a waste of time and energy.

The experts and coaches would say to practice, practice, practice. Most of them do not have serious health problems. When I read the creativity tips from others, I have to be careful not to feel shame and other worse feelings because of my condition.

I recently finished reading the War Of Art by Steven Pressfield. There are some very helpful ideas in the book, but he has been blessed with good health and is rather harsh about equating poor health with resistance and laziness. I give myself credit for not wishing anything disruptive to his health and choose to take what is helpful to me from the book and leave the rest.

People often take things for granted and and seem to assume that what comes natural and easy to them–well, it should be the same for everyone.

It’s still early days at the blog here. I sense that I’m on the right path even though I don’t have evidence to prove it yet.

Observation and Fatigue

My acrylic painting has just been stored and I’m not going to show it to anyone until I do much better. It’s scary starting with art again after plus thirty years. This week I’m trying to schedule an hour daily to focus on it, even if it means just showing up.

This morning I hid the painting after calling it finished, stored my paints, etc. in an easy-to-get-to place but off my computer desk and recognized that I might best learn to draw again in some sort of structured way. I got down my 1985 copy of Bert Dodson’s “Keys To Drawing”.

When I lived in Boulder County Colorado, I liked to go up to Nederland and spend the day. I liked the altitude and being by the big reservoir. Having spent the first 17 years of my life with the Mississippi River nearby, it felt unnatural to be so far from big water in Colorado.

Once when I was wandering back to town and near the shelter area I saw a small group of people drawing. It was a class and usually I’m very shy and reserved but not this time. After chatting with the art teacher a bit, she told me that she was self-taught and had learned from Dodson’s book. So I bought one and put it on my shelf where it sat and was moved to three different apartments in two states.

As scary as it is, I don’t learn when I don’t even try–hence the scheduled hour daily now. (Honestly I couldn’t think of another word besides hence).

I began looking through the book after clearing up the disappointing painting project and was drawn to a little section about observation and fatigue. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know I’m interested in rejuvenating from burn-out and fatigue.

Drawing is more about observing the object being drawn than the medium on which it’s drawn. Dodson says fatigue is inevitable and often comes on before we realize it. One sign is a sudden awareness of time. Another sign is awareness of distractions. He says at these times it’s best to stop. Wow. I have never seen this information before and it easily translates into a tool for the rest of my life.

Now many times, I have to slog my way through something just like we all do. It is useful to be conscious of the increase in tiredness though so I can make the good choices that are available to me. With drawing, as I walk the fine line of overcoming my fears and also taking care of my health this is a micro-detail that will serve me well.

This sudden lack of focus and anxiety about time also happens when I’m reading or on the computer. He didn’t mention hunger, but sometimes I feel suddenly very hungry. Dodson recommends when drawing, to select areas of interest in the subject and concentrate on them first to bunch up both energies and time. The rest of the drawing can then be treated with simplicity. Kind of like being wise in prioritizing my activities.

Oh Really?

One of the most important things for me to remember as I navigate my life is not to compare myself with others.

I just read an an online piece about a survey that showed how Facebook made the grass seem greener in other people’s lives. All the photos of fabulous times friends are having and their numerous successes can make one feel like a loser. I know it does me and anything I might have to post on Facebook seems lame. So I don’t. It’s understandable that people would want to present themselves in the best light possible and most of us don’t really want to share our dark nights of the soul in our blogs. But it’s easy to forget that our glamorous, confident friends have doubts and awkward moments.

In this age of rampant self-promotion, how can we be sure what’s presented is true? I remember in the 80’s when I worked at a job with mostly men. In that workplace during that time, they were allowed to say almost anything no matter how uncomfortable it made me. I tuned them out but was aware that there was a lot of sexual bragging going on, which I didn’t believe to be true at all. Then in other circles I was in, people would share the glorious tales of their spiritual experiences, which made my subtle moments of divine connection seem pale in comparison.

Two of the stars of the mind/body and new age community have admitted to their burn out and exhaustion while they were accomplishing amazing things in the public eye. Joan Borysenko, a stress expert has written about her own burn-out in her latest book, Fried. It’s very informative about the stages and signs that are about so much more than just depression. Debbie Ford of “Shadow” fame has had to choose priorities after her serious bout with pneumonia and shares that she was exhausted most of the years she was out there as a leading voice. She’s now had to disconnect from many of the obligations and often accessible communications with everyone she was available to before.

I’ve learned the hard way that it calls for sense and awareness of reality when determining just what I can reasonably do and whether or not it’s worth the cost. Sure, I have goals but at age 56 I very much want to enjoy my remaining years, not hyperventilate myself to the same success it looks like other people are achieving. And when I tune in to someone, I want to pay attention to their authentic self, not an image they’re promoting. It’s so refreshing to have someone connect with me for just a moment or so—and they’re not selling some thing or some agenda.

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