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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When the Crazy Comes Out

Spring Flowers by El Frito from  Flickr Creative Commons

Spring Flowers by El Frito from Flickr Creative Commons


I haven’t noticed any spring flowers in my area but they’re surely on the way. The sun has been shining more, the ice is gone from the sidewalks for the time being and sometimes it isn’t always windy. Windy is annoying and can lower my mood.

I can be puttering or rushing along and let something effect me and when I can see what’s happening I usually work at regaining some equanimity rather than going into a downward spiral. Lately I’ve noticed a fair amount of people flipping out of character, both in my personal life and with those I connect with online. The news headlines are full of stories of people who crossed over a line of going out of character to a seeming point of no return and now they must face consequences.

Loyalty is a value I hold dear, not abandoning people I care about on the basis of a downward turn in circumstances or the fact that they are no longer able to offer something they once did.

But when the crazy comes out I don’t want to invest too much time in understanding it. Tantrums, venomous spewing that seems to have no relation to whatever is going on in objective reality, vague overreactions, especially with online interactions–I just want to step away. Some people are consistently displaying attitudes but I’m writing about those who seem to lose it in a way that seems to come from out of nowhere.

When people show me by their actions who they are, I’m going to take more note of it. In the meantime I’m avoiding the wind where possible and am on alert for the first spring flower I see outdoors.

A Taste of What Can Make the Soul Sing

Edgar Allen Poe's room; attribution to Futurilla; Flickr creative commons

Edgar Allen Poe’s room; attribution to Futurilla; Flickr creative commons

There are many reasons, known and unknown, why we choose what to pursue in life. Much of my focus has arisen from necessity and responsibility; there were limitations as to what was available to me and other people have had a tremendous influence as well.

Some things are so familiar, like water for a fish; now I’m talking about things that make one’s soul sing. For me that has been my love of old architecture. No one ever talked about architecture when I was growing up in an area where everything looked ugly to me. The first time I went to an art museum on a school trip, I loved the building as well as the Monets and other art. In school I wasn’t good at math, logic and whatever sort of things one needs to be good at to become an architect. The idea never crossed my mind for decades.

I’ve always been tuned in to a sort of hierarchy of what society considers most important; lovely buildings didn’t seem to be it. I recall the emotional impact of watching ugly housing projects implode on television and I enjoyed daydreaming about rehabilitating interiors. When I realized my love and looked into schooling, I became aware that much of building now is about boring stuff like codes and laws which ruins it all for me, even if the study were to be within my reach. I tend to think I built bridges and buildings in ancient times–that is the feeling I get.

Anyway, it was on my radar that people were fixing up houses and most of it seemed to be too much about business. It just made me feel kind of sad as I went about caring for the things in my life that made practical sense. So it was with delight that I noticed something on Pinterest about the Bronson Pinchot Project. He’s fixing up old homes in Pennsylvania and it’s being filmed for television. I honestly had never heard of him as an actor, although he’s famous, and I don’t have access to HGTV or the diy network. I very much enjoyed watching some Youtube videos and then looked through the confusing websites until I found this page where some of the episodes are available as of now.

I have different taste in decor than Mr Pinchot but if I could be an astronaut or a rock star or such, I’d likely do something similar to what he’s doing. Recently had an epiphany about all this. (I might have had it before and simply denied it.) I love to draw but I love real flowers and animals so much better than drawing them. Drawing fantasy architecture or simply utilizing classical details in drawings would be something I could really enjoy and satisfy my love. It’s given me lots to think about regarding people who need more passion in their lives but aren’t hopeful or have clarity about how to fit it in. Even a little taste could go a long way.

One of the things I enjoy about blogging here is searching through Flickr creative commons for a photo for my posts. In searching this time, I found this gem of a photo of Edgar Allen Poe’s room at the University of Virginia.

Roasting a Duck

photo by adactio from flickr creative commons

photo by adactio from flickr creative commons

On Saturday I roasted a duckling, the second time I’ve ever done that and the first time in a decade. The first duck had so much fat and was so difficult to clean up after, that I swore never again. That was back when I believed all I read about how fat is so terrible for us.

It had taken a lot to get me to the point where I could even consider roasting a duck since I’d had one for a pet as a child. My siblings and I had named him Duckess, somehow thinking he was female when he was a baby. He was the only duck we had amongst chickens and geese and he became mean when he grew up.

I love animals and believe they ought to be treated well. My physical body will not tolerate a vegetarian lifestyle and I’ve learned to walk away quickly from those judgmental people who don’t know me, don’t care to know me, don’t care what happens to me or why I choose the things I choose.

Anyway, my roast duckling didn’t look as pretty as the one in the photo here. Usually I need to eat only organic food because of high-maintenance health circumstances. In this case though I chose a $13 duckling from a regular grocery store instead of a $30 plus one from Whole Foods or the local co-op.

I tossed out the orange sauce packet and partially followed the directions on the wrapping, partially following the instructions for obtaining and saving the fat from an excellent blog post I found online. I’ll use the fat for roasting root vegetables and will be making bone broth with the carcass today.

Because I research about health online quite a lot, I’d heard of the GAPS diet. It usually seemed to be presented as a diet to help children with autism. Being a grown-up with other life long health issues, I didn’t pay it much attention.

When it finally came onto my radar a few months ago, after sincerely transitioning to an extremely healthy diet and still feeling like crap, it seemed to make some sense and when I transitioned to it cautiously, I began to heal. It will take some time since I have decades of damage. I crave the cultured vegetables, coconut kefir and other probiotic foods that are part of the diet but understand I need to use caution as the detoxing and die-off of bad bacteria can be awful. While the point is to heal, it’s also important to be able to function in life with some degree of comfort while doing so.

I didn’t have any butchers twine to tie the legs together and my motor skills were such that I couldn’t really carve the duckling in any decent manner–it was more like hacking it up. There was surprising little meat on it but I got a reasonable amount of fat and have gotten through the clean-up part of the process, except for the oven.

We are all so different and the GAPS diet is not for everyone. It would have saved me decades of suffering and missed opportunities had I understood this before, but it was certainly never suggested by the health professionals I consulted with. All the information being presented was pointing me in other directions. Much of what the health food industry was offering was better for me than the standard American diet, but it too caused me challenges and suffering in the long run.

Some people do very well on raw foods, or mostly raw foods but many of us don’t have the digestive fire to deal with a raw diet in a healthy way. Others seem to do well with a vegetarian diet. We’re all different and some of us have to do quite a bit of research and take a lot of responsibility for finding what works for us. Often without support, understanding or interest from those around us.

Other people’s life journeys involve things that aren’t so focused on health and food and they can seemingly get by without giving it much thought. I’m not one of those people.

Comforts Against Cabin Fever

Evening Warm-up; photo by owlpacino from flickr creative commons

Evening Warm-up; photo by owlpacino from flickr creative commons

January has been a good month and I’ve much to appreciate. One thing that I’m longing for now is a closer connection with nature. It’s been unusually cold for longer stretches of time, the sidewalks have been too icy for me, flu has been rampant and I didn’t have to go out so I stayed in with my well-planned stash of necessities. Even opening the windows a crack for a few minutes every few days has helped but I’m really looking forward to the first walk along the river and the first spring flower I notice.

Hydration is important in the winter as well and I believe I’ll feel better with drinking less coffee and more water this week. If it’s warm drinks that comfort, some honey and cinnamon in water is great. I’ve taken the time to make some this past weekend as well as hot chocolate made with coconut milk and good quality cocoa. Why would I think I’m too busy to stand there and stir the chocolate in for a moment? Actually that’s just an habitual, unconscious thought and something that I’ve picked up from the culture around me that considers being crazy-busy as an honorable thing.

It’s tempting to stay up late and stare at something on the flickering screen of laptop–Pinterest and hulu–but I’m being mindful of the healing benefits of being in bed by 10:00. Stretching too, especially when I’ve been sitting in the recliner for about an hour, makes a difference in how I feel.

Last week I wrote about my enjoyment of Downton Abbey. I’m also reading a book by Charles Finch called A Death in the Small Hours. I quite enjoy reading novels set in Victorian times and I’ve read all his previous work. It doesn’t seem to be as easy to sit down and focus on a book as it used to be but winter is an excellent time to coax myself into it.

I guess what I’m going for is to make the most of the opportunities I have in this season so that I’ll be ready for spring in reasonably good shape while giving myself some comfort and stimulation now instead of feeling deprived and focusing on what I can’t do.

2013

photo by RLHyde from Flickr Creative Commons

photo by RLHyde from Flickr Creative Commons

It’s a new year. I didn’t post very often in 2012 and I think I can do once a week this year. Mondays will be a good day to do so.

What inspired me to blog when I started had something to do with the Misty Look Theme photo. I loved the stone bridge over the water of the quiet stream with the autumn colors and willow trees nearby and the gentle path. It is similar to the landscape in my interior world. When I see the new earth in my mind’s eye, it isn’t pastel and bubblegum colors with cartoon unicorns, rainbows and butterflies. Instead it’s a more grounded, classic beauty.

When I logged in last week with the intention of taking up blogging today, I was informed that Misty Look had an updated theme. It was now Misty Lake and I did not like it at all. It was the photo that disappointed. If I were more tech-inclined and patient there might have been a way to use the previous bridge photo with the Misty Lake theme.

The old theme can still be used but in the future the code will be unsupported. I’m not sure what that means but it didn’t sound like anything I wanted to be surprised with so I looked for another theme, chose this one and then spent time on Flickr searching for a festive photo that I would be allowed to use.

It isn’t a big deal but I could have easily just given up. Not bothered. I’m not sure what I’ll learn or who I’ll meet because of my new re-commitment to blogging. This will likely be a more sane and calm year than last although it has it’s challenges as well. Right now the snow is steadily falling here and I’ve managed to complete the first of my blog posts of the year.

Engaging in Life

Have you ever been criticized for being an observer of life more so than a participant? That could be someone’s perception, someone who isn’t in your shoes and doesn’t understand how you got where you are and what’s going on behind the scenes.

Aren’t results better when we stop comparing where we are with where someone else is? When we look at what’s on our plate instead of taking envious glances at what’s on the plate of another? 

Today I was able to go out into the sunshine and walk to get groceries. I stopped to give my opinion at an open house for a city project. It’s easier for me to write than to speak and I stumbled over words and rambled a little in getting to my point. But I showed up, shook someone’s hand, introduced myself and gave my opinion and suggestions. When the project is completed, I’ll have given my input as best I could and if the results cause me to roll my eyes or shake my head, at least I’ll know I participated. 

When I got to the remodeled and reorganized food co-op, I was pleased to see they carry bakers ammonia. I’ve been looking for it at two of the local stores and didn’t want to order such a small item online. It doesn’t have a long shelf life but cookie season is approaching.

I need to eat gluten-free foods. The bakers ammonia gives old-fashioned cookies the crunch on the outside and I want to make springerlies. My life is complex now and there isn’t much attention for my ancestral heritage but the anise-flavored springerlie cookies are something I feel I can reach for. I have one of the rolling pins used to press the design into cookie dough. I have several recipes and the most simple one will be the one I try first. 

I’ve used gluten-free cookie mixes but not made cookies from scratch with gluten-free flour yet so it will be an experiment and takes enough planning that it will be a somewhat significant project for me to include in my life. It will also be one of just a few things I’ll do for the holidays.

I intend to be successful at it and won’t be comparing myself to what others with more do and have or with what others with less do and have.

I’m participating in life whatever someone else’s perception is.     

Singing In The Chorus

Singing is another one of those things I don’t do well. I have a whispery, rather monotone speaking voice and cannot carry a tune. But growing up, there were times I found myself in situations where I was required to sing in groups and found it quite enjoyable. As long as I didn’t project my voice too loudly and the ones surrounding me weren’t sensitive complainers, I could enjoy the energy of the chorus and the magic of live music. The value was in the experience and not in the feedback.

I’m reminded of that when I become aware of all that is being expressed in the world. Sometimes it seems a cacophony that no one is paying attention to, and of course it is often of higher quality than my singing. But it’s important in some way that I am quite unable to explain at this time. I know I’ve written of this before.

I hope all the creators and enthusiasts keep on singing in their chorus. Humanity rejoices for it, even though it may not be apparent today.

Directions

The Co-op was really busy today, just like a weekend. I walked over to get some organic produce and got the heck out of there rather than looking for replacements for the items on my list I couldn’t find. I have refined my diet so well this past year that there is no need for me to make resolutions in that area.

The past year turned out to be better than I ever expected and I did achieve some of my goals but no way in the linear steps I’d planned. One of the best improvements was my abilities with the specialized diet I need because of a health situation. Another improvement is finally coming up with a budget I can work with, something that has eluded me for decades. The organization of my living space is another long-standing challenge that has become easier this year. I can’t quite say how I got here but it feels good.

However I did it, I’m intending for the same grace to happen this year regarding organizing the information I need to run my life. Yeah, I have a fancy, expensive day-planner but I don’t really use it. I waste a lot of time looking for passwords and other things because I simply don’t take the time to write things down in a manner that I can retrieve later. That sort of information isn’t really meant for the mind to file away when we have all this high and low tech help.

The other two things on my list for decades–once again–exercise and drawing. I will begin with the information organizing first. This past year, it worked better for me to go deep into improving one thing at a time. In fact, overall, uni-tasking is more conducive for my success than multi-tasking.

I know what directions I want to go in and for me it’s enough that I’m accountable to myself.

Suddenly Lighter

Two of the most challenging things about blogging for me is my password and thinking of titles for my posts. When it comes to the actual writing, I just ramble like I talk. I don’t have to look at anyone’s blank expression or rolling eyes or smirking face here either.

After weeks of feeling like I was moving through molasses, things seemed to open up today and be a lot easier. I guess I could do some research to see if there was any planetary activity going on. Just kidding.

First of all, it has felt like Friday all day instead of Thursday. Out of nowhere I got up early and while waiting on laundry to cycle, I planned a budget for the next eight months. That is a miracle. Never have I been able to figure out a budget that I could stick to or that made any sense. You can scoff all you like that I’m not even into it for 24 hours, but the thing is that I have never found any software or templates that made any sense for my particular weird situation. (And I’m not going into that now.)

I have the Quicken starter edition. I got it less than two months ago and it doesn’t do what I was looking for. Likely when it comes time to need a new one, I’ll let it go.

After looking over free planners and software yesterday evening and this morning, not too far into the quest I found something that works for me. Nothing to download and I could customize it to my own unique needs. It’s a simple spreadsheet and didn’t take too long to fill out.

Basically what I have to work with is the money to live on for the next eight months. So I divided that up in a way that seemed beyond my abilities before. It simply doesn’t work anymore to not keep track of things but really, I have trouble with organization and it was all too overwhelming. Until this morning. So while it may be simple for you, I am feeling like an accomplished genius right now. Now my mind can rest until I need it for something else.

Other things were easier for me today too but this is major for me. Something that has seemed so complicated for decades just fell into place.

I’m sure it happens for other people too. WooHoo!

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