Monday, March 31, 2008

Gratitude Monday -- Blog Buddies


With Blog Buddies you'll never stand alone.




Whether you comment or not, I know you’ve been by and it makes me happy. It means people have taken the time to read what I write and that’s gratifying.
It’s a thrill, still, to check in and see who’s been by and what she or he’s had to say.

It’s conversation. It’s a daily visit with friends that I may never see in person. Much as I’d love to meet each of you, I know it’s unlikely to ever happen. I’m content know that the words I post touch you in some way and you care enough to say so.

It reminds me of the coffee crowd at the local cafes. You know the ones I mean. They meet each day, sometimes twice a day, to settle the affairs of the world and have a laugh.

Blog buddies are the coffee crowd of a different generation. We don’t have to leave the house to visit with our friends though it may be healthier in the long run. With the Internet we don’t have to our homes to visit the world and spend time with friends. Some days that is the best option.

Friends stop by here and I go to their corners of the blogosphere. We have a visit or a rant or laugh. It’s good and good for us and I’m grateful for the opportunity.






Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday's Child - Asking For It

Was pain ever welcome? Did I ever want to be hit?
Yes.
In all honesty I did quite literally ask for it a few times because pain made me feel alive.
Nothing else seemed to touch me and neither did anyone else for that matter. Pain and blood was my way of confirming that I was there.
I reasoned out what to do and I did it.
It’s easy to pick a fight with someone who is violent and insane. What I did was simple, brutal, and frankly, satisfying. I’d ambush my sister. I’d walk up behind her and punch her hard between the shoulder blades.
I’ll be honest. It felt good. I was causing her pain just like she’d done to me so many times.
Of course she’d return the favor. She’d hit me a few times, maybe scratch or gouge an arm for good measure.
Sure it hurt. That’s the point. Acute physical pain took my mind off the dull ache in my chest that was my constant, nagging companion. It served to remind me that when I wasn’t being hit I was being ignored.
I did this when I was eight or nine. I don’t recall how often I did it. I like to think it was only 2-3 times, but it was likely closer to a dozen.
It wasn’t right, it wasn’t good and it really didn’t help. I felt awake and alive briefly, but the dull ache always came back.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Open Spaces, Big Sky


Even in the majestic Rockies the sky is huge and the road goes on forever.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wapiti

Click Me

Our Easter drive led us to lunch in Nordegg and a drive north along the Forestry Trunk Road.
On the way out along Highway 11 we were treated to the regal sight of an elk feeding along the highway.
It ran into the bush as we got closer, but I still managed to get a few pictures. A second elk, not shown, was nearby.
Wapiti, the elk, is my animal totem in the Medicine Wheel.
Among their other attributes Wapiti indicates stamina. They may be an indication that we need to check out how we’re managing stress and that we might need to build our energy back up.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Gratitude Monday – Patient Pets and Good Memories





Our dog Pal, who the always entertaining Bag Lady wrote about in this post was as patient and long-suffering as a dog could be.
In summer I’d use him as a pillow whenever I wanted a nap in the sun. He was my pretend horse sometimes, too, and would let me ride him for a few feet anyway. And when my sister and I were very young we tried to see if he’d be a good sled dog.
If memory serves it didn’t go over all that well with him.
Pal died just before my 12th birthday. He disappeared and we didn’t know what happened. I found him the following spring. He was on his way to the creek and had taken the shortcut through the bush.
He was an old dog then and he’d served us well. I am grateful to have had such patient, kind dog. And I have to say I’m grateful that he died out in the bush going about his normal day. I like to believe he kept on running.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday’s Child - Questioning My Existence

From Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I didn’t say anything when I was young about Dawn hitting me.
“Dawn? Do that? Nah. She’s smart and popular." I’d imagine them saying.
I’d look a around my life and see that my parents ignored it. If it ever did come up it was laughed off.
"These kids never get along," I remember my dad saying once.

Dawn was very smart, no question about it. She was top of her class each year and popular, too.
I was withdrawn, my shoulders were hunched up, and I was quiet and managed average marks in school. Today that might be a signal that’s there’s something wrong. Forty years ago sibling abuse didn’t happen.

I could have done better in school but I didn’t try. It’s a small Gr.1-12 school and we had many of the same teachers. I had an irrational fear of being compared to my sister. No teacher ever said it to me, but I still thought it.
The last thing I ever wanted was to be anything like her. So I was an average student, didn’t have many friends, and I was a tomboy. But more than anything I was a virtual non-entity.
Despite being social opposites, I’d go to family reunions and she’d stay home. Some family member would greet me by her name, as happens to everyone with a sibling, and I’d correct them.

Their response?

"Oh, how is Dawn?"

So I’d say she’s okay and that would be it. Unless I asked, “How are you?” or something the conversation would end.
No “Oh, I’m sorry Leah. How are you?” or anything. No acknowledgement of my existence. Just a question about Dawn.

It wore me down. My parents ignored what was happening which made me feel like it didn’t matter. Outsiders mistook me for Dawn and then just wanted to know about her. I felt like a non-entity. I was sure I wasn’t Dawn, and I made sure I didn’t act like her, but beyond that, nothing.

Which brings me to my point: Why would anyone believe someone who doesn’t exist?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I’m It! I’m It!

Michael at Avatar Lore tagged me for a most interesting meme the other day. The object of the game is to take a book of more than 123 pages then turn to page 123 and quote the first five sentences of same.
The only quandary is what book to choose.

My husband likes to read me a bedtime story. It’s a tradition we’ve had for 18 years and currently we’re about half-way through Treasure Island. I considered quoting it except we’d just finished what is now my favorite book ever, To Kill A Mockingbird.
I read it way back in high school when the Earth was young and the continents had barely settled. I thought it was okay.
Today I think the book is magnificent. I did not want it to end.
It’s been challenged. It’s been banned. It won a Pulitzer Prize.

Here are the first five complete sentences of page 123 of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.

"She seemed seven feet high.
I felt Calpurnia’s hand dig into my shoulder. ‘What you want, Lula?’ she asked, in tones I had never heard her use. She spoke quietly, contemptuously.
‘I wants to know why you bringin’ white chillun to nigger church.’ "

I rather like being tagged for memes and I am grateful Michael thought to include me. I find them fun. Under the rules of engagement for memes I am to challenge, entice, rook, bamboozle, or otherwise induce five others to play. Why not join the fun? Consider yourself tagged.

Oh, and Happy Spring everyone.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Meeting My Muse

I finally got in contact with my Muse the other day. I know she’s imparted many things to me over the years, but I’ve never seen or spoken with her. After I read this post at Sharon Lippincott’s wonderful blog I decided it was time.

I used an hypnosis-like method of relaxation and deep exploration to find her and told myself before I went in that I would meet her. It’s similar to contacting guides and the higher self, and I’ve used it during other procedures including meeting my writing self, younger self, working self, physical self, etc.

My Muse is mute. She’s a strong empath. And she’s a gamin-faced French woman of indeterminate age. Her name is Marie–Josee and she lives in an apartment, it’s practically a garrett, with a view of the Paris streets out the window above her desk. Any time she wishes she can return her quill pen to its holder and stare outside.

It looked idyllic and rather clich├ęd until I looked closer and realized the scene out the window was a drawing. I’ve no idea what’s really out there, but I could hear the clippety-clop of horses and carriages rumbling over cobblestone streets. I had the distinct sense it was nearly two centuries ago. I also know Marie-Josee had a cell phone. What the hell. My Muse can do as she pleases.

She has soulfully deep, wide, warm, chocolate eyes. Her kind, expressive face tells me she had to close off from the world. She is too sensitive. Life two centuries ago is much easier for her, and by extension, me. The constant bombardment of energy from electricity, cell phones, radio waves, and everything else that we need to survive in the 21st century sickens her soul. The cell phone reminds me all time exists together. She does not use it.

She is telling me something. I can hear rapid French in my mind, but I’ve no idea what she’s saying. I don’t speak the language.
She smiles. She has reminded me the spoken word is an inefficient way to communicate. You can hide what you mean when you speak. No so much when you have to use body and soul to make your thoughts known.

Use all the senses in writing, she tells me. They work best when together.

We are face to face. Her hand lightly caresses my cheek and stays. Her gaze goes beyond my body into my mind and heart. Marie-Josee will neither blink nor turn away. Neither will I.

A quick smile teases her lips and then blooms. She has perfect teeth.

Outside a carriage passes and a man shouts. Random noises fill the air briefly and pass. Her gaze remains. It is the frank and open look of an eternal love; the soul who returns with you each lifetime for growth, for change, and for experience until you’ve each learned enough to stay home.

If you have anything to hide do not write.

My hand rests lightly on her cheek now. Her smile widens.

Feel what you write.

She leans in and kisses me. Her lips are warm and soft on mine and then gone. She has told me something. I do not know what it is.

**

I’ve visited her twice now. Her obvious advice about writing is good, but I haven’t sorted out what else she’s telling me. My guess is Marie–Josee wants me to forge an emotional connection to my material, especially the memoir. It’s difficult. It takes objectivity to put it down, but I see her point. If it’s not emotionally true, then there is no reason to write it and no reason for anyone to read it.

What about you? Have you visited your Muse?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Gratitude Monday – The Gift of a Day

Cymbidium “Lucky Rainbow” from Asia. Displayed at the orchid show.



What am I grateful for?
Today.
Each day is a chance to grow, change, explore, experience something new or do something routine for the security of it.
Routine may seem boring, but it offers stability, normalcy, continuance, and calmness. Follow your routine and watch as your daily labors are completed. You can cast your mind away elsewhere or devote your whole presence, your entire mind and soul to the task you are doing. Be there. Enjoy it for what it is. All we have is now. Why spend it being bored?
New is exciting, exhilarating, scary. We need that. Shaking things up helps us to grow, getting back in the routine afterward helps us take our growth and get used to it.
Have you ever tried this? Take something in your life, anything, and take it down to its bare essentials. You like the fragrance of a flower? You can be grateful for the flower and for having it, but at its simplest form you can be thankful for your sense of smell.
Does that seem odd? Certain medications knock out the olfactory sense. When you walk in to your house on a cold winter day and are greeted by the savory fragrance of a stew simmering on the stove you are being given a magnificent opportunity for gratitude. You have a roof over your head, you have good, hot food, and your olfactory sense works.
Here’s something to think about. Construct the above scene in your mind when you have a few minutes to devote to it. What else can you find to be grateful for?
**
Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone.
Erin Go Bragh!

Friday, March 14, 2008

On The Lighter Side

I'm rerunning these Prozac Palace posts with the hope that anyone who needs to read this sort of thing will find it.
The material will also form part of my memoir. Offering it out is difficult, but necessary. Responses are probably also difficult, and not required, but they are appreciated.
**
From June 2007:

Can good things come out of mental illness?

Certainly they can. It varies from person to person of course, and it depends on what you do with what life hands you.

For me, my sister’s illness led to reading. I bought my first science fiction paperback at one of her sessions and was later introduced to Mad Magazine.

If memory serves my sister’s first visits to a psychiatrists began in the spring of 1968. I went along and waited in building lobby with an aunt. I can’t recall if there was drugstore or what, but there was a rack with paperbacks. I went over to it a few times. Eventually I decided on E. E. “Doc” Smith’s Masters of the Vortex. I never did finish reading it. It was the final installment of a series that I’d never heard of and wasn’t invested in. That doesn’t matter. I loved science fiction from that moment forward.

It seems to me that Dawn saw this psychiatrist for about a year. Her problems were eventually written off as growing pains (or so I was told) and she didn’t get any further help for several years.

Back to the good point. One fine day in the winter following the sessions my mom came home with Mad Magazine. Both parents had read it and both were smiling. They thought it was hilarious. It was and I was hooked.

From that day until sometime in my 20s I faithfully bought every issue. Its satire has stuck with me. Every so often I’ll recall a movie song or TV show title they skewered and smile.

Yes, it reminds me of life with Dawn. But it’s a good memory. Without her insanity I wouldn’t have been exposed to Mad.
**
Notes on the republishing of this post.
It didn’t literally lead to reading. I was already an avid reader. It affirmed my love of the written word and books gave me somewhere to go.
My use of “One fine day” and the post title “One The Lighter Side” are made with a very deep, reverential bow to Mad Magazine.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Me, Active

Snowshoeing on a bright winter day.

I got out for a bit of exercise and fresh air the other day. Some friends were down for the weekend and we spent a lovely Sunday afternoon at Jackfish Lake west of Rocky. We enjoyed the gift of a glorious, bright, warm day and hard, crusty snow to go snowshoeing on the lake.
Alas, I couldn't go very far, but I still did it.
As you can see the snowshoes did their jobs well and we hardly sank at all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pretty Slippers

A slipper orchid at the recent orchid show.

The weather is supposed to change in the next little while. It'll be cold and snowy and the promise of spring will be hidden again.

This lovely flower is a reminder of the new life readying to appear.




Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Mixed Memoir

I’m trying my hand at a memoir. It’s not as simple as it sounds on the surface: find something interesting in your life and write about it.
That’s the basis for it. It’s up to me to make it interesting, compelling, and worth the readers’ investment of time and money. It has to go beyond feeding my ego to serving the greater good. If nothing else I must fool myself into believing that notion.

We can whine about the events of our lives. Each of us has his or her share of glory and misery. It’s not what happens to us in life; it’s what we do with it.
Our choice is simple. We can stay back and be miserable sucking the life and joy from our friends and family as they console and cajole us or mine our life experiences for growth and change. I’ve known many people who choose the former. I understand that’s where they are in their growth, and they are learning something, but I prefer to avoid these energy vampires. They are bad for me.

That said, we all need a hug now and again and some assurance that we are loved and accepted. Memoirists dredge up a great deal of refuse when they mine their lives. We need our share of hugs and reassurance, and then some.

As I write more I remember more. One life scene leads to something else and I find myself slapping my forehead and shouting, “Yes. Yes. That’s right.”
I also have to step back from some of the memories and ask if it really needs to be written. So far the more painful the memory the more it must be put down in writing. Generally if they hurt they are important. They’ll be most interesting to readers, will do me the most good to set down in print, and are the truth of my life.
What would be the point of writing a memoir if I try to organize it as though I grew up in the Happy Fuzzy Bunny Universe? It wouldn’t sell and it if did no reader would believe it.

I never wanted to write about growing up with a mentally unstable, violent sibling, but it is the truth. I wanted only to write about the good odd things like seeing a clown drawn in grease pencil on the barn wall. It’s not really there, but I remember watching the lovely being draw it, and I remember clearly seeing it as I’d walk in the barn. It is also the truth.

The only way for me is to write about the violence and the oddness together. It can be believed or not as suits a reader’s comfort level.

As one of my guides told me told me during a meditation a few months ago, “Write the truth or not at all.”

Monday, March 10, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Changing Seasons Edition

Pussy Willows at Jackfish Lake.



We've had some wonderfully warm weather lately. These warm, bright, sunny days and cold, clear nights have led to a crispy crust on the snow and that makes it easy to walk on.

I'm grateful to feel the strengthening sun on my face, the hard crust on the snow, and I'm grateful for the pussy willows giving us a sign of the spring to come.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday's Child - Hell, Forgiveness and Blame.

Here's another post from Prozac Palace. Before we get started let me remind you today is the new moon. Remember to write yourself an abundance cheque within 24 hours of the new moon in your area.

The following originally ran Monday, May 28, 2007.

I told my sister to go to Hell the other night. Smartest thing I ever did.
Why?
Because now my shoulders hang properly instead of being scrunched up and tense, and the pain in the middle of my back is all but gone. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this good physically. I know I’ve never felt this good emotionally. Spiritually I’m calm and centered. It was the right thing to do. I wish I’d done this 40 years ago.

She called Friday night to ask advice about someone who wanted money to help her move. She began the move in February and is in her new apartment, but it sounds as though she still hadn’t collected all her belongings from the old place. In the latest installment a friend told her to hire some professional movers but she didn’t follow up on it. He then told her if she gave him $500 he’d get some people together to do the moving for her. She wanted to know if she should give him money. I said it wasn’t a good idea.
She rambled on a bit about him needing tobacco the previous night and she didn’t get him any and he can’t go without it and he’s mad at her because she didn’t get him the tobacco until that day. She used this as a launching pad for her usual closed loop of complaints about doctors screwing her up, and the cleaning people hurt her cat and she didn’t even have bedbugs. (Her original story was cockroaches.)

I have had it with her complaints. She cannot or will not do anything about her situation despite getting patient advice from me and probably others as well. I listen to her whining because she needs someone to talk to and because we’re not supposed to be mean to the poor insane people who can’t help the way they are.
Not this time. I told her I didn’t want to hear her complaints.
“Don’t take that tone with me,” she said.
“I’ll take any tone with you I please.”
She said I was cold. I said, “Yes, I am. What do you expect since you beat me an average of 2-3 times a week until I was 10 years old? "
She was quiet for about a second then launched into how bad this was for her. She didn’t have her head on right in those days (This was her pre-insanity days according to the official record.) and she wasn’t getting what she needed then and she doesn’t even know who that person was. That may be the absolute truth, but she was far from finished.

Apparently she’s had therapy about this and she “has regrets.” Well, she was just getting warmed up. According to her when she was 26 I told her I was “going to get her.” It didn’t really happen. In her mind it did, but for the record I did not threaten her. She told me not to deny it because she’d been in therapy for years afterward because of it.

She went on for a while, but I’d had it. I will not put up with being blamed for her problems. I was calm, cool and collected.
"Go to hell,” I said as and calmly hung up.
The change was immediate. My shoulders fell to a natural and normal position. The pain between my shoulder blades drained away. It had showed up in the afternoon when I’d been wondering when I was going to hear from her. The full moon was coming; I knew it could be any time.
I smiled. I felt good. I should have done this 40 years ago.

She called back after abut 20 minutes and wanted to know if I was still “carrying this around.”
“Yes.”
"Well it really makes you ugly.”
So I told her I forgave her for beating me.

She’d mentioned something in the first call about having to find a new place and I wasn’t sure if that meant a third apartment or it was a reference to where she is now. When I asked about it she hung up on me. She called back about 10 minutes later with her original question and I told her not to give this fellow any money.
The conversation ended but this time I didn’t feel drained. She’d managed to turn my experience and pain into a much more traumatic event for her as her problems are my fault.
In her reality she is blameless.

This can’t be helped. It’s up to her to change if and when she wants. All I can do is not let her abuse me anymore.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Do You Believe in Abundance?

A young Bighorn Sheep roots among the rocks for food. The photo was taken just west of the lookout at Abraham Lake along Highway 11. Sheep commonly feed there.

Abundance comes to you in the manner in which you believe in it.
If you think you lack, you do.
If you believe you have plenty, you do.
Many of us look at this photo and see bare ground and rock. The sheep knows the food is there, it simply takes a little digging.

Tomorrow is the new moon. It’s at 10:14 a.m. in Edmonton and within a few minutes of that elsewhere in the province. It’s time to write another abundance cheque.

Will you do a bit of digging or walk away because it’s just a bunch of rocks?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

And A Merry Olde Soul Was She

Here's a fun quiz I stole from Michael at Avatar Lore.




You Are An Old Soul



You are an experienced soul who appreciates tradition.

Mellow and wise, you like to be with others but also to be alone.

Down to earth, you are sensible and impatient.

A creature of habit, it takes you a while to warm up to new people.


You hate injustice, and you're very protective of family and friends

A bit demanding, you expect proper behavior from others.

Extremely independent you don't mind living or being alone.

But when you find love, you tend to want marriage right away.


Souls you are most compatible with: Warrior Soul and Visionary Soul


Why not check it our for yourselves?
It's fun and pegged me rather well.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Brightening The Day


I hope this pretty orchid adds some colour to your day and makes you smile, if even for a moment.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Gratitude Monday - What Have You Done For Them?

From left the peaks are Normandy, Ardennes, Rhine, Elbe. A fifth peak is named after Stan Waters.

This mountain is one of my favourite sights out west. It rises majestically above the Kootenay Plains near the Banff Park border. Its name, Ex Coelis, is Latin for “Out of the Clouds” and that was the motto of the First Canadian Parachute Battalion from WWII.

You can read more here, but for now let me say this. Today is the provincial election. We commonly have lousy voter turnouts and then people complain about the government we get.
The men of the First Canadian Parachute Battalion jumped out of a plane so we could keep the right to vote in a multi-party democracy.

What have you done for them?