Wheel of Fortune

Hello my friends and followers! I’m feeling a little punchy today, so let’s see what results on this page. Hmm…what metaphors could describe my state of mind…

A bug caught in a spider’s web? Nah…
A trash bag stuffed in the back of a closet? Nah…
A resisting passenger on the Wheel of Fortune? Hmm…

When I was about 14 years old, I went to an amusement park with my folks. My dad took me on a ride like a Ferris wheel with these little pods you sat in that spun around independently.  In the center of the pod was this mechanism that controlled whether the pod stayed upright or went spinning around while the whole contraption of pods went circling around like a Ferris wheel. I thought from the ground that it all looked like so much fun. Actually living it, though, was an entirely different story.

While everyone else seemed to be able to control their pod, my father’s and mine was just out of control! After the first 10 seconds, I was scared shitless and sick to my stomach. My dad’s face was terror-stricken as he looked at me guiltily because he wasn’t able to control the thing. I screamed for the attendant to stop the ride, but I’m sure I was just one more screaming voice. It was the worse 5 minutes of my life.

I’ve been feeling like that.

What looks so good from the ground can be a totally different story once you’re on the ride. If I could just get a grip on that centering mechanism and stabilize the pod!

They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Yeah, but what if it kills us first? No more amusement rides, I guess.

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Getting Rid of “Stuff” – The Process of Letting Go

With a month to go before my big overseas move, I am finally able to focus my attention on deciding what to bring with me and what to leave behind. It is a gift of an opportunity to lighten myself (I’ve been channeling St. Francis all week), but it does bring up a lot of emotions and attachments I’m having to work through. It’s a fascinating process.

I realize this process would be different for everyone. Someone who lives out of a backpack would laugh at the absurdity of my attachments. Someone with a household of big furniture and several children in tow would probably envy me. And the person who has never known want might pity me. That in itself is fascinating…the fact that we all have such different points of view. But this is my process…

It is amazing how identified I have become with certain objects…they mean so much more than what they are, if you know what I mean. Everything I own was hard-earned. And now, I’m selling it for a fraction of cost or in many cases, giving it away. It sometimes hits me as a terrifying process. It sometimes hits me that I have totally lost my mind. And then I remember how nice it is to be mobile and free. I haven’t quite made up my mind about it all yet, though.

I’ve discovered that it is extraordinarily costly to ship things overseas. If I owned anything of high value, it might be worth it, but in most cases, most of what I would take would cost more to ship than its worth. Ironically, though, it will still cost more to replace, so every decision is a weighed one.

As it is, most of what I want to take has now been reduced to the highly practical or highly sentimental (and even this I debate on a regular basis). I was shocked to realize that an 11 lb. box shipped USPS would cost me $82 smackers (and about half the value of what was inside), shocked again to learn that airlines charge anywhere from $96 to $285 per extra bag. Baggage forwarders can offer the median $154 per bag. But you can see, it quickly adds up. I could use a shipping company, which makes it more affordable to ship greater quantities, but my problem is, I don’t really have enough to make that worth it. Besides, there are tax and duty considerations. So…minimalism is key. Right now, I’m still not entirely clear on how many bags I will have. I’m estimating no more than ten. It comes down to this: the less I take with me, the easier it is and the less it costs to get it there.

Some of my pricier (but heavy) electronics will be hard to let go of, not just because of my identification with them as an artist, but because I know I won’t be able to sell them for what they are worth nor replace them inexpensively. The thought crosses my mind that if I don’t own a digital recorder, mic, and vocal amp, am I really still a professional singer? Will I hear myself crying, “Why oh why didn’t I ship that?” down the road? My mic is light, but whether or not I take it will depend on whether or not there is room for it. Will I find a way to replace it all when I get there? Or will everything else take priority?

 

If I let go of the flatware I’ve been using since I was a child (and they just don’t make it like that anymore), will I later long for the weight of it in my hands and resent the cheap stuff that has taken its place. Yes, I realize I’m assuming the worst here. That is one of the things coming to light as I go through this. I have to keep reminding myself that it is possible something better will take its place!

Some things are just too big – my bed, for instance. Every night, I slip into that bed and thank God. I will miss it dearly. It took me 9 years to finally buy it for myself after years of sleeping on air mattresses, rock-hard foam, and even my massage table. But I simply can’t take it with me, as comfortable as it is with its yummy cream flannel sheets and super-thick cotton blanket. A comfy bed to two will be one of our first priorities now that I fully understand the value of such a treat.

I just went through my clothes yesterday. What a project! I kept having to take breaks every 10 minutes because it was so overwhelming. I’ve been reading about minimalists who own 1oo things, and I can’t even get my clothes down to 100 things. I will say, I did manage to discard about two suitcases worth. It felt really, really good. I consigned some of it, put aside some pieces for a friend, and gave the rest away.

As for the kitchen, I won’t need most of that. The only things I’m finding an attachment to here are my spices. I know I can get spices anywhere, right, but for some reason, it just seems like such a waste. I also have some really nice health supplements I hate not to take because I have no idea if I’d be able to find them in France.

Selling my car will be hard. My car is a symbol of my freedom, my ability to care for myself, and my security. Still, I’m enjoying the process of cleaning it up and preparing it. I have to remind myself it will go to someone who really needs it. It will improve his or her life and really, it’s the only thing I have that will actually give me a nice chunk of dough for the trip over because I actually own it. I wish I could say the same about my house, but as I bought it right before the market crash, I’ll be lucky to break even. That wasn’t how that was supposed to go! Regardless, I’ll be relieved to be out from under it.

That pretty much sums up this experience so far…a heady mixture of relief and grasping, opening and clenching, releasing and accepting. It’s intense.

I can’t take any furniture really – not even the Colonial Hunt chair and small table that I grew up with. The rest I don’t really care about anyway. It served a purpose, but I’m not attached.

I spent a month or more converting what I could of important papers into digital form. But I still have a filebox full of papers and notebooks I will absolutely have to take with me. I also spent a week or so transferring my entire desktop computer to my laptop. The desktop, which I had made locally and has served me flawlessy, will remain behind. (Anybody want to buy a desktop?)

I’m also taking my newly sorted clothes, shoes, some personal items, 2 stuffies to keep me company, a few kitchen items I know I’ll miss in France like my American unit measuring stuff, I’ve reduced my books to two (so sad), my Qwerty keyboard (so I can use Stuart’s computer without wanting to pull my hair out), some small electronics and software, and essential sound healing tools and power objects. That’s about it. And if I wind up with a little extra space, hmm…maybe I’ll rescue my books.

I’m curious. St. Francis, how did you do it? How did you just up and walk out naked one day and not miss that cozy sweater and warm, fuzzy socks? You were lucky not to have an American washer and dryer to mourn. I’m no St. Francis, but I’ve always wanted to know what letting it all go feels like. Bit of a mixed bag.

It’s funny, really. Compared to so many, I have had so much. I have lived so comfortably. Have I been blind? Yes. In many ways, I have because I have fallen prey to an ingrained materialistic mentality. And I’m grateful that this process has revealed just how much I have already been given to enjoy in this life. What boggles the mind is how little it has been compared to so many others who think they will never have enough. The truth of it is, I’ve always had what I needed…not much more, but never much less. Letting it go is easy when I remember that.

Learning French III: More Great Resources

As I continue my language lessons, I have discovered two fantastic Youtube resources to learning the French language. I wanted to share them with you:

The first is a series of French lessons created by Vincent of Imagiers. I find his teaching style delightful, straight-forward, and logical. It’s suitable for beginners to advanced. I’ve been working through the first 4 units, and so many questions I didn’t even know I had are being answered. He’s helping me push myself, and I really needed that in a way that worked for me.

The other channel I have fallen in love with is Comptines et Chansons. This is a site of children’s songs so beautifully done that I’m finding them delightful to my inner child without being insulting to my adult self. The songs are beautifully sung, the instrumentation is not overly absurd, and lyrics are provided. The tunes are so catchy that I find myself singing them throughout the day and even craving them. Of course, I have a natural predilection toward music and singing. A couple of my favorite tunes here include Lundi Matin, Mon Ane, and Il Pleut Il Pleut Bergere. There are tons, though, and I’m just getting started.

I hope you find these inspirational and helpful as I do.

Thinking for Two

I had a beautiful realization the other day…and for me, it’s huge. After battling with negative thought and anxiety again, through which Stuart managed to hold and comfort me despite the ridiculous distance between us, it suddenly came home to me that I’m not just thinking thoughts for myself anymore. My anxieties and fears affect Stuart, even at a distance. Heck, maybe even especially at a distance because we don’t have the ability to physically comfort and reassure one another. It became clear to me just how expensive my thinking has been.

With this jolt, I awakened to just how little effort I have made to control my thoughts. I’ve been undisciplined. I’ve been lazy. When it was just me, what did it matter, really? If I wanted to create some tortured reality, I hurt no one but myself (or so I thought). I was responsible for me and everyone else was responsible for themselves. In a way, I was in denial of my “potty mind.” I had gained awareness of it, enough to ignore it or at least not believe it so much, but not enough to really change it. I have been falling short.

But now, I’m seeing things differently. Having such a deep connection with Stuart, I can no longer indulge in negativity and fear. That isn’t to say I won’t find myself there. I am still human and still healing. I am still in the process of learning to love. But I have to commit to forging new habits and maintaining higher perspectives. It isn’t about one person being responsible for another… It is simply about being responsible period. It is about being the person I want to be…a loving one, one willing to trust, one who isn’t afraid of either giving or receiving, one who recognizes self in other.

Rumi wrote:

“Love rests on no foundation,
It is an endless ocean,
with no beginning and no end.
Imagine, a suspended ocean,
riding on a cushion of ancient secrets.
All souls have drowned in it,
and now dwell there.
One drop of that ocean is hope,
and the rest is fear.”

Naturally, it’s been easier to allow my perception to bounce from point to point of fear; there is so much of it everywhere, and we are steeped in it daily. I have mastered it over a lifetime, trained by other masters. Maybe I always thought I was “exorcising” my demons when I was really “exercising” them.

Relation Ship. Two people floating on an ocean of thought. When one’s thoughts become dark and stormy, the boat gets tossed about. It takes discipline and wisdom to navigate a course worth sailing. Finding that one drop of hope and keeping my attention single-pointedly directed there, now that takes effort. That takes grinding one’s heels in, constantly drawing the attention back from distraction.

It’s an effort I must put forth because I’m not just thinking for myself. None of us are.

 

 

Inner Voices & Choices

Last week, I made a discovery of yet another way the ego uses the spiritual teachings we learn in order to keep us in its confused little grip. Whether a limitation of the teachings I have learned or merely my misinterpretation of them, I believed that all the voices inside my head were meant to be ignored.

The Toltec have this concept of a mitote or marketplace inside of us. There are many characters in this marketplace all vying for our precious attention. This mitote feeds off our energy eliciting numerous emotional responses within, especially when we are not aware of them. The loudest voices run the show. So if we have an inner saboteur who is always whispering “You can’t do that!”, we navigate our lives assuming that is true. Our choices reflect that strongly-voiced belief. The path to personal freedom, then, is learning to hear what’s being said and not believe it.

This teaching was essential to me in becoming aware of all the programming in my head. But somewhere along the line, I started morphing this idea of “not believing” into “dismissing.” It’s a fine point. Maybe I did so much weeding of voices that weren’t mine in the past that I completely failed to hear the ones that were mine. Today, I realized that the disparate voices inside of me want only to be acknowledged, not steamrolled, as I have been prone to do. They are longing to be acknowledged and given consideration, followed by a really big hug.

During an awesome massage, a friend and bodyworker helped me to talk to each of these sides of myself that have been so confused over this move to France. For example, I have the gung-ho spiritual-warrior-woman who has wanted nothing more than this adventure her whole life. “Ooh, is that a precipice? Let’s jump!” She knows with her whole heart what a deeply healing growth experience this will be. She wants to test her mettle, face the challenge, and emerge victorious with her beloved.

I also have the responsible one. She is quite perturbed because I am “in love” and not thinking straight, in her opinion. I’m throwing away the life I…er…we have worked so hard to build. She’s loaded with a different set of metaphors claiming I am putting all my eggs in one basket and risking severe burn by walking through fire. She wants nothing more than for me to slam on the brakes. With every step forward, she is yanking me back.

In cahoots with the responsible one is the doubter. Full of “what if’s”, she just thinks I’m a total and complete nutter for trusting in any of this. She poo poos love and instead warns of catastrophe and a lifetime of regret should I proceed. She tries to convince me my feelings aren’t real, my thoughts aren’t to be trusted, and my decisions are all backwards. While the responsible one is just “concerned”, the doubter is insidiously fearful and negative.

These voices are still just voices, but maybe they each have a point…or at least a message to consider. No one voice gives a complete picture. No one voice should be running the show or allowed to drown out the other voices. In fact, I understand now that they need to be embraced as aspects of myself and integrated into a well-informed whole.

In speaking with these three aspects, I remembered two significant events when I was about 5 years old. In the first, I was looking out the window into the backyard when I saw my father with another little girl and her father. She was on my rocking horse. I asked my mother what she was doing on my horse and was told I never played with it anymore and the girl wanted it. I remember feeling miffed. It was my horse. At this same time, I remember looking for what I called my ki’ykat, which was my baby blanket. I couldn’t find it anywhere. When I asked my mother where it was, she called it a ratty old thing that I was too old for anymore. Now, I liked the sound of being grown up, but I really, really wanted that blanket! I also remember my building blocks, which I loved playing with, not being there when I wanted them. Poof!

What I didn’t understand then was that my family was in bankruptcy. There was much being sold and preparations being made to move to the opposite end of the US. So my memory of loss/moving/starting over is entangled with the complex emotions that my parents and older siblings had at the time. I was simply too young to understand all the grief in the house. My own hurt feelings somehow didn’t seem to matter. I can only imagine what it was like for my parents to have to greatly reduce such a large household for a cross-country move with 5 children. At the same time, my heart aches for the little girl who didn’t understand why things that were important to her meant so little to everyone else. She had no control over what she prized. She wasn’t “in the loop” and her true feelings were…yep…discounted.

Now, 40 years later, I am selling everything to move overseas, jumping into the great unknown. It is no wonder this little girl is revisiting and that she is somewhat anxious with all she sees happening. She was completely discounted and kept in the dark once before. So, I take her in my arms and hold her. I listen to her. And I promise her everything will be okay. This not only helps her, but it seems to help bring balance to the other three amigos I wrote about.

One other thing I realized which really surprised me was finding that the quiet voice of my heart was being completely drowned out. The warrior, the responsible one, and the doubter have been so vocal (and getting louder in their attempts to get me to listen) that I could no longer here the sweetness of my heart…the one with complete faith, the one that trusts whatever the outcome. With room for her to speak again, she swelled with the joy and love and gratitude I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever feel again!

I’m beginning to understand at a whole new depth the meaning of integration.