Every year on Winter Solstice I try to meditate on a word. It is the closest I come to a New Year's resolution. Last year's word was "presence" and, admittedly, I did a piss poor job with that one. Rather than beat myself up about it (anymore than I have already), I am concluding that perhaps presence just isn't for me, at least in the new agey sense that is so popular these days. It is sort of like phrase "let it go" for me. I'm more of an "own it" type person, but along with that comes a whole host of other feelings and tendencies that dog me daily.
Honestly, this year I was contemplating not even thinking about a word. So many things have changed in my life in the last 365 days, while others have remained utterly the same. I've had time for life to gel and I have my wits back about me, but I am still in a state of flux in terms of how/where I want to land on a more permanent basis. I feel like I'm still renting a life right now, actually. Is it a bit closer to who I am? Sure, but my suitcases are not fully unpacked. I've not completely nested because I can't. I'm not yet to my destination and I've invested all in the transfer station (AKA my residence and surroundings) that I'm going to invest on any substantial basis. I am simply maintaining what I have and planning the next leg of my journey.
So, as Solstice rolled around and I found myself, yet again, in some odd state of regret and fear I got to thinking about owning things, about presence, about letting go... And a lightning bolt smacked me in the head and I realized that my words and thoughts are categorized into those that are passive and those that demand (at least by my definition) action. So, presence to me, is a passive state, and for me it simply doesn't work. That isn't to say it doesn't work for others. It just doesn't reflect the way my mind operates.
Letting go doesn't work either. To me, it is a state of defeat. I know (logically) it isn't. But, in my mind it means surrender and that is not something I do well. And I know that part of "growth" is to explore and embrace what we don't do well, but again, in my mind and in my own cellular make-up my soul speaks to me to use my darkness, to sit with it, acknowledge it, speak to it and engage it. So, if I can't wrap my head around letting go, I instead wrap my head around owning stuff and then purposefully, ritualistically, putting it to rest. For a supposedly free-flowing Pisces all this has always been really bothersome to me - this need for forward movement and action. I almost feel like my birth certificate was forged.
Anyway - I digress. So, enter a particularly odd conversation I was having with myself the other day while visioning this farm I hope to find (and move to) in 2016.
I was thinking about a lot of things and I got around to discussing in my head all the fear, sorrow, guilt, social norms, expectations (self imposed or outside), the past, the perceived future, despair, sadness, hopelessness, anger, uncertainty (goes along with fear because really, isn't everything technically uncertain?), fodder (in person and on-line), pain, mindlessness, abuse, personal shortcomings and other things that go bump in the night, the word liberation popped into my head.
What an odd word to pop into that conversation. Such an active and aggressive word for a downtrodden conversation. I felt it must be important and so it became my word. I felt it SO important I was moved to name a new page after it. A word of action. A word of work, of toil, sweat, tears and freedom. Freedom from whatever it is that holds a us back from living an uncommon life full of one's own individual soul. So full we are drunk on her and unafraid of what she wants (or doesn't want). So brave that we ask her first if this or that serves her instead of automatically acquiescing because it is learned, habitual and expected.
The task is daunting. When I think about everything I've listed above I realize that there are a million things I need to leave behind in order to continue to grow. So many comforts I need to shed, so many useless things that no longer serve me. Sometimes I wonder if I walk away from them all, will there actually be anything left of me? Am I simply made up of all the things I fear, all the guilt that drives me? Am I Catholic and just don't know it? Honestly though, there is an enormous amount of it all and I fear (there is that word again) that if all the things I'm desperate to be rid of are actually gone I'll just blow away like burned paper...
So, obviously, I'm not sure where liberation will lead me. The only oppressing tyrant that looms over me is of my own making. Choices and turns in the road that stretches out behind me have become my dictator, my jailer. I have a mountain to climb and it is, for the most part, all within the constraints of my own mind. Alas, time marches on. Welcome, New Year.
...of course just look at the hype closely because all of that stuff translates to a big expensive house with a picket fence and nothing on the counters, a spotless vehicle (expensive too), children who never have stains on their clothes and have impeccable manners, pets who are the same (if they wear clothes; if not I guess they should not fart or chew up your rugs ever), a great body, a mate with a great body, yoga pants that cost half a paycheck and make your butt look fabulous, an awesome job, the ability to travel to remote and exotic locations to do yoga in those expensive yoga pants…should I go on?
Balance has become a joke. And a marketing scam. The truth is that in life there is rarely balance. To strive for it, even if you don’t fall for the hype, may just be more stress than it is worth. Honestly, maybe life shouldn’t be balanced. Life reflects our needs and our souls (hopefully) so when you have a need or things speak to your soul those things are automatically going to take priority over other things. You put your children first. That isn’t balance. But, it is important to you and it speaks to your soul. You want more than anything to paint, or to write. Then there is going to be little time for other things. That isn’t balance. But it is what you need in order to be whole.
I have felt for a long time that the whole “balance” movement is simply another way of shaming us into something that really isn’t natural (or needed) in the first place. I think that seeking balance in the manner society attempts to dictate it doesn’t necessarily make our lives more meaningful, transversely I believe it can actually make them less. This seeking minimizes what we truly want (and possibly what our own souls truly need). For years I played the balance game at the expense of my soul. I tried to fit all those things in that are supposed to matter, that I am supposed to do, consider everyone and their feelings and divvy up my time amongst 12 different priorities in order to achieve balance. And my soul eventually said “fuck this” and left for a good long while.
I’m not saying that we should all be selfish to the point of mistreating others but we have to ask ourselves if we include US as one of the others that we are considering in this juggling act of balance? And if so, just how much consideration are we giving to ourselves as compared to every other thing on the list? I think that most of us will find, if we are brutally honest, we come up short to the person that should mean the most.
But these are the things I know for sure ~
Birds are singing this morning. Spring birds. And I know there are buds high in the trees and there was frost last night. I know my horse's breath is crisp and hangs like fog in front of him as he walks to the field this morning. I know he will greet me with a nicker later today. I know I will run later. I know I can pay my bills and I know I have a job tomorrow. I know that job makes up a career that will allow me to leave here and I know that I can do that and fulfill a dream that I have had for decades (which is the dream of leaving here).
The things that I don't know, like what kind of birds make up each song, which tree will bloom first and what Takoda will do each and every minute of his day today, don't really matter in terms of getting me through the shit in my own basement. How far I run will depend on how I feel. When I leave this particular town will depend on when I make a choice to and where I want to go, where I can secure employment, and whether the place is horse friendly (I won't ever go anywhere again that isn't).
All the things that I don't know are global and if/when I really want to know them I can seek them out and find them out. I can take action and make them my own knowledge and experience. All the things that I do know are the things that make up each and every moment and the moment after that. THOSE are the things that will get me through. Those are the things I must cling to for a bit, in the basement of my soul.
As we hooked up the heater we went over instructions to refresh our memories (to be clear – you are NOT supposed to use these things inside) including DON’T FORGET TO CRACK A WINDOW. You know, so you don’t die of CO2 poisoning… Yeah, this is how we roll in WV folks…
When we were finished, I walked back down to her SUV with her. (Actually it isn’t even her SUV it is her room-mate’s because her own car is a little front-wheel drive model and she couldn’t even get the door open because the snow was too high). When we got to the “big” hill I looked down to see at least six different neighbors doing various things – trying to shovel their driveways, helping the old woman that lives about ½ way down the hill shovel her driveway, actually bringing bags of cat litter out to put on the hill, which had been plowed early in the day but was now again snow covered and icy. I had this moment of WTF?...
See, I remember stuff like this. It was how I grew up. Despite that life lesson from my parents our neighborhood residents were always helping each other out. The adults would check on each other during storms like this, help clear driveways, share food, people would stay with other families if their water froze… Did I misunderstand the lesson? Were there situations exempt from it?
After meeting a big chunk of my neighbors, who were all quite nice and helped Tara get her vehicle out and headed in the right direction, I walked back to my house to start to deal with the night to come. As I approached my own driveway (I am the last house) my “downstairs” neighbors, whom I had written off based on random observation (LOL) stopped me and tell me they will leave an extra propane tank on their back porch should I need it. They, like the couple next door to them, HAVE A GENERATOR. Smart. Wow. Thanks neighbors. Again, WTF?????
It was a long night. I couldn’t allow myself to sleep because you can’t sleep with one of those heaters on (even with the window cracked) plus I had managed to get a small fire burning with the mostly wet wood, lots of newspaper and cardboard but it had to be almost constantly babied and I couldn’t chance it going out. I would fire up the heater and leave it on till the thermostat read 60, then turn it off. Sixty was a high goal yes, but figuring that was the temp in the living room and the rest of the house would remain lower, I had to try and ensure the pipes wouldn’t freeze so I had to keep the heat flowing. I ran water and opened the doors on all of my sinks. I would nap for 20 minutes or so at a time when the heater wasn’t on, not really ever drifting fully off and setting my travel clock on an alarm in case I did. As it was, when the fire would start to crackle less, I’d jolt back to life and tend to it. The animals gathered around the fireplace with me on blankets, each trying to get as close to it as they could. At one point all three of them were laying on top of me. For the first time in their lives together the cats did not fight.
By dawn I was no longer freaked out by the heater and would actually have it on while I tended to the fire with my back to it. I had thought to myself at dusk that if we could just make it till dawn on the coldest night, we could deal with the rest. When dawn came, I really started to think about some things, including:
1. I was really not prepared to deal with this situation. Like the folks of Alexandria I have become quite soft during my years of partnership. I didn’t mean to, it just happened that I started to depend on someone else for certain things. Maybe that is how it should be but when you are alone, that isn’t how it can be… Being raised to “depend on no one” WAS a good lesson. Perhaps I misconstrued it in my brain over the years to arrive at number 2, but in and of itself there was an attempt to teach me to be prepared for the worst in life and to do some planning, take precautions and be smart about what can happen, even in the modern world. The Depend on No One rule was applicable to money, work, happiness, future, and survival readiness.
See, I think that in relationships it is very easy for us to slip into role play. Some women go into relationships that way. They actually WANT someone to take out the trash, mow the grass, do the “man things” that need done. I’m sure we all know some of them and most of us try hard to avoid them at the water cooler. I have never been that woman and have prided myself in the same. However, in any relationship the natural tendency is toward some sort of status quo of each “area of expertise” and logic so to speak. My long-term relationship was non-traditional in that my mate cooked. That is simply because it is NOT my area of expertise LOL. I, however, had trash duty. This was simply because I drive a truck and most days don’t go to work in a suit and the trash needed taken all the way down a 300 foot driveway to the roadside. But, the big stuff – like generators and making sure the furnace worked - I defaulted to the partner with more expertise. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it just IS in relationships. Despite my parent’s lessons in not depending on anyone, I certainly did and my recent situation was dire because I did not take seriously that ability being gone. One should note this is completely different than making a choice to have someone else assist or do something you either don’t have the time or expertise to do. For instance, I could certainly study how to build a porch and maybe eventually actually do that. But, I am making a choice to pay someone to build a porch because I actually want a porch this summer…
2. But, I digress – So, the second thing – the thing that I obviously arrived at in error is that we gain nothing by being stubborn and “independent” to the point of absurdity. I watch this ridiculous show sometimes – Dual Survival. Yes, it is silly and staged and ludicrous sometimes but entertaining. So, on this show, there is always this give and take and sometimes this disagreement between the hunter/gather dude and the retired armed forces dude on how to approach these dire situations. Both ways normally would work. Transversally, NOT doing anything or doing something completely rash and not thought out (either because you are ignorant and haven’t educated yourself or because you are just plain stubborn), is just plain stupid.
Look, it might not take a village but everyone needs at least a few true friends. You know, the kind those Facebook quotes talk about. As I think on the fact that it was Tara who took matters into her own hands and got me that heater, I realize even more the hole that is about to be introduced into my life with her moving across the country next week. It goes deeper than horses. Much, much deeper. There are a handful of people in our lives like that and I tend to shut myself off from most of the prospective ones. Tara got in because we had a very regimented schedule to see each other each week for riding lessons and this went on for years. Throughout that time, we talked more and more, went through the sadness of losing horses and relationships together and a friendship was formed. How a person opens up herself to others without experiencing the very real possible disappointment of those others being less than they present themselves to be is a mystery to me. But, without being open, how will those true friends emerge? This is the difficult one for me, since I have misconstrued the lesson of Depend on No One to become Trust No One, Need No One, etc. I am truly certain, for instance, that had it not been for this situation I would probably never have known any of my “neighbors” ever. I keep to myself probably for many of the wrong reasons and I’m not very good at determining the right ones because it is easier to keep to myself.
3. Just.Stop.Already. I have a wicked sense of humor and a fairly short fuse for bullshit, BUT I am not a glass is half empty kind of person. Negativity bothers me. It really bothers me. It seeps into me and brings me down. I don’t like to be down. I am like that song by Jewel. I really AM sensitive and I’d like to stay that way because if I don’t, then I feel like I’ll have no compassion for the things I DO care about.
So, after this “good chance of freezing to death” incident I was finally able to free myself from the holler and get to the barn. Our two “neggie ninnies” have this habit of sitting in the “lounge” (which is this little room off the hay barn with a concrete floor and some tables and no heat save the tiny electric foot heater I bought this fall), smoking cigs and bitching about everything under the sun, basically. I sit with them for a bit most days because I truly DO enjoy the other parts of them – one is in her 70s and has been riding since she was 4. She is hilarious with her stories of horses and has a ton of knowledge behind her. The other is a bit older than me and works in the same sort of environment as I do, not the public sector but a very similar genre. For whatever reason these two hens took a liking to me when they normally scoff and snicker at newcomers. I’d love to think it is my winning personality LOL, but who knows – maybe they were just lonely? I also sit with them (and interact and try to get along) because they ARE my riding partners. They are some of the only folks that trail ride and, well, I’m not stupid enough to be on bad terms with the people that share my passion. Yesterday though, I was really way too into the look, I’m just happy to be alive and here mode to listen to their wha-whu, wha-whu, whaaaaa-whuuuu…. I have to limit my exposure to such banter. LOL.
Make your life so that you don’t depend on anyone. I have been told this since I could walk. Or maybe it just seems that way. Regardless of when the telling began it was one of the true “great” lessons that my parents tried to instill in me. And I do appreciate it. It has made me a doer, an independent thinker, resourceful and not.a.needy.whiner. LOL.
But, everyone has to lean sometimes and this week I had a reckoning with the Gods to prove this to me. Specifically with Thor, and that bastard was not at all attractive and kind like Chris Hemsworth. Nope, he was a total asshole, blowing through here a few nights ago, dumping well over a foot of new snow that was wet, heavy and itching to wreak havoc on trees, power lines, roads. But first….first he sent the rain! All day on Wednesday it poured and flooded. I almost got my truck hung up in my driveway (not yet complete and still having some grass at the top) and settled for parking it in what used to be the garden because it is the highest spot in the yard. All this then froze and the snow came.
My power went out sometime during the night. I reported it, along with 5000 other people in various locations around the county. At first I wasn’t too concerned. Power outages are common around here with so many trees just waiting to fall and at the time of the report it listed mine as coming back on within six hours or so. I went back to sleep. Six hours became 10, 10 became 20 and 20 became two days. The temperature started to fall and it just kept snowing. And snowing….
So, I found myself in a true pickle. It was to be negative three by the following morning. I have a small fireplace but nothing able to heat a house and my wood was all frozen (my first coulda, shoulda, woulda moment clueing me into my true LACK of resourcefulness for this situation). I don’t have a generator. I (we) used to but it belonged to Sam. I could take my chances and truck myself and the dog to my office, where there WAS power, but the cats and our water pipes? I just couldn’t leave any of those things to chance. I called my dad to verify some water stuff and prepped to crawl under the house, shut of the main, drain all my lines and then try against all the odds to at least get a fire going.
All this time I was so extremely pissed at myself. Why? Because THIS.IS.NOT.ME! I’m always prepared for disaster! I’m the “hell yes I’ll make it” queen of the zombie apocalypse. Yet, since I moved in here in November and had a load of things to repair and deal with, somehow being prepped for the eventual power outage disaster did not make the list. The reasons for that? Well, I’ll get to the more complicated ones but the most simple one is that while outages are common, long term ones rarely happen. As a matter of a fact, one of my neighbors said later that he has lived out here for 9 years and the electric has been off three times and only for a few hours. Well, I guess no one will be saying that anymore!
At no point during all of this did I think about calling anyone other than my dad to verify water line facts. I’m so goddamn stubborn that I just wouldn’t even consider it. That’s the thing about being stubborn. Sometimes….well, as a friend said later – it is perfectly OK to be stubborn, but when it crosses over to stupid I draw the line.
So, in the midst of all of this I was texting with my assistant about whether to open the office, etc. (we decided no due to the State of Emergency), answering other work calls and at some point I answered a FB post from another friend about roads/power. About an hour later I got a call from my GF/riding instructor and she informed me that she had "secured a propane garage heater from another friend" and is on her way. Ahhhh, the power of social media?
Two hours later she was at my back door with a neighbor from half-way down our enormous ¼ mile hill and she says – I didn’t make it up the hill, giggling. In her hand she had the heater and in his was an extra propane tank. LOL. Turns out she made it halfway up, started to slide backwards and had to Nascar it into someone’s driveway. Apparently half the neighborhood was outside having a snow shoveling party and this guy ran up to help her.
It was at this point that I started to realize just how erroneous my mindset has been for all these years….
To be continued….
It seems unending. It isn’t suffering. Nothing that intense or glamorous (for a tragically hip Pisces) ;)…. It is more like trudging along in the snow day after day, which after all is basically what everyone I know is doing. One foot in front of the other because that’s just what you do. You don’t dare lie down and you don’t dare stop or you will be stuck, but you sure aren’t stepping to the tune of anything uplifting.
I spoke to a friend about this at length over lunch. There are many complications in a life less ordinary, especially from the standpoint of emotional support and even things as simple as another body to assist in the massive task of shoveling snow out of a 100ft. driveway. I’ve always known this to be so and have actually spent equal parts of my adult life alone as in partnership, so it isn’t anything to cry into my almond milk about.
We all have those days… I had one this week in which, in the midst of the last “snow event” I was shoveling and shoveling, wondering if I would be able to get to work since after clearing my own driveway I had to wonder if the state road division would plow and cinder the neighborhood, or the 1.5 lane road you have to take to get to the highway (named Paxliner Hill but AKA “hey this could be used as a slalom in the next Winter Games” because that same state road division never really bothers)…
So here I am – flashback to that day:
I shovel and it snows and it blows and my fingers start to hurt and I shovel some more and somewhere along the way I have this upwelling of sadness and an incredible sense of how senseless this all is.
GET.A.GRIP. I say this outloud to no one. I’m not a crier, see. I just don’t do that. It all stems from being told over and over as a kid that I was too sensitive, a baby… So, anger replaced sadness and sensitivity in my life. Anger I can work with. Crying has no place or purpose.
Yet, I have found myself crying many times in the last several months. At the side of a dying cat on Christmas Eve and for days on end afterwards. After a particularly confrontational day at work. Over something emotionally draining at the barn (there are constantly emotionally draining things at barns LOL I'll do a funny entry on that someday). And now because it is snowing? Seriously?
It makes me angry at myself. I’m stronger than this and I tell myself to stop being a fucking baby.
Oh, by the way, I certainly learned that language/reaction/way of treating myself well haven’t I?
But, instead of stopping I put my shovel down and go to sit on a huge rock formation on one side of my yard. It overlooks a small cliff, basically. Probably a 50 or so foot drop off into a lovely ravine filled with laurel and trees. And I just watch it snow and I cry. Silently, looking around me slowly and listening to things. Birds at my feeder in the background, squirrels occasionally scurrying up one of the trees, coal and limestone trucks a mile or more below on the highway, crows in the distance, a dog barking further up the trail… A redheaded woodpecker lands high up on the tree directly in front of me. I start thinking, as I often do, about what it would be like to be a bird…or a dragon or a Pegasus or basically anything that can fly. Fly away.
I’m looking at this tree and my gaze travels down. Down to the ravine below me and I realize how TALL this freaking tree is. How expansive its limbs are as they stretch upward toward the sky from that very low forest floor. This tree is HUGE and I have never noticed it before. I start to wonder where its roots go. Are some of them under me, deep below the surface as I sit on this outcropping of rocks?
Are they waking even as it snows? Is the tree already planning for its sap to crawl upwards, to nourish itself and dress its limbs in the shimmering greens of summer? Patiently waiting, knowing and yes, longing…
Is longing what keeps it going? That need to seek life, to bend but not break, to follow the sun high in the vast expanse of the universe and try to touch it....even though this is an impossible task the tree keeps trying. Even though below me its roots at some point hit rock they keep pressing on. Under, over, through, pushing forward and longing...
For some reason, all this calms me and I take a breath and think – it is only winter. It is only winter and the driveway is mostly clear. It is only winter and I can work from home for a bit if I have to (ain’t technology great?). It is only winter and it will pass.
I think it is the closest I have come to keeping my resolution of “presence” since making it at the New Year. Because even though I am indeed, hoping, praying, wanting, needing it to pass, it was sitting in the present that gave me what I needed that day.
And the deeper question. Deeper than my disdain for the season and the almost constant state of inconvenience that we have been living in for almost 10 weeks straight.
Much deeper. Are tears closer at hand because I am safe to have emotions now? It isn’t that being in partnership made me unsafe it is simply a learned behavior. You never show your pain. You don’t shed tears in front of others. Are they cleansing me? Are they playing catch up after having been swallowed for decades? Does my soul currently need them?
It is an interesting series of questions for me and I suppose I just have to let it play out. I’ll also be interested to note how/if my feelings and reactions to things change as we move into spring. I’ve never been this open to the admission of my “issues” with winter (borderlining on actual SAD and not just winter blues) before. Maybe via that admission I’m being swallowed a bit by my own emotional whims.
I know that I must find some kind of strategy for years to come. I’m not retiring to greener (and warmer) pastures anytime soon. And beyond that this winter has been a signal to me that some of my plans involving remaining in the region or moving home might be in question. But, again, it is a different story when you have your horse on your own property and truly do work from home (or are retired) than when your livelihood and love depend on actually getting somewhere other than your backyard. My dad, for instance, says he has no problems with winter because he just goes down to his basement and fiddles hours away in his workshop. LOL. Wish I could adopt the same practice but, alas, that is not my life right now.
I was greeted this morning with several interesting posts and messages from various places and they all seemed to be telling the same story. The passage above, from author Sarah Drew immediately struck me as deeply important to reread, in detail, several times.
We are all evolving, or sometimes devolving, unfortunately. The willingness to let go and experience that re-birth is indeed to our benefit, yet it is completely counterintuitive to everything we are taught, especially as women. We live in a world of unprecedented opportunity to be who we want to be, yet, we are still in large part in the habit of looking to society to explain to us exactly who that is...
Stepping into uncertainty and that edge of oneself requires us to set aside our fears and our sadness. The shedding of skin and being is painful, after all. I mean, if it were not more people would do it more often and quite possibly the individual world would eventually be a less miserable place, right?
Answer first to your own. For so many of us the question of who am I anyway will be asked again and again. I'm not sure this is bad. It simply means we continue to evolve. I think as long as the question is answered each time by our own compass we are on the correct road.
So, if you think about it, just as I was contemplating not long ago in that our choices shape our daily life, which eventually shapes our overall patterns, which then eventually manifests into who and what we are.... A Potent Evolutionary Moment is every moment we make a choice in how to feel, how to react, how to go out into the world and BE.
I think, that what these snippets of soul-talk are telling me today is that more change is afoot, Gilly. This isn't strictly a feeling I'm getting from the universe, I have been advised in a veiled manner that the old world does not wait for she who builds a boat to explore the new...
We have to jump. We have to jump or we will be pushed into boxes and those boxes will become too small, held together by the tape of expectation and sameness. The cliff is sharp on the way down. We will be cut and we will bleed. The water is treacherous at times and we might be slammed again and again by our loneliness and our fear and the crushing possibility that it would be easier to conform. And then we have to swim. Because on the shore of our soul is a better version of ourselves FOR ourselves and the world in which we manifest our choices.
So, off to the edge I go. Sisters in arms please join me.
**Note to reader: this is not a post about my suffering LOL. It is simply an observation about life. maybe it will ring true to some folks...
The "meaning" of the season. What is it anyway? Gift giving? Running here and there? Prepping feasts and spending time with family and friends? Helping suffering cats to find the Rainbow Bridge? For me it was the latter. Long story short, most people suck and others (humans and animals) suffer for it.
It was during this whole sad affair though that some thoughts started forming in my head about how we ourselves make the season's meaning what it is. We have choices in that just as we have choices in life. I know people who insist on spending more than they have and doing more than they can so that "their kids will have Christmas" while others try desperately to instill something else in the minds and hearts of their own and beat back the piles of presents that grandparents and others heap upon the young. People decorate their houses like castles and then complain about the mess. They travel far and wide and then, exhausted, say they are honestly glad it is over for another year. These are all choices. Just like leaving your inside-only cat in a hostile environment to fend for itself is a choice...
So, I started this thought process about how our choices really form our daily lives and how in forming our daily lives that translates into a pattern and that pattern sort of starts to create that which we manifest overall. Now, sometimes the universe puts us in a place and then we make the choices but in the end, it is the choices that shape our souls, not the place the universe has put us in.
So, I have cried more in the past several days than I have in years. It all began with that cat but I think that mainly, I have been shedding some sort of worn and weathered inner skin that is made up of my own choices. The cat reminded me that there is most often no beauty or peace in death. I was first introduced to this concept by working for a veterinary clinic. It is our nature (human and other) to struggle to live. We fight for it even when we should let go. Animals do this too. It is natural. So, in watching the cat, I was reminded of this and prone to think about death in general.
Death of youth, death of innocence, of hopes and dreams, of plans, of trust, of relationships, of almost anything that creates a transition in our lives is in some way a painful struggle. Remember that in the Tarot the card of Death is not about death per say, but about transition, often painful. Even when we do what is right or best or needed that doesn't mean it isn't excruciating.
Am I shaping my soul with my choices? Most certainly. What do I hope for it to reflect? Spirit, patience, kindness, healing, hope, joy, peace... As I think about those words and think about them manifesting in my life I am keenly aware that many of my choices will need to shift in order to accommodate them. My mom sent me a Christmas card that applauded my unique approach to life and the world, my "differentness" so to speak. And while I do wear it like a badge of honor I tend to go out into the world everyday looking for a fight, a struggle, with my guard up and my sword close at hand. This has been my choice and although I do it for armor I do not think it has protected me from hurt. It has certainly, most likely, kept me from manifesting some of the attributes I hope for my soul to reflect. Interesting, isn't it? Again, choices.
So the meaning of the season seems to be reflection for me. And the acknowledgement of choice and all of the suffering, sadness, tears, struggle, truth, growth and continual change that it brings.
Last night I was informed that "many people have said you are having a mid-life crisis". I immediately went on the defensive. I felt like I had to explain myself, redefine the statement, prove that no, it is not a mid-life "crisis" so much as a re-evaluation of my soul, a re-acquaintance with myself, a.....
Then. Why am I explaining myself? I needed to change my life so I did. Why is there a need to respond to ANYTHING beyond that?
Because we all are conditioned to what we should be, that's why. Whether we rally against societal expectations and norms or actively embrace them we are all still products of that society and the impact of it shapes us. Some more than others but, still...
And further, where does this negativity come from that is associated with re-evaluating one's life? I didn't go out and buy a Maserati for piss-sake I bought a place to live, within my budget, that I could manage. It doesn't have quartz counter tops (BTW did ya'll know that granite is "out" and quartz is "in" now? pffffttttt), or even stainless steel appliances (they are white. I know, gasp right? Again, pfffftttt). I didn't buy a Friesian I bought an unregistered effing Quarter Horse for 800 bucks because his conformation was solid and he had good feet. I bought a small truck because I needed a 4x4 and I know my limitations with my ability to drive (LOL) and financially. I didn't go find myself some young punk to hang out with, I chose to hang out with myself because I wanted to. Because I needed to. This entire year of my re-evaluation of my life has been a big ole' reality check imposed by ME on ME. So, not your traditional mid-life crisis folks.
But, there I go explaining myself again.
So Much Hate. So much comparison and angst and anger and non-acceptance and ill-will and judgment and put-down and nitpicking and fear. So Much Fear. That's what all of it stems from. Fear of others, fear of self, fear of longing, of loneliness, of loss of hope, of loss of control, of the inability to just accept others and their choices.
No more explanations. Just living.
I wanted to write a post about fear and I wasn't even sure where to put it. I may end up posting it to several blogs. Why? Because it permeates many portions of my life.
People have no idea how full of fear I am. Well, LOL, I guess you people do because I'm about to tell you all about it. But, in "real" life I have mastered the ability to hide the fact that no matter what is going on I am pretty much pissing my pants inside. I've mastered this ability because I have always lived in fear. So, you know, you get pretty good at acting otherwise after decades of practice.
I'm not sure where it comes from. I have a few clues to how it may have developed just based on my life and moving through it but there was no one defining moment that said: you are now a fearful person. To the contrary, it was more likely several thousand tiny things and how my mind processes experience. None of the circumstances are about blame. We all make our own way in the end. But, acknowledging where beliefs come from is important in coping with negative ones.
I grew up in the shadow of an amazing older brother. A good deal older (8 years) than me so he was actually an adult while I was just entering puberty. My brother was (and is) a wonderful guy who is not only very well liked but is a talented musician, played every sport available to him while growing up, loves people and is still humble and down to earth. He is a prankster and a kid at heart. He is practical and logical and walks the line.
It is a joke in our family that he got all the "natural" ability and I got the ability to dream. LOL. From the start I was a bit different. I spent a lot of time alone, yes, daydreaming. I immersed myself in fantasy. I did not like people much, even as a kid. I hated team sports and was very sensitive. My mom always marveled at my ability to cry over the most random things.
We, my brother and I, were raised by different members of our families for the most part. The reasons were varied and I'll spare the details but the philosophies on life were definitely, distinctly opposite.
I think that a lot of times in life, you learn what is proven to you. I read an article not long ago that said that people who "don't like people" often feel that way because their examples of relationships and interactions between people and with people were for the most part not positive throughout their younger years. It is an overgeneralization yes, but I think it has merit.
I learned to not trust people through trial and major error and if I could not trust people then how could I trust myself? I think this is where the fear was born. Because if you have trust in yourself, what do you have to fear? If, despite all the world is showing you, you have faith in your own being, you are golden. If you question even that, fear creeps in.
It has taken me years and years to even recognize that I am fearful! For decades I denied it. I put on a mask of "I fear nothing" and went out into the world with my teeth gritted, pretending that I was well put together and confident. That got me further than I would have imagined actually but there comes a point in your life where you really want to know yourself and acknowledge yourself in deep ways. So, that began my admission that I live in fear.
What sparked this post was buying a horse. That process really has brought ALL this contemplation to the surface. I lost my daily contact with horses almost four months ago. For a time I was frozen in what I now know was fear. People would ask me what are you doing about the horse situation? and I would have a million excuses as to why I wasn't looking for a horse, or a place to keep a horse. Stuff like - it is winter, there are probably no boarding spots available (without even looking), I don't know what I want, it is too soon... What was really going on was that I was paralyzed by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of fucking up, fear of going and talking to random people, riding random horses, picking a horse with three legs (I mentioned in my horse blog having a dream that's what I did and waking up in a panic).
My fear generally goes like this: I have a decision to make and in making that decision I come up with a thousand "worst case scenarios" that range from the simple to the very elaborate as in: I can't ride my horse over there by that stream because what if a duck flies into his head, he spooks and throws me off and there happens to be some stick lying there that I don't know about and I land on it and impale myself through the heart and then I'll be dead. LOL. Oh, I'll give you another one from just last night when it was late and I was cold and didn't feel like walking with the dog all the way over to where he pees. So, I stood in the doorway and waited for him. Then I start thinking: It is really dark over there and what if he gets attacked by a coyote and I won't be able to save him because it is icy and by the time I get there he'll be dead and what if I fall on the ice in the process, hit my head and the coyote eats me too? This is COMPLETELY illogical because first of all, while we do have coyotes they are not close to our houses and furthermore WTF kind of random crazy shit is that anyway, yet these are the things I am thinking about?
Fear is so my constant companion that in my Winter Solstice (new year) ritual I centered my whole ceremony on letting it go. Obviously, magic and continual work go hand in hand...
So, getting beyond fear is not just a "hobby" for me. It is a daily and constant struggle. I probably will never be able to put it completely to rest. You cannot become another type of person just because you want to. Sheer will cannot overcome these things to any further extent than it already has in my case. I also worry as I get older that the fear will increase as many phobias and other "ticks' tend to do as we age and become more out of touch with the ebb and flow of action and what is happening "in the trenches" of life. It is times like this when I envy people that fear nothing, but even then only to the extent that I think - gosh if they only knew...
A Diary of...
Trying to live well in every way...and sometimes laughing about it later.