Brave enough, after all

Prologue: I am no longer on partial sick leave. I am considered well and am back to work 100%! I have new tasks but am the master of my day, even though my work calendar has never been as full as it is now! 

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Now: I was tasked with teaching some part-time workers about what a beta tester does at work, the temporary position I was in for over 18 months while on partial sick leave. And having not ever done this before, I was easily driving myself crazy. Eventually, after trying to plan the lesson and more or less succeeding, I got to a point where I started to settle down. Where I realized that it was hard to know if I was doing this right because it had never been done before. There is no measure for success for this yet.  

It started with a couple of things: A visit to my doctor's where I realized that "Trust, not doubt" (in Norwegian: "Tillit, ikke tvil") was my new mantra or motto. That was followed by an instruction from an online course that read, "Breathe in the words 'I choose ease'; breathe out 'I release.'" 

I tried. I tried to calm the monkey brain, the atoms of fear that insist on making up my molecules. I ended up bringing the one anti-anxiety "drug" I have to work: A Bach flower remedy (Aspen).  

 At some point, a part of me realized that I had done enough. Still, I had almost too many butterflies leading up to the day I was supposed to have the actual class. Today was the day for the class. 

 A friend on Facebook posted this: 

—Jon Acuff on Twitter

—Jon Acuff on Twitter

 

What a wonderful message on today of all days! 

During a morning team meeting another inspiring and apropos thing happened: We were discussing how to handle changes and new technology, when a co-worker quoted Pippi Longstocking, a character from Astrid Lindgren's children book: "I've never done that before so I'm sure I'll be able to do it." 

What totally different approaches to the new and unknown! Instead of fearing failure, why not either embrace it or just assume it won't even happen? 

This afternoon I found my two students and started our two-hour lesson with "Be brave enough to be bad at something new"—a message they needed, too, since what I was about to teach them was totally unknown to them. It lightened the mood and gave us a good start. 

We ended up having a good session, and I have two co-workers who are eager to try out their new skills.  

Epilogue: As I sum up my day, which ended on a wonderful high note—no failures!—I have to take a moment to be grateful for the guidance I got. Thank you, Universe!  

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Clearing out

I think I’ve mentioned Daily Om before, a website that offers life affirming essays and online courses. I’m currently taking a course on clearing. On any other website, it would be called decluttering, but it’s not just getting rid of stuff. It’s the why we hang on to things and how it feels to have them or let go of them. Not quite Marie Kondo, either, this. But rather a supplement to firm tossing and saying thank you to stuff. The course starts with exploring one’s attitude to things and to clearing them.

It’s slow going, which I like. I really do not understand “housework”. I’m not good with routines. I’ve followed other flaky people and their systems and have learned something from each of them. Still, I hunt for The One Method that will get me decluttering and cleaning and all that.

So why is this different? Maybe because it starts from the inside and you make the outside happen according to that. For example, one lesson was about movement. About how we get stuck in an attitude or a belief. We need to get ourselves unstuck. So act that out by moving something in your home: Find something that’s out of place and put it in place, or find something that is trash and toss it out.

That idea I could embrace: That the little household chore was about getting me moving, not about establishing some routine in the home. And that right there is the “hook” I need, the attitudinal approach that helps it make sense to me.

All the emptied and washed spice jars, ready for the recycling bin. This is the only “spice rack” I have ever had - or will need.

All the emptied and washed spice jars, ready for the recycling bin. This is the only “spice rack” I have ever had - or will need.

And from that desire, from wanting to get unstuck, from wanting more energy, I then get a routine: Every day I do that little thing in my home for me.

The course has motivated me to declutter all my spices today. That’s another thing: Understanding who I truly am, and what I’m actually likely to do. I will never do all the cooking all those spices suggest. Most of them were covered with a thin layer of gray concrete dust, so they haven’t been touched in the over 2.5 years since my bathroom was remodeled (!). So out the vast majority went. I even got a rhythm going emptying the little jars for recycling and felt really good about my little task. I was honoring my true nature: Salt and pepper go a long way with how I cook. And I finished, too!

I think that’s what has been missing: Feeling personal about the task at hand. Weird that I treat routines in my home like a service I do for a stranger. But housekeeping truly isn’t something I “get”. I do it because I understand intellectually that that’s what one does. (I admit, I do this quite irregularly.) I don’t understand it intuitively. It’s not second nature to me at all.

The things I do that “feed” me, that give me meaning on a personal or emotional level, those things I tend to do regularly. The penny dropped when I finally timed how long it takes to do dishes and realized it wasn’t that much of a chore. Now it’s something I do with pleasure. Also: The first place I can see in my home that my mental health is starting to stumble is my kitchen counter: the longer the dirty dishes don’t get done, the more “down” I’ve been. I’m back to my happy self again when I want to go into the kitchen and wash the dishes. Sometimes I’ll wash them anyway, because I know the cleared counters will make me feel better.

See, it’s an emotional thing, not a “let’s keep the house clean” thing.

And maybe, also, this is why apps don’t work for me. Lists somebody else comes up with overwhelm me because I don’t know how to use them for my own stuff. I don’t know where to start. Oh, yes, on an intellectual basis I know. I’ve read enough emails from FlyLady to have a pretty good grasp of what a daily routine should look like. But it’s not my routine. I can’t feel it. (FlyLady did help me finally do the dishes regularly, though.)

Happy accomplishment, Saturday’s decluttered travel stuff. How many of those little toothbrush caps does one person need?

Happy accomplishment, Saturday’s decluttered travel stuff. How many of those little toothbrush caps does one person need?

What works? Oddly, it’s writing a daily list by hand. Same thing with the grocery shopping. I can’t get comfortable with apps. I write my lists from scratch in Google Keep and when I’m done, “delete all checked items” and start over again next time. I think maybe this is how I focus and organize my thoughts.

Sometime last year I started writing daily to-do’s in a notebook I leave open on my kitchen table. It became a part of my healing journey through this past fall and winter. I saw the so-called “dot journals” or “bullet journals” and instantly felt overwhelmed by all the effort people put into those things. But I liked the idea of a dot in front of task and if you do it, write an X through the dot, else put a > there if you’re carrying the task over to the next day. I used to actually write little boxes to check, but the dot method is quicker and clearer. I also like that if I end up getting around to a task after all, the > easily becomes an X.

So finally, at age 58, I’m starting to understand myself, how I actually approach things, how I get meaning out of something.

Thank you for reading all this! Here’s your reward: Edvard Grieg in the Bergen city park.

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Forgiveness

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others their trespasses.” Matthew 6:12

I remember when I first started to seriously forgive people with whom I had a difficult relationship. I thought forgiving them would end something. It didn’t. It started something (I wish I’d been warned). I thought forgiveness was a way to pull a bandaid off, revealing the healing wound underneath (warning: if you’re squeamish, this next part may be icky but it’s what I’ve got). But it was more like draining a cyst (I’ve done that a couple of times) and then the doctor packs the emptied hole and you have to keep getting that changed for up to a month while the wound heals from the bottom up, from the inside out.

That’s what forgiveness starts: A process of healing you from within yourself. Surprisingly little to do with the other person, actually. It’s not about justice or lack of; it’s about masochism. By forgiving the other person (or even yourself), you’re basically no longer hurting yourself. The other person already hurt you. They hurt you that time. You may or may not have gotten justice or an apology for that hurt. The thing is, it’s in the past, but every time you think about it and react to it. you hurt yourself. So instead of that other person having hurt you badly that time back in May of 2006, here you are, 13 years later, still seething about it. The other person doesn’t even know!

See how useless that is? See why forgiveness sets you free? Because that’s what it’s doing. It’s letting you off the hook, not the other person. It’s putting the past where it belongs: In the past.

I’ve mentioned ho’oponopono a few times. I come back to it because it is so easy. You don’t have to know what’s bothering you, you don’t have to know what’s stuck, you don’t have to know anything. These four deceptively simple sentences do a lot of work for you. Just keep repeating and repeating and repeating (in any order you want):

I love you
I’m sorry
Please forgive me
Thank you

Any time a thought that isn’t the most supportive crosses your mind, do ho’oponopono. (I really need to remember to take my own advice.) Or fudge and play Jasons Stephenson’s wonderful track on repeat (I go to sleep to this).

Just let your wounds heal.

Another battle

Obviously, something deep in my subconscious wants to imitate Nedry’s lock screen in “Jurassic Park”, doing his finger-wagging “Ah-ah-ah”.

I had bronchitis in February. Was out sick for two weeks.

Bronchitis was something I had a lot as a kid. Usually when the bullying over time finally got to me, my body would react with bronchitis. When I finally recovered, I blogged, intending to keep blogging. But I lost my routines, my momentum while sick and it took me until the end of March to get it back.

That’s when I hurt a knee, just standing with a very straight leg on my living room floor. Sheesh.

Got my PC from work delivered home because brain works, but dang, if this knee stuff isn’t darned distracting!

After a week at home, a friend shopped for me and showed me a good exercise for knees. Can’t overdo it, though. Can’t do the steepest hill between my place and the office so have been taking the bus to work.

It’s like everything just says “Ah-ah-ah” and I realize there’s something deep inside me I’m not addressing or even aware of. Time to go in deep and see if I can find it. And heal it.

I have always had a copy of Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” and all the affirmations for all the ills. Bronchitis: The family is fighting. Knees: Stubborn ego and pride. So peace and harmony and forgiveness.

I think the bronchitis is a matter of feeling safe with the ones around me. Weirdly, I had it last year, too, at about the same time. I sure hope it’s not going to become a tradition!

But the knees… They’re about fear and the solution is forgiveness and compassion.

In a discussion with friends, we were talking about how forgiveness is the one thing that heals everything. I said something about being done forgiving others; now it was about forgiving myself.

But I wonder…

I may have peeled so many layers off the onion that is all me and my experiences that I’ve found fresh stuff to forgive, and it may involve others, after all. Some little remnant is left, like not quite emptying the existing bottle of shampoo or sauce before opening a new one.

Time to stop this battle and dig into healing.

Apple blossom

Apple blossom

Five year journey, part 2

(Part 1 here)

Sometimes, I think that I have undiagnosed ADHD. I relate too well to descriptions of people with ADD etc. Apparently, December children are overrepresented on the ADD spectrum. I am a December child. My therapist did point out that it doesn’t really matter if I have ADD or not; I hold down a job, own my own condo, have no bill collectors chasing me, etc. I adult just fine.

The thing about being scatterbrained (besides needing to write everything down) is that things requiring a lot of discipline remain out of reach. I have, for years, disappointed myself in not being driven to try a 90 minute daily practice of yoga and meditation because enlightenment sounds so cool!

Instead, I’ve done the spiritual equivalent of the buffet: A little of this, a little of that. Restless, curious, easily wowed, easily bored. Some things seep in and stick, though. 

A few of my spiritual books. The wide unnamed one is a worn copy of “A Course in Miracles”, I gave a new cover.

A few of my spiritual books. The wide unnamed one is a worn copy of “A Course in Miracles”, I gave a new cover.

I was raised by a grandma who was into New Thought, theosophy and astrology. Her wisdom and guidance and free thinking guided me during some crucial years. The idea that God is not a being but Love has stuck with me ever since my mother introduced me to Science of Mind at age 17. Affirmations have stuck with me. I used guided meditation a lot in college and it mitigated my scatteredness; I was able to focus and remember better. But I did that sort of thing on a whim or once a week or whenever. The experience and knowledge didn’t leave me; it became what I call my spiritual toolbox.

My spiritual toolbox contains the fruit of many classes, books, sermons and seminars over the years. Affirmations, faith, astrology,  meditations, yoga, etheric oils, reiki, crystals, Tarot, etc. I can tell you this: There is one constant and that is Love. If whatever you are being taught or told is not promoting goodness, it’s not True. I have also remembered Grandma’s words that God will always be stronger than any tool I use (such as astrology); a reminder to commune with spiritual source. 

The thing is, I have disappointed myself by not having routines, for not having a regular practice, for not being disciplined. This has applied to both the spiritual and the physical.

Yet, here at the start of 2019, I know I’m not the same as in 2018. When panic starts, I recognize it far more quickly than before and I stop it far more quickly. It no longer becomes something I must care about; it’s just there and I shove it aside. 

It has occured to me that this is something to be proud of. That I have, in spite of my monkey brain, been able to do the work that has changed my thinking and beliefs and will continue to do so. I know that it’s very important not to get frustrated. Feeling forced or “shoulding” myself is not healthy or helpful and just makes me want to abandon whatever it is I’m trying.

I took small steps. I talked with my therapists and healers and friends, sorted my thoughts and my beliefs, journaled a bit, found a meditation that let me visit my childhood, and talked some more. Bit by bit, a new structure took form. The thing is, it wasn’t just one thing and it certainly wasn’t just one steady thing, as in daily or regularly. My curiosity drove me to books and articles, learning about complex PTSD, about mantras that can heal depression, about my own family dynamics.

Learning the Gayatri mantra by heart in the shower

Learning the Gayatri mantra by heart in the shower

And I have realized something: Having variety is what works for me. The moment the novelty wears off, so does my dedication. But switching it up a bit or keeping it short is doable. For example, my I-planned-to-this-daily yoga routine is 15 minutes long and I choose to target different body parts each time. My morning Om chanting takes only as long as it takes for my tea kettle to boil (about 2 minutes), maybe a minute longer. That’s it.

For years, I’ve recited a “prayer” on my walk to work. I’ve used it for so many years, I can’t remember its source. It goes like this:

Close your eyes or focus on something natural, like clouds or trees or a flower. Hold your palms open and facing up, if you can. Breathe in while saying silently to yourself, “I breathe in the cosmic forces of the Universe, asking for strength protection and guidance.” Exhale. Repeat once. 

If you want something extra, do this a third time, changing what you say after the comma. My standard is “…asking that each and every encounter with each and every person be a joy and a blessing for all concerned.” If I have more things I’m concerned about, I end up holding my breath for quite a bit!

The above is now part of a new morning routine, one that got tacked onto a regular activity I do. The best way to start a new habit is to stick it to an existing one. (My problem is that I don’t have many existing regular habits.) So, while my tea kettle boils water for my morning coffee, I do 9 Om chants (because I like 9) while raising and lowering my arms, then I do the cosmic forces prayer. I now also start with some yoga forward bends which help loosen me up.

I’ve tried apps. They are rarely a perfect fit so I lose interest or get frustrated. I also don’t want my cell phone in bed with me. So something I can do myself, that involves my body, seems to be a better method.

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I finally own my flighty self; I acknowledge and accept that buffet-style is what works for me. I no longer want to be someone else, be different. I can accept who I am, how I function. I’m not stupid or irresponsible; I just have to understand what motivates me and what helps me.

When it comes to my own mental health, I have done what matters. I have listened to all my helpers, and I continue to listen to them. I have taken responsibility for my healing, in my own way.

I’m not usually proud of myself, but this time I am! Yes!

Five year journey, part 1

I’m thinking about the last five years, because the blog I started in 2014 went poof as I switched providers. (Always read the instructions thoroughly before switching website hosts, kids.) Then a bit of magic happened and I could save my texts and restore posts; the photos were already saved. 

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As I went through and relinked photos, I saw that I’d been talking about stress and things bothering me on and off. It isn’t just a process to heal; it can also be a process getting sick. (These posts now have the tag “personal” for my own purposes, but they may serve you, too.)

The communists of the Cold War era would make five year plans. Life coaches and career advisers often ask you where you see yourself in five years’ time. That’s a question I’ve never been able to answer. In 2014, I was on a healing path, having explored A Course in Miracles and finding ho’oponopono since 2009. A big rift in my family relations had been healed at this point. I was feeling pretty darned good in 2014. 

I remember I found myself in a situation a couple of years earlier, where I had to learn a lot of new things. Nothing like doing that to confirm that an old dog can indeed learn new tricks. And a good thing that was, because in 2014, I lost my job in one department due to downsizing, but got another job in another department, requiring me to learn entirely new things. And I did. 

I was still riding high on whatever wave this was through 2015. Slowly, in 2016, something was catching up to me. Not the age of my bathroom (a museum piece at this point, and finally renovated in 2016), but something else. We were downsized again; everybody in my (new) department had to reapply for their jobs. I got lucky, once again, and got my job back, but it was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had at work because of what it did to all of us. So the winter of 2016/2017 sucked. Easter week of 2017 came and sucked with only one day of warmth and sunshine; the rest was chilly, cloudy and wet.

Summer of 2017 as seen from inside a boat

Summer of 2017 as seen from inside a boat

I had family visiting that Easter and the visit became rather challenging and disappointing. It did feed the thing catching up to me. By the fall of 2017, I was not doing well, calling in sick to work after a panic attack. I basically stood at my own front door in tears because I couldn’t bear the thought of walking through and going to work. That’s  a pretty strong message! I’m sure that a rainy, cool summer with no trip abroad hadn’t helped my spirits, either. My boss thought transfering me to a temporary position as a beta tester for IT would be a good fit. And for a while it was.

In the midst of all this, I was taking evening classes, dealing with a frozen shoulder, catching up on US tax filing in order to renounce my US citizenship, getting a Norwegian citizenship, and finally severing one of the last ties to my country of birth on January 30, 2018. (Still have final tax return to go as of this writing.)

The summer of 2018 the thing catching up to me finally introduced itself. “Hi, my full name is Depression Anxiety Panic-Attack. I’m moving in. I’m going to terrify you and make you feel useless and helpless and keep you from going on vacation. For starters.”

Well, this was unfamiliar territory. I’ve always been a worry-wort but I’ve also been able to think it away. But this time, two things happened: This new feeling was stronger than anything I’d experienced before—and I seemed to be locked into it, not thinking about my spiritual toolbox and how it could help. The library was open but I didn’t think to go in. 

But, even when shit happens, I’m a lucky girl. A friend had been through the same thing and was ready to spend time with me and let me talk. I got a full refund on the vacation trip I had to cancel. I had the satisfaction of knowing that canceling had been the right thing. I enjoyed a relaxing “staycation” with a few museum visits and lots of sunshine and heat. (2018 was a record-breaking hot and dry summer.) Back at work after my summer vacation was over, I seemed to be all right—until I wasn’t. 

On August 30 2018, I went on partial sick leave. It’s almost 6 months later, and I’m still on partial sick leave. 

I talked to the company psychologist back in September/October. That handful of meetings did me a lot of good, and helped me be gentle with myself. I identified the triggers and the latent self-talk I didn’t know I had. Childhood stuff, of course. A whole story of good and bad, of guilt, loss and confusion. Of me trying to be a Good Girl so the family will start being loving and supportive again like it used to be. I didn’t know I was still trying to be a Good Girl 40-50 years later.

My insurance through my employer then got me another therapist for 10 more sessions. As I built myself back up with her help, I stretched the sessions out more. I have two left. Here too was some lovely synchronicity: I’d discovered yoga mantras and my therapist practiced yoga and gave me some tips.

My GP, who is fresh out of med school, also turned out to be a fantastic listener and the one who reminded me that no matter what I learned in therapy, that was just the start, getting the necessary tools. All the healing and work was going to come after and take time. Bless him for reminding me that this stuff takes time! And for a constant diet of partial sick leave.

So here I am. Feeling a lot better than in a long while. So good, in fact, that I feel like applying for work. I realize now that the job that saved me in 2014 is not a good fit in the long run. 2019 will be the year I figure out where to go next. I’m too old to leave my employer, but changing departments is no problem. I’ve just got to make myself ready.

But baby steps. Bit by bit.

A version of the Gayatri mantra that I learned by heart to help myself. More about that in part 2.

90, if you want

A friend commented on another blog post of mine about how we're told that loneliness shortens a life span like a smoking habit does. Her married parents are now within waving distance of 90; she doubts she'll get to that age.

I have a theory, or maybe it's just a good ol' opinion about longevity and it's this: People live a long life because they want to.

I know where my friend's coming from. I have thought the same: That making it to 90 (or even 80) just might not be in the cards for a single, childless woman who has nothing but seated hobbies like knitting, watching TV, surfing the 'net, blogging…

I grew up with "The Greatest Generation", the people who practically starved to death during the Great Depression, then went through a world war (and maybe starved then, too) and still made it into their 90's before giving up this earthbound life.

So the researchers think they lived long because they ate little. Underfeeding yourself makes your metabolism slow down which makes you live longer (is the theory I've read). I have, however, also read the opposite: That people with a hearty appetite for food also have a hearty appetite for life. And we do know that for both people and animals, going off your feed is not a good sign.

Here's the thing: The folks I grew up with, my "Greatest Generation" grandparents (or maybe they're the generation before), made it well past 90 before deciding to leaqve this earth. Grandpa was torpedoed and divorced during the war—and subsequently estranged from his son ; Grandma has been widowed twice and never got along with her own mother. They've moved countries, getting stuck with a kid in their retirement that they weren't planning on. Both had a past as smokers. Grandma was always overweight and hypertensive. Big stressors. They went through a lot of unhealthy shit and still they made it past 90.

Yes, they were married. They had each other and they got along, and they both had a positive, friendly disposition. They had both stopped smoking decades earlier, and I guess having me around in their old age was also a positive.

These are my two data points. Still, the question is: With everything going on, why live into your 90's? Why did my grandparents?

Nothing says "I've been here a while" like a moss veneer

Nothing says "I've been here a while" like a moss veneer

For Grandpa, the end started when the war came back to him. Psychosis brought on by PTSD robbed him of the last of his strength and he spent his last months in a nursing home. He was hard of hearing, had cataracts and was basically hard to communicate with but also restless. He calmed down when Grandma and I visited and just talked like we always did. Us gals yapping, Grandpa just listening—the way it had always been.

He didn't die until I gave him permission to. I didn't know that's what I was doing at the time. Same thing with Grandma. She didn't die until she knew I would be OK without her.

With Grandpa, it was a Sunday visit, him oblivious to Grandma's and my presence. Knowing he would never come home again, I started talking, telling him that bringing me to a foreign country, away from my parents, was OK. It turned out well. I wasn't angry; I was grateful. The deaf man turned his head towards me as I was speaking, his cataract-covered eyes looked clear and focused and he was: Focused on me, on what I was saying, alert. And I am damned sure he heard every word I said. Two days later the nursing home called and said he'd died.

He needed closure. Then he could go.

Grandma was 9 years younger than Grandpa and we got to enjoy another 11 years of talking about everything and anything before it was her turn. With her it was the body that gave out first. A lot of sitting probably gave her more pain than necessary. It was frustrating for me with her in the nursing home; I handled being the adult and having to be responsible for both of us rather badly (sorry, Grandma). Bless her, she always stayed patient with me. Our last conversation ended with me telling her I had as much in my savings account as she had in hers. "You do?" she said. Later than evening she had a stroke that put her in a coma and she died within a week.

She was always after me to save, always worried about my finances (she had worried about her daughter the same way, so I guess it was habit). Knowing I'd got the message and was doing fine let her know she didn't have to stay around any more, so she left. Keep in mind, this was a woman who would wonder why she'd lived so long. What for? Now you know.

So if people actually choose when to leave this earth, what is all the advice regarding longevity about?

It's actually about 1) pain avoidance and 2) purpose. Taking care of the body through regular movement and eating well helps mitigate problems with aging or illness. Having meaningful relationships and hobbies gives one purpose.

It's like making sure your aging car is well-maintained; it won't break down as often if it is. Also, a car needs to be used regularly so the battery doesn't go flat and the oil doesn't turn to sludge. That analogy of regular use also applies to human minds and bodies.

Here's the thing, though: We can't all do all the things researchers think will make us live longer. If you want to live a long and happy life, do it your own way. I mean, if you hate exercise, exercising will just be another life-shortening stressor in your life, especially if skipping it makes you feel guilty. Likewise with anything mental. Creating stress and guilt in ourselves defeats the purpose. Find something that lets you move that works for you. And for your mind, same thing. Find something that sparks your own creativity, something that makes the hours fly by. And if it's done sitting, so what. Peace of mind and joy far outweigh sitting.

Speaking of peace of mind, my adventures with Norwegian sick leave, therapy and having a depression have taught me a few things about myself. I thought I was strong and positive about myself, but whadya know: I too have a skeleton in a closet. I made the closet; I put the skeleton there. It's named Guilt and it has very strong bones. (Obligatory Astrology: This whole blog post is nothing but Saturn/Capricorn stuff.)

So the new lesson I'm learning is how to be gentle with myself, how to have a healthy perspective on who I am and what I am capable of. Also: Practicing forgiveness. Forgiving myself, and forgiving others (mostly myself, these days). The healthiest thing I have found I can do for myself is to be my own best friend, to accept and love myself.

We have to make our own rules for living. Knowing how to make ourselves happy has huge value. Who wants to be ancient but miserable? Find your peace of mind and your joy, and enjoy for as long as you want.

My grandma. I try to be like her.

My grandma. I try to be like her.

Longevity: My maternal grandmother when she was 93. Those are her paintings on the wall. Art was one of her joys.

#astrology: Transitting Mercury in Capricorn is right on my natal Saturn today.

Expecting

In my ongoing journey to figure myself and life and all that stuff out, I’m now trying to learn about non-attachment. Attachment = expectation. In “The Shack”, they suggest you ditch the noun and go for the verb: Expecting. That is making more and more sense to me. Expectation sets you up for failure; expecting opens you up.

Yes, I just plagiarized my own comment on my previous post. I have noticed lately that unopened messages produce their own kind of stress in me. I have been feeling overwhelmed so am back on 50% sick leave (had tried to reduce to 30%). It just doesn't take much to get me worked up, and it doesn't feel like excitement or anticipation. It feels like dread. So not good.

The thing is, it's just the mind playing tricks. Because every single message or email I opened was harmless. Utterly harmless. Nothing overwhelming or negative or difficult. Just a message.

There are a variety of techniques for dealing with stuff, some physical (like taking deep breaths), some more mental (like saying you're safe as long as you're breathing). I have been trying to meditate, unguided, silent, blank. And of course my mind wants to fill the space. That's what minds do. So I have to gently shove the thoughts aside but the process itself has led to some discoveries.

Like when Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" shows up because I said to myself I want to focus on a blank space. I said to my mind I'd share that later. And that wording gave listening to music a whole new level. It made a two-way street. "I'll listen later" is one-way. All about me, the listener, and the music is just an object. But "I'll share later" seems to acknowledges the original effort of the musicians. They aren't next to me now, but "sharing" creates a more active form of listening; the music becomes a bridge. This could, of course, just be wordplay, but I like it.

Anyway, back to messages. The Universe has been deliberately setting me up, to force me to learn to think differently. 

My 50% sick leave started with 3 days of 100% (that overwhelmed thing). I texted my team leader at work twice on Friday: Once to tell her I was off sick, and later to tell her I would be back at 50% and what schedule would work for her? I got no reply on Friday and the back of my mind was sure I'd pissed her off in some way. 

Sunday I was set meet a friend for coffee, a most reliable friend. If he says he's picking me up at 1 pm, he's picking me up at 1 pm. He usually texts me to let me know he's in the parking lot. But I got no text, and immediately entertained the idea that he had driven off the road and was dead somewhere. After telling myself I'd survive losing him and I was also being utterly ridiculous, I texted "Did we have a date at 1?" and waited for a message back that didn't come.

That's when I noticed that my birdfeeder had … a pair of blue tits! So far it's been mostly sparrows and one timid great tit (a young one so that's why; he hasn't learned yet). Blue tits! Cool!

My phone rang. My friend wondering why I wasn't meeting him in the parking lot. I hadn't got a text, I said, but I'm on my way. That was 1:04 pm.

Later on Sunday, I got my missing texts. The delayed text from my friend let me see the birds. Texts sent Friday from my team leader also showed up. All was well.

I just really need to stop assuming the worst. Or assuming at all.


A tit is what the bird is called in Europe. The North American cousin is called a chickadee. But saying great tit is great fun, ain't it. ;-)

Also, here's a video that explains fractals the way I wanted to explain it in my last post. :-)