WEEKLY STRETCH – 7-28-17 ~ Attitude Shift


(I just love this photo and thought it a good one to post to welcome my birthday month, August.)

We are going to be moving again. I have mentioned that the woman who owns the house we live in will be selling it in the Spring, which means we are about to start sifting through our stuff again. We moved into this house two years ago January. It’s been a great transitional place for us to land and recharge. We took this time to heal and reflect on where we’ve been and envision where to go next. We’ve found a wonderful place not far from here and are excited about the prospect of living there.

What has been hovering in my consciousness is a double-edged sword of dread around the hard physical and emotional work of cleaning out, letting go, packing and unpacking juxtaposed with the wonderful feeling of lightness that comes with shedding excess, the prospect of living space that suits our lifestyle, and starting over with a sense of the fresh and new.

Chatting with my cousin Lana the other day I shared my conflicting feelings with her. She told me that she absolutely loves moving. I looked at her like she had two heads and asked her why. I loved her enthusiastic response. She shared how much she loves the idea of handling all of her “stuff” again. She loves touching things that are around her home that she ordinarily would take for granted. She enjoys taking time to remember where she was when this thing or that thing was purchased or received. She enjoys having time to hold these memories and feelings in her consciousness. For her it’s a gift, an opportunity, a great pleasure – to reflect on her life and the events and circumstances that brought these things into her life and the people and places associated with them. As she described her perspective on moving I noticed a peaceful faraway look in her eyes and could feel how sincere she was. I sort of shook my head and wondered what I might be missing.

So, I’ve taken Lana’s point of view to heart. I’ve decided to make the effort to shift my attitude about the upcoming move. I admit that this requires a good deal of consciousness since I am aware that my thoughts and responses thus far have been reinforced – by me. Up to now I’ve allowed myself to perpetuate the idea that moving is going to be a drudge, a bummer, a pain in the ass, (I could go on but that’s not really helpful). Instead I’m adopting Lana’s take on the whole thing, looking at my belongings with new eyes, and approaching the move with an embrace rather than “talk to the hand” resistance. I’m looking around my home assessing my stuff; thinking about what stays and what goes, what we should sell or give away, what is a treasure and what is no longer of service to us but could be of value to someone else. I’m realistic enough to know that some of these decisions may be difficult, especially when handling things that belonged to my parents or that I’ve been saving as memorabilia but only look at when I’m moving it from one place to another. Some of the boxes we have stored can be likened to Pandora’s, filled with things I haven’t seen for ages that, uncovered once again, suddenly becoming seductive valuables that I can’t imagine parting with but have no real meaning or value in my life now, or that bring up times and places I may want to leave behind. I’m preparing for those – steeling my resolve to make choices to finally let these things go.

The best part, and the most fun, is envisioning the space that will be made for the “new”. Clearing away the debris and residue of our life will give us the latitude and spaciousness to allow new things to come in that will enliven and beautify our new digs. I’m already “acting as if” when I browse magazines or stores that have furniture and décor that I’d like to purchase for us. I’m putting things on Pinterest, clipping pictures, taking snapshots, and choosing wall colors to help envision our new surroundings.

I’m so grateful to Lana for sharing her take on moving and giving me another way to approach it. Like so many things in our lives, it’s a day by day shift that I now welcome since I know the other side will be provide lightness and newness that will refresh our life and lead us to what is next.

More to come.

STRETCH: Look at your material things, things you treasure. Think about how they came into your life and remember – remember the time, the place, the people – remember the feelings and emotions – the season and the reason. Take a little time to appreciate it all.

WEEKLY STRETCH – 7-20-17 ~ For The Gamblers

My Dad was a major risk-taker. He was an amazingly positive glass half-full guy. In fact, despite a very difficult childhood and a tremendous amount of disappointment during his lifetime, my Dad almost always saw the glass overflowing. He was one whose attitude was, “you don’t know until you try”, and he tried. He tired so many different things, took risks, rolled the dice and held his breath to see what he could accomplish. My Dad didn’t go to college, though I’m convinced if he had gone to law school he’d have made one hell of a lawyer. Instead, upon graduation from high school, he enlisted in the Army with the intention of making a career of the military. After following him around the world for eight years of their young marriage Mom wasn’t terribly happy with that idea, so he left army life as a Captain and found his way into the lumber business. Without going into detail, he had a variety of ups and downs, maybe more downs than ups. But he persevered in every way, and never wavered in his devotion to making a living for his family. He loved a challenge and didn’t shy away from coloring outside the lines when it came to trying new things in spite of my Mom’s conservative and fearful worldview. While in truth he was what we would call a workaholic, he was my greatest hero and one of my greatest teachers. I adored him – always will.

There is a scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where Indie must take a step into a seeming abyss to recover the Holy Grail and save his father’s life. An ancient story says that there is a bridge to the portal that will lead to the grail, but Indy can’t see it. At a critical time, he must make a choice to take the step and trust that the bridge will be there or allow his father to die. He chooses to take the step and lo and behold, the bridge was there all the time, only hidden from view. He recovers the grail and saves his father and they live happily ever after.

My Dad exemplified for me what it meant to take that step into the seeming abyss especially when the time came to make some of the most difficult choices of my life. Divorce, work life, single-parenting, relationships, and navigating life in general were all influenced by my father’s example of trusting that the bridge would be there. Not to say that I haven’t fallen, scraped my knees and elbows and needed to recover my equilibrium. But more times than not, taking that risky step has brought me to my life now, which is pretty wonderful.

My brother, Hal, is a bass player and singer and the other night, while attending a function where the band was performing, he sang an old song that was very special to both of us. It was particularly significant to us when the song was released back in 1974. We were both going through some painful growth at the time and the song had significant meaning for us then. Whenever I hear him sing it – and he sings it really well (no bias of course) – I cry. Listening to it last week inspired this posting. I realized, through the tears welling in my eyes, that it’s about my Dad and me and Hal and all that we have risked to bring us forward in our lives. In that moment, I felt the strong presence of my Dad telling us, “You did good, kids”.

To all of you risk-takers reading this, here are the beautiful words Dan Fogelberg wrote all those years ago that continue to remind me that there’s a place for me and all of us. If you don’t know this song, I encourage you to check it out on YouTube. Have some tissues ready.

There’s a Place in the World for a Gambler – Dan Fogelberg

There’s a place in the world
For a gambler
There’s a burden that only
He can bear
There’s a place in the world
For a gambler,
And he sees
Oh, yes he sees
And he sees
Oh, yes he sees
There’s a song in the heart
Of a woman
That only the truest of loves
Can release.
There’s a song in the heart
Of a woman.
Set it free
Oh, set it free
Set it free
Oh, set it free
Set it free
Oh, set it free.
There’s a light in the depths
Of your darkness
There’s a calm at the eye
Of every storm.
There’s a light in the depths
Of your darkness.
Let is shine
Oh, let it shine
Let is shine
Oh, let it shine
Let is shine
Oh, let it shine.
Let it Shine

STRETCH: Think about when you have taken a risk, or stepped out of your comfort zone and the growth that resulted. There’s a place for you and for the song you want to sing. Take another step.

WEEKLY STRETCH – 7-14-17 ~ The ABC’s Of Me

A dear friend just shared a Facebook post entitled “21 Things People Don’t Know You’re Doing Because You’re an Introvert”. I read it voraciously since I find that for the most part I do all the things listed and often feel very self-conscious about them. The article was validating and made me feel less alone. I’m also what is called an HSP – “highly sensitive person” – and an empath. These things often go together – being some version of an introvert, highly sensitive, and an empath. The triple threat so to speak. I’m that person and becoming more patient with myself as these types of articles come to light so that I can feel like less of an anomaly and more like a whole person who is not alone with this special temperamental triune. It’s a relief to know that others get the complexities of walking around in the skin I’m in.

So many times, I’ve felt like the odd one out, just wanting to stay quiet, not go running around filling every moment of every day with things to do, or places to be, or people to be around or better yet, to please. As a younger woman trying to figure out who I was, people often labeled me “over-sensitive”, “shy”, “not outgoing”, and other unflattering and judgmental descriptions. It’s not that I don’t love socializing. I do. It’s sort of up and down for me. Some days I feel gregarious and open, ready to play outdoors with others. Some days not so much. One day the vibration is high, another day it’s lower and another somewhere in the middle. Wintertime is especially challenging as I’ve shared often. During those months, the vibe is low and I feel the urge to hibernate, be still, and stay quiet. Generally, when it comes to situations involving large groups of people, noise, conversation, and socializing I prefer deep, meaningful conversations for the most part; and small groups, one on one relationships based on mutual interests and depth of feeling and experience, filled with laughter and humor of course. There are days when the thought of making small talk is so exhausting I’d rather just stay at home and read and I will choose to detach from the world. I love my alone time. And yet, I dearly love my friends and family and the time we spend together is so very precious to me. Sometimes the trick is finding ways to honor where I am and still make time and space for those I love.

An even bigger trick is the fact that my life often brings me to noisy crowded places. My husband is a musician. It goes with the territory. I love the music and especially our music family. It’s rare that I don’t look forward to dressing up for a gig and enjoying a night of rock and roll with people I love. And yet, when it comes to the part when the crowd has had enough to drink so that their lowered inhibitions have them dancing like crazy people and dragging others on the floor to do the same, I often head for the hills – looking for a place to hang along the fringe so that I can choose my time, if it comes, to step onto the dance floor with as much dignity as possible, on my terms.

I’ve reproached myself often for all my “rules of engagement” or as my husband Bob says, “the ABC’s of me”. But that’s the deal. I need to navigate my whereabouts emotionally and physically, assess where I am on my “triple threat” continuum and move accordingly. And, I need to be OK with that.

My work here is to make space and friendship with these temperamental variations, such as they are, and accept them as a loveable part of me instead of something to feel shame over or that I need to apologize for. I know in theory that self-acceptance is the key to making peace with this part of myself. And yet I still wonder if those around me can accept it and continue to love me without the judgement, spoken or unspoken (and when you’re an empath with strong intuition you can feel the unspoken judgement), and if I can love myself enough to accept these ABC’s of me fully. What I want to be able to say is, “This is me. Love me or leave me.”, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t share my fear that some would simply feel like it’s too much trouble and make the choice to leave. The fact is that it hasn’t happened yet that I know of, and for that I am so deeply grateful. There are probably some for whom it takes effort and patience to hang in there. And some understand it all and accept me with all the extra stuff that comes with the package.

What has become clear is that this is indeed a part of me that I cannot realistically change, part of my makeup, like my height or the color of my eyes. It may not be easy to manage, but that is exactly the task – to manage it rather than extinguish it. As difficult as it is, I know that those who truly see me and accept me will accept all of me as I am. And those who do not will eventually fall by the wayside and that will be OK in the long run. I do my best to manage my expectations of others based on who they are. It’s easy with some and less so with others, but it is my responsibility to see them and love them the way I hope they will me.

To those of you who share all or any part of the “triple threat”, I see you and I know how your day goes. Hang in there.

STRETCH: Take time to notice the qualities that make you unique and celebrate them. Look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I see you. I love you. I accept you.”

Travel Epilogue ~ 7-8-17


St. Bonaface Cathedral, Winnipeg, Canada, 7/17

Home again from our most recent voyage I am grateful to be safe and sound, snug in our little nest with Sophie. She certainly enjoyed her days with her human sister, brother and nephew and her furry nephews too. So grateful that she was loved and happy while we were away. We managed to survive a variety of travel challenges, somewhat the worse for wear, but more experienced for future travel. Wish those lessons had been a little easier, though.

I find my thoughts drifting hither and yon right now. So much has come into my life these past few months and I feel the urge to be still. And yet there is so much to do. My sixty-eighth birthday is in six weeks. Sixty-eight! I can barely type the words much less wrap my mind around that reality. In so many ways I feel like a young woman with my whole life ahead of me (though the mirror would belie that notion). I remember being in my thirties, making plans for my future, thinking I had all the time in the world to try this or that. I thought I might go back to school and become a graphic designer or a therapist. I had time to do that if I wanted to. I remember feeling like there was always going to be time for things I might have had to put off for one reason or another. Time was on my side then. More ahead than behind.

This week I was reminded of the fragility of life and the passage of time. On one hand it was deeply saddening holding space for dear ones who have lost a beloved family member. It reminded me poignantly of my own losses, specifically of my parents. I felt the depth of our friends’ sorrow and grief and couldn’t help but be reminded how it was for me and my family when we faced the same process of letting go and resolving my parent’s lifetime of worldly goods and possessions. It’s a dichotomy – we have possession of a lifetime of memories that bring us tremendous joy and yet break our hearts and bring us to floods of tears at the loss of those days and the people we love at the very same time. Such events bring on the melancholia that goes along with living a life that is full, and if we are lucky, long. And if it is long, one of its inevitable gifts will be navigating the losses that accompany lengthy time on the planet. Those of us who are older are now facing the departure of the elders, yes; but we are also facing the loss of friends and workmates and people like us, requiring a reality check that may feel a bit uncomfortable.

So I am reflecting even more on what is still on the table for me to do with my time here. It’s even more valuable with each passing day. I am resisting the urge to hurry up and “do” and the mentality of trying or striving to get it all done before it’s my turn to move on. Rather, I am choosing to step mindfully and consciously so as to touch those I love and those I encounter as gently and lovingly as I can. I am choosing to create beauty with my hands, with my brush, with my heart, with my words. I pray to leave behind a legacy of love and good work so that my memory is one that brings smiles, inspiration and laughter more than the inevitable sadness of loss. I know there is still time and I plan to use it well and with an active sense of humor about it.

It strikes me that I may need to go walking in nature, re-invent my meditation practice, stretch my body and still my mind and heart. I am in that place of reflection and will be asking my Guides to show me how best to step into each moment of each day so that my being may be a blessing. And as I do I hold in my heart the memory of all of our dear ones and the gifts they have left for us.