In Hot Water

broken-1294723_1280My lovely week off is coming to a close and reality returns to work tomorrow. It has been a great week; a nice balance between chores and leisure and what I hope for in retirement. However, there was one small hitch that caused me some anxiety. Our water heater quit working.

I enjoy a nice soak before bedtime. It’s very relaxing and it is nice to go to bed clean. Cold water is not what I had in mind.

Our water heater is only three years old, but has one of those fancy electronic controllers that decides when the water needs heated. It decided to go all stupid and shut itself off. So my Sweetie got to handle that chore and called the manufacturer. They gave him a list of service companies, and he found a guy who was able to arrive in two hours. He was timely and came prepared with a new controller box. As he was checking everything, he discovered a crack in the burner and had to go out and get a new part. He returned quickly, and before long, we heard the telltale sound of the water heater firing up. An hour later and I was blissfully standing in the shower with hot water spraying down. Relief.

As I was reveling in my bliss, I got to thinking how technology has changed home appliances and fixtures. Gone are the days of the furnaces with a burner and blower that lasted for decades. Electronics and their quirkiness routinely require service or replacement and seem to shorten the life of what they are housed in. Rather annoying. Then I thought about the cracked burner. Perhaps the errant controller sensed that all was not well and shut itself down. What seemed an annoyance could possibly have saved our home, if not our lives. You hear those horror stories of the water heater blowing up and shooting through the roof. The time spent dealing with the service call could have been time spent in the hospital.

So the next time some electronic device puts a hitch in my day, I’ll take a moment to be thankful that I’m not standing in hot water.

A Happy Space

I’m taking a week off from work. I have a lot of vacation time built up and I want to use some of it up before I retire in January. Plus, it’s great to get away from the stressful hustle. I chose to be home-bound for the rest and relaxation, and it is a sigh of relief. We’re hosting a neighborhood gathering tomorrow evening, and having a party Saturday afternoon with some friends. There is always a lot of prep for events, but I have plenty of time for it.

IMG_20190614_181516011 (2)I have several of these weeks throughout the summer. I am using them as practice for retirement. I knew that I needed some time away and I anticipated that it would be enjoyable, but certainly not at the level I am experiencing.

I am discovering an absolute true feeling of contentment.

IMG_20190614_181523173 (1)There are books, and articles, and videos, and podcasts, and so on, that speak of being happy. Do this, don’t do that, the list is goes on. Much of it is true, but it all comes back to how you feel inside. It is different for everyone. Sometimes the happiness is fleeting or short-lived. Such as that which comes from a thing, place or person. We all want the kind that stays with us for ever and ever. But what does it really mean?

It is how you feel at any moment, where you experience peace, contentment and relaxation. Your blood pressure drops, respiration becomes slower and deeper, worrisome thoughts seem to drift away, your gaze softens, and your senses relax. When I sit outside and look at my flower garden this happens. The colors, the shapes, the sheer beauty of the flowers overwhelm me. I become less aware of street noise and more aware of the tiny bees that roam from flower to flower. The chirp of birds. Perhaps one lands to take drink from the bird bath. Butterflies floating about. Time passes by without a thought.

I can begin to appreciate that the stress and striving brought me to this. That work and effort is important, because it brings safety and security, and purpose in serving. But yet, we must never lose sight of the need to fulfill our own passions and the necessity of self-care. Whether you are working or not, good health or bad, have many responsibilities or not, taking a few moments to find your happy space are as necessary as breathing.

Your soul will hug you if you do.

We Are Still Playing Barbie

Re-posted from October 9, 2017

08501960_01[1]Botox, collagen, fillers. Hair color, hair bleach, hair extensions. Waxing, tweezing, threading, plucking. Liposuction, face lifts, breast implants, ass lifts. (Ass lifts?!) It is a lot of work and expense being female.

I blame it on Barbie. Big boobs, tiny waist and those feet. Who has feet shaped like that anyway? It is really not Barbie’s fault. The shape of women has been something to fuss over for centuries.

I’m not against any cosmetic enhancements, only the overdoing of them. I have had my own share of treatments. And I did them because I wanted to feel better about myself, and they did just that. That should be the only reason you do these things – for You and You alone. Oh sure, we like having our friends and family tell us how great we look, but never, never, never should you invest the time or money in cosmetic enhancements just because someone else said you Needed it. If they cannot love you just as you are then maybe you do not need them in your life. However, it is worth looking at the core of this.

We too often attract people in our life who act as mirrors of our inner pain. If you consistently encounter people who do not love and care for you just as you are, then you might want to ask yourself if You love You. All the cosmetic enhancements in the world are not going to make you look better if you do not love yourself. Love your Sh*t and then your outer self will match your inner self and you might not need that boob job. Go get a massage instead. You’ll feel great and you won’t have to buy a bunch of new bras.

 

The Safe Zone

danger-851895_1920Do you ever find yourself feeling and acting overly-cautious about many things? “What am I going to do if the furnace goes out?” “What if I’m late for a deadline?” “What if a hailstorm destroys all my plants?” “What will happen if that car keeps following me too closely?” And then all these thoughts along with many more, generate lists of things to do and tasks to be completed as quickly as possible. Then you get stuck in an endless cycle of worry and doing, never giving yourself a break including the middle of the night panic.

Welcome to my world. Many of you are shaking your head while you are glancing at your to-do list. A whole bunch of you are like “WTF, get over it already”. And a whole lot of in-betweeners are just reading this to see what I’m writing about.

No, this really isn’t the way I like living my life. I’d like to be all Zen and not worry; just handle things if and when they occur. Being hyper-vigilant is not fun and it is exhausting. It is a difficult behavior pattern to break, and yes, it is a behavior pattern.

I recently read an article by Bethany Webster about being hyper-vigilant, over-achieving and anticipating problems. It all comes back to a lack of feeling safe. Bethany teaches about the Mother Wound; how it affects us and ways to heal it. Her website is http://www.motherwound.com. The Mother Wound is real, deeply rooted and particularly worse for women. Even if you had a wonderful mother, there are generational and gender wounds that are passed on. If you had a mother who was emotionally unavailable to you, then you were likely imprinted with the belief of never feeling safe.

Beneath the fear of never feeling safe, lies the core wound of trust. You learn quickly to be self-sufficient, never relying on anyone for support. If you couldn’t trust your mother, why could you trust anyone else? Your child brain can only envision danger ahead so you become highly sensitive and sensitized to your environment, reading others’ emotions with more skill than an NFL quarterback scanning the defense. You create your own “No Fly Zone” by carefully managing your surroundings so you can feel safe, secure and at peace. And raise holy h*ll if anyone moves anything out of place. Because you lack trust, you become an over-achiever and over-responsible because you expect others to fail you. You can do anything and everything and can make the Energizer Bunny give up. But do you ever take time to rest and relax?

Only when everything is done to your satisfaction, at least for the moment, or you are safe in your little nest. But even then “what if the electricity goes out?”

It takes a lot of work to change this behavior pattern. First, you have to face and feel the emotions that create the pattern and most people don’t want to go through this. Trust me, it is worth the pain. You need to feel this in order to accept that your mother wasn’t capable of being a mother. Seek professional help, even if you don’t trust them. That’s the point, right? Secondly, you must learn how to mother yourself. Rest when you are tired. Eat when you are hungry. And for God’s sakes, go pee when you have to go!

Force yourself to stay focused in the moment. Whatever is in the future will happen or not. If you focus on disaster, you might actually create it into being so why not focus on doing something happy and fun. Practice trusting others. Give them a small task to do and stay out of their way. If you are nutty about something, show them what you would like. Say “please, would you do this for me?” Only a total sh*thead would ignore you, and then maybe you need to clear them out of your environment. Talk about anticipating problems.

These days, with technology delivering things at lightning speed, the pressure is on to do everything all at once. Our inner wounds are easily triggered in this intense environment. When you are feeling especially anxious, stop and breathe. Give yourself a moment to assess whether something has to be done, if your anticipated worry will manifest or if you really are just tired and need to go sit in your safe zone.

Like I’m doing. Even if it’s writing this post.

Do You Remember?

pink-rose-in-rain-4205779_1920It is Memorial Day, the annual event to honor those who have passed on, particularly of the military. Memorial services are being held in many locations, some solemn, with flags and a lone bagpiper. Some more joyous and others even more somber. In any event, we are remembering those who have passed.

But what about those who are still living and have passed through your life? Friends, lovers, acquaintances? Spouses, significant others and even children. Memorial Day can be a trip down memory lane, with thoughts of “where are they now?” Such it is with human nature, life is a journey with many paths and many people. Too often, these missing and long gone folks left behind a scar or a bit of sadness. Only a few were able to leave behind the bright, shiny feeling of joy.

Whatever the circumstances, whether there is life or death, remember all of them with gratitude. Some people are with you for a reason, and some are with you for a season. Be thankful you knew them, because they helped you find room in your heart to allow someone else to fill the empty spaces.

Blessings to all on this remembrance day.

Rainy Days and Mondays

rain-84648_1920“Always get me down.” (The Carpenters, 1971) It’s been raining a lot, for the middle of May. Yes, I know some of you have been getting snow and I certainly don’t envy that. We plan on setting up our little pool next weekend and I’m wondering if we might get frostbite. Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be stormy, just a dandy way to start the work week. Sigh.

The weather is always volatile this time of year. The planet is making its bi-annual tilt from winter to summer (or the opposite for the southern hemisphere). I realize the tilt is an ongoing shift, but the wild and wacky weather makes it seem as though it is happening within a month. I guess I could liken it to riding down the road, doing 70, in a convertible and without a hat. Mother Nature’s convertible is a little larger and she likes to get a little “showy” with the lightning strikes. Reminding us just who is in charge. I am always grateful to get through Spring without too much of a spanking.

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The rain is certainly good for the garden. I’ve discovered that I really like growing flowers. Their beauty, of course, and just the riotous colors, shapes and sizes. With each bud, a surprise lies inside and you must wait patiently for it to reveal itself to you.

IMG_20190519_132612255 (1)We added to the perennial collection this weekend. A few things didn’t make it through the winter so they needed to be replaced. We also have a dead zone towards the front so instead of trying to suffer through another round, we put in some blocks and raised the bed. Naturally, it had to be filled immediately. I found this bright, candy red, small rosebush that called to me. I haven’t grown roses in, oh probably 15 years. I guessed that little bush was what I needed. The pots and the planters always get annuals and I change them up year-to-year. I could not resist the very fascinating fuschias even though the location might be a bit sunny for them.IMG_20190519_132640740 (1)

I am always excited when the buds appear. Flowers mean I made it through the winter and hot days are ahead. I love the laziness of a hot summer day. I love floating in our little pool. Dinner outside. Cocktails with friends. It’s sort of like recovery after a surgery. It just makes me feel good.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for giving us the rain so that I can appreciate the sun.

MotherFaker

I originally posted this article on October 21, 2017 and decided to re-post it for Mother’s Day.  First, I would like to honor all those really good moms and awesome dads I frequently encounter.  Their obvious love of and devotion to their children restores my faith that parenthood is good.  Many blessings and thanks to you.

Secondly, I would like to extend my compassion to all those who have struggled with mother wounds.  Whether you continue to put yourself in the line of fire, or like me, have cut off all contact, give yourself permission to feel the pain and anger.  There is nothing wrong with you.  Your feelings are real and they matter.

Whether you are a mother, want to be one, have a good relationship with your mother or have soul wounds, the first mother is the one that you are to yourself.  Nurture and love you and let the rest be what it will be.

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Read that title twice, didn’t you?  It might be a Freudian slip. . .

maskA MotherFaker is a mother who gave birth, but only pretended to be a mother.  Many, many of us had one, a mother that just couldn’t quite give us the nurturing and love that we needed.  We grew up scarred because of it, drifting in and out of relationships, marriages, jobs, homes, friendships, whatever it was that we tried to suck a little bit of love out of.  We attracted those people and situations as a mirror of our selves.  Maybe you still struggle with this.  Maybe we will never get over that abandoned and unwanted feeling.

It is possible, if you are willing to do the work.

Everyone says to forgive.  Yes, I know that is a stupid statement and you do not feel like you can ever condone your mother’s actions.  That is not the point of forgiveness.  You only want to neutralize your feelings so you don’t leave this stuck inside of you.  Your mother was not capable of being a mother to you.  It is NOTHING about YOU.  Maybe she had difficult circumstances in her life that caused her to shut down.  Maybe she had a MotherFaker and that was all she knew.  IT WAS NOTHING ABOUT YOU.  You have to find a way to let go of holding onto the energy so you can move on with your life and live the best you possible.  Does it really benefit you to be pissed about this?  Is that ever going to change the situation?  No.  It happened.  Your mother was not capable of love, but YOU ARE.

sad childStart by loving yourself.  Nurture the little girl inside you in all the ways that you did not get.  You will be surprised how much that helps to let go of your pain.  Start simply by asking yourself what you need: am I hungry, tired, thirsty, have to pee?  Honor those needs and then you will be able to ask yourself how you feel.  Whenever you feel crabby and out-of-sorts, start there.  Children of MotherFakers always put Her needs first and denied themselves.  Stop the crazy-making train and tend to you first.  Get into that practice and you will be surprised how your life changes and how differently people treat you.

And then you no longer have to fake being happy.

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere

IMG_20190505_132400079 (1)Alcoholism is a serious and debilitating disease that engulfs the mind, body and spirit. It can contribute to any number of health issues and can result in death. From my research, alcoholism can be a coping mechanism for deep, personal issues. It is a sad waste of a beautiful human life.

There is no doubt that drinking alcohol can be fun. A summer afternoon, an evening cocktail party, wine pairings, all are fun gatherings with friends. A cold beer after yard work. A “topping off” after the completion of a project. All reasons to offer a toast. But anything in excess is unhealthy for your well-being.

When you are super stressed, it is easy to reach for a cocktail to numb your nervous system. It may be helpful for the moment, but you’ll wake up in the middle of the night just as restless and edgy as you started. Instead take a walk, or engage in some other mild form of exercise. Meditate. Read a book. Work a puzzle. The idea behind stress relief is to focus your thoughts on something that relaxes you, which will help you do actions that relax your body.

Treat alcohol as a treat, and just because it’s five o-clock somewhere doesn’t mean it needs to be five o’clock every night.

Decaffeinated

coffee-791045_1920I am trying to stick with decaf coffee. Too much of the regular stuff tends to make me anxious, not a good thing for the anxiety prone. But there are days when you need a hit of jet fuel to give you momentum.

The last several weeks have been very hectic. At work, it is budget prep season and that takes a lot of time, thought and people cooperation. I coordinate the effort for the whole department so I have to make sure everything gets done on time. In the midst of that, there have been several long drawn-out audits. They have brought to the surface some issues that the entire organization has been neglecting. I hesitate to say that, because it is not that they were intentionally neglectful just some timing issues. Along with all that, there is the usual flurry of work and month end duties. There are many things for me to remember and be responsible for. I keep a list, but sometimes my mind just runs in hyperdrive, and on occasion, I kind of lose track where I’m at. Like last Friday morning, for example.

I was tired from the week so I thought I would treat myself to a Starbucks latte. I love them so they must be consumed in a limited quantity. So long about 6:15, I was waiting in the drive-thru line. I’m zoning out, listening to the radio and waiting for some movement in the cars in front of me. Finally, I inch forward and am next to the menu board. I glance at it briefly, already knowing what I want. I am totally in the zone. Then I hear a voice “if you would like to place an order, you will need to roll down your window”.  Sigh.  Apparently, I need to lay off the decaf for awhile.

I roll down my car window. “I’m sorry”, I say with a laugh, “I guess I really need some caffeine”.

This is surely a sign that I am taking life way too seriously and need some rest. As luck would have it, I planned a day off on Monday.

I plan on drinking lots of caffeine.

Easter-ly

easter-celebration-4006113_1920Brightly painted eggs. Floppy-eared bunnies. Elaborate hats. And the historical and religious significance of Jesus Christ rising from the dead.

The Northern Hemisphere has begun its rising from the dead of winter. The planet is slowly angling itself towards the sun and warming the Earth’s crust. Brilliant yellow daffodils, multiple colors of tulips and tiny purple hyacinths have poked their heads through the melting frost and announcing that warm weather is on its way.

The turning of the Earth shakes up the sky and brings with it spring storms. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, tornadoes can all appear within the space of a single day, oftentimes leaving behind some level of destruction in their wake. Spring is symbolic of renewing the dead, just as Christ rising from the dead is symbolic of our rebirth.

The cycle of life is a miraculous one, be it a single tiny flower or a human. All things must live and die, and as I truly believe, are reborn again. The Creator loves beauty and growth and experiencing everything so why not with our spirit also? We have only to look at a tiny purple hyacinth to appreciate, study and understand that this is the course of life. To move in an “Easter-ly” direction of rebirth.

What would you do-over if you had the choice? What new flower would you grow from your stem? Would it be a tiny purple hyacinth only showing its face in the spring? A long season of blooming? Or a stately oak tree lasting a lifetime? We have choices each day of our life so why not for many lives?

Whatever that may be, know that the Creator formed you out of love simply for you to experience that love. Be kind to each other and know that whatever choices someone makes is for their growth and learning even if you don’t agree.

For each of us moves in our own “Easter-ly” direction.