Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dear Workaholistic-Thinking,

How many of you grew up with a workaholic for a parent?  How many of you were shown over and over and over again that your stuff, or even family stuff was secondary to the need to excel at work?

It just dawned on me how deeply embedded that belief is in me.  Here I've been thinking that because I don't work at a traditional job, and because I don't work at my non traditional work all the time that I couldn't possibly be mistaken for a workaholic...certainly no one would ever label me with that word.

Like everything else, though, being a workaholic starts in the mind.  Perfectionism, ambition, drive, passion, dedication...those are all words I've used that kept me from understanding how the early lesson of "work hard, because play is for failures" has shaped the way I think about my purpose, my calling, my family, and how I live my day to day life.

I learned that rest = laziness, unless you've worked yourself to the bone, and now cannot get out of bed for 24 hours.

I learned that letting work go until tomorrow was equivalent to saying no to God's blessings.

I learned that if you have a calling, it should take precedence over every other thing in your life, or even if it's not your comes first.

Work came before school plays, concerts, birthdays, holidays, and family meals.  It came before schoolwork, play, downtime, and it certainly was a higher priority than personal health.

This, among other things, bred an environment of manic stress.  It was almost constant.

It also bred a bunch of "hard little workers."

I left my home of origin with a lot to sort out.  This work issue, it wasn't so urgent.

I struggled with work, though.  I struggled to stay in one job, opting to hop from place to place.  Just as they were about to promote me, I'd quit, tell myself I was bored and find something else.  Honestly, I was just afraid of getting trapped in what felt like the food/retail management hole.  I wanted something different.  I wanted to hitch my wagon to a star, but I couldn't reach the stars.  I knew I must not be working hard enough.

So I went to work on myself.

The idea that life could flow easily never occurred to me.  The idea that the right star would float my way just as soon as I allowed Life to flow through me wasn't even on the register.  The idea that all of the pain and trouble would wash its own way out if I were to trust seemed like some quack's flaky "solution" to life's problems.  Yeah.  Right.

Proactive.  That was what I needed to be.

And maybe I did.

Maybe I had to take life by the horns so I could get to a place where I could believe the guiding voice inside without analysis or angst.

Mostly, I think I was just exploring what it feels like to be in control.  All the healing, though, happened when I wasn't looking, and in ways I never expected.

As I was healing, my intuition began to take over.  Do this, it would say, and when I didn't, I could feel the impact, and when I did....bliss.  I began to let go here and there.  I began to trust when Life said, "You don't have to be perfect.  Take the kids through the drive-thru.  It's okay to make yourself comfortable.  Don't strain your mind," as much as I trusted directions like, "This woman will guide you through this.  You can handle this now.  Feed your soul.  Go to the woods.  Reach out to this person.  Start that book.  Let go of your old life, leaving everything and everyone that cannot or will not support your new way of being." 

Ever so slowly, I have learned to listen, trust, and act in line with my intuition.  It never, ever leads me astray.
It is the star I've hitched my wagon to.

Today, it is teaching me, that no matter how important I feel the work is that I'm working on, about a bazillion things are more important than it is.  My well-being, tickle time, sunshine, inner peace, my family and home of creation, learning, making space for goes on and on.  I love the work that was laid out before me.  It's intense, and it is mine, but it is not all encompassing, and it will happen in its good time.

The real "work" is me, and it is not the work of my childhood.  It is not grave, demanding, or worth starving for.

It's the work of nourishment.  It is flow and allowance.  It's the tending of the Joy Garden.  It's the stirring of the Hearth.  It's the love of Mama Resource.  It's the building of our potential, and it is allowed to be both passive and active.  It is Intention and Trust.  

It's an ear to listen and a heart to follow.  

The rest is not worth being urgent about, because the rest will happen naturally.  Your calling, or your Life's work flows naturally from you when you are kindling the Hearth with loving compassion for yourself.

 All of those old beliefs seem so flimsy next to these new truths.  I'm laying them to rest with profound gratitude...I've come this far with them after all.  It's just that, I've found a way that is better for the life I'm creating right now.  So, workaholistic-thinking, thank you, and...dissolve in peace.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Rolls and Rumbles

Sometimes the only thing that seems appropriate is a thunderstorm.  We are experiencing just such a thing right now up here in our hilly region of Michigan.

We used to live in Ohio...the flat part of Ohio that is.  The first storm we experienced up here was more than a little unsettling.  The thunder doesn't clap and boom and explode the way it does when you live on flat land.  It rolls.  Rolling thunder.  It starts in as a low growl and slowly rolls up and over itself until the undertow draws it back to the steady drone that tends to make itself our soundtrack for entire nights once it shows up.

I woke to its menacing vibration a month or so after we moved here.  I'd never heard rolling thunder before.  I woke Oliver up.

"What is that noise?" I asked him.

He jolts awake and grabs the bat assuming his "do not fuck with my family" persona.  I always feel safe when Oliver is around.

We stay silent and listen to the rumble.  We wonder: Tornado?

No, it's not a tornado.  We listen to the rise and fall, the auditory sister of the lake's waves only miles away.

As we slowly began to accept that this was thunder here, our new thunder, Oliver drifted off to sleep.  I lay awake, not sleeping well for the rest of the night.  I kept waiting for the thunder to spend itself with a soul wrenching crash.  I kept waiting for the storm to wage its fury on us, but instead it rolled on and on and on; not gentle by any means, but never giving over to the rage to which I was accustomed.

All that night I lay feeling dissatisfied, smolderingly angry, really.  Eventually the thunder dissolved away as the storms here seem to do.  It lacked closure, like the storm hadn't confronted itself or the cycle it was a part of.  It just sort of kept pace.  I wouldn't accept it.  It was a calculated, tip-toeing storm, and I did not want to be near it.  Just rage and get it over with, I thought.


Tonight, I didn't notice that the thunder was rolling until I started writing about it.  This rolling thunder has woven it's way into my fabric of being.  It has taught me that, in fact, it is not disingenuously calculated, rather it is steady, it does not tip-toe, it simply has mastered the art of allowing.

The ebb and flow is an aspect of living.  There is no getting around it, and floating amongst the waves is not weak.  There can be a time for rage, for crashing and banging and great big releasing, but there is no shame in allowing a slow steady, anchored release.  They are equally valid methods of weathering those periods when different aspects of ourselves are charged in opposing ways creating a storm within.  One is quick, fierce, striking, and frightening; the other is slow, measured, and utterly painful to bear--like childbirth.   We need both.  Or at least I do.

For the last year, I have spent intimate time with the rolling thunder that threatened to shake me right off  of my foundation.  The steady rumble lasted so long that, in fact, the house of cards other people built for me came crashing down bringing me right with it.  Fortunately, I've been doing my own building these past years.  Just as soon as I stopped trying to save the old, useless dollhouse, I leaned into trusting that there was something real for me already in place and allowed the cards to fall, and then....well, it was like magic.  Painful magic.

Every card has a face, a memory, or an object stamped on it.  Some have been excruciating to send to the compost heap, and that's not drama talking.  With every card that fell, especially those big, difficult ones, I could see more clearly what I'd been building for myself.  Four months ago, I thought I was walking on the edge of losing everything I've worked for, i.e. my sanity.  Now I know that I simply needed to take time to let go of everything else.  I was not prepared to rage last year at this time, or even four months ago.  I needed the steady shaking apart of the shelter house that had been stunting my growth and blocking my vision, all while charming me with the empty promise of safety from all the things that frighten me.

For the last three weeks, though, I have raged against the ugliest, most difficult parts of that card house.

Think primal roar.  And devastating grief.  Finally, the bare bones of emotion that I've been wrestling with for a long while.  Cycle those two endlessly, and that has been my month of April.

The perfect recipe for a rip-roaring storm.


And you know what happened after I wrote this last night?  A big bang crashing Ohio style thunder storm, and a whole lot of release.

Who would have thought?

Anyone else getting shaken up out there?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Poets Gifts

 "Something we were withholding made us weak
   Until we found that it was ourselves
   We were withholding from our land of living
   And forthwith found salvation in surrender."
                              -Robert Frost, The Gift Outright


                               >>to the place I inhabit right now<<

It's a good place. 

I got here.  I'll get there, too.   


whispered announcements are juicier

I thought about not actually posting this, but I wanted to at least keep the ladies who have shared themselves with this project posted on what I've been doing with their stories.  They were so brave in putting themselves out there for others.  I can follow their lead and be brave in letting people know what my plans are. 

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, and magic in it. Begin it now." ~ Goethe
It's one of my favorite quotes.  Beginning things isn't usually difficult for me, but sharing what I'm doing is.  I'm a fox.  A natural blender inner.  I know how to go in cognito with what's really going on for me, but I need to dip my toe in the pool of being more transparant with my work.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You're Invited

So about those support calls!  Let's start next Tuesday evening at 8 pm Eastern time.  For this first conversation, I'd like to talk abuse and domestic violence.  Our histories of experiencing or witnessing it, and what we've done to heal from those experiences.  Everyone is welcome.

Where:  Wherever you're comfortable with phone in hand.
When: Tueday, May 1; 8:00 pm Eastern time
What:  Support call and discussion of experiencing and healing from abuse and domestic violence

Be sure to bring lots of loving-compassion and tolerance for those who's experience may have led them to different ideas and beliefs than those you hold dear!

If you are interested in joining the conversation, please contact me either through email (on my profile page) or here, on Facebook.  Little Hearth has a brand new little page over there.  I'll pm or email you the number to access the call. 

Looking forward to hearing from you!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Climbing the Stairs

Two days ago, I hit a low. I had a winter low, too, a couple of months ago. That low was inspired by the realization of the big dark fear I'd been carrying around with me all my life. This low was inspired by the realization that I was still participating in an abusive relationship.

Part of the project I'm working on involves me writing about my personally history with abuse. I've always considered myself a witness of abuse rather than an abused person. As far as I was concerned, my personal experience of direct abuse amounted to a handful of occurences where things had gotten out of control, or I had butted my nose into other people's business, then shared the burden of being abused for the evening.

As I began to write my story, I saw the accumulated events together in one place for the first time. Oliver would read through it and say, "What about this time, or that thing that happened?" I would cringe and say, yes, that needs to be included, too.

It got to the point that, even though I'd been working steadily for months on this project, taking care to nurture myself through the difficult material I was immersing myself in, I'd sit down to work and feel immediately ill. My muscles would cramp, my stomach would knot, and my mind would not allow me transmute my memories through my fingers and onto the page. My whole self was in resistance mode.

For three weeks this went on. I'd squeeze out a few paragraphs and then collapse in a heap of exhaustion unable to cry, unable to think. Then Easter happened. It was like the time that my high school sweetheart finally slammed me up against the wall shouting in my face. It took an amount of violence at the time for me to see that I was in a terrible relationship. While there was no physical violence over this past weekend, there was undeniable evidence--which still took me a few days to acknowledge--that this relationship that I didn't know how to live without was indeed directly abusive, and always had been.

That realization catapulted me into about 24 hours of depression, which I am no stranger to. I feel so deep and so suddenly that I could not even remember my usual tools to wake back up to my life. I actually had to ask Oliver to remind me how I best heal during this moments.

I could sense that it wouldn't last long if I just surrendered to the grief, because that's what it was. Just grief. Grief for the relationship that had to end, just like that, once I finally allowed myself to see the true nature of it. Grief for the last little bit of innocence that I carried around in reference to that relationship. Grief for myself and all the shit I've trudged through all this time, while trying to salvage what hope there was left for a semblance of normalcy and real love.

This morning I looked in the mirror and told myself that I don't have to worry anymore, because I won't let anyone hurt me that way again, and that I really and truly am at long last safe and secure, both within myself and in my surroundings.

Since Wednesday's plummet to the dark, damp basement of my psyche, I've been methodically climbing the stairs back up to ground level, and with each step I climb I see myself a little more clearly. I see what I'm worthy of, and capable of. I grow more firm in my resolve to keep going with this work, and I grow more sure of the truth that I'll figure it all out. Everything I'm not sure of right now...I'll figure it out.

I am releasing my need for perfection. I am redefining humility. I am acknowledging the rage that is splitting me at the seams.

Mostly right now, this moment, I am grateful for the presence of the stairs. They were not always there, and they did not magically appear. They are strong, sturdy wooden stairs, built by me during the last ten years of trying to get a grip. Once upon a time, the stairs were not there, and I stayed in the deep darkness for a long, long time until I pooled my resources, picked up a hammer, and got to work, building my way out.

Even as recently as last month I was beating myself up for my lack of productivity over the past decade. All I'd done was produce two human beings and heal myself from a childhood of abuse. I didn't see anything worthwhile that had come from that.

Until I fell face first into that deep dark space, and clammered around until I grasped my salvation. Sturdy stairs of wood and nails built to last a life time, right there where I left them.

Thank you, younger me, for having the presence of mind to start building your way out. It was very well done.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The In-Between

My old way died today. I'd been resisting it, though I knew it was coming. Of course it would happen right after Easter.

I've been working slowly, but dilligently on what I forsaw as the the most difficult of portion of my project, hitting walls every time I sat down to write.

Last night I uncovered the why behind the walls during a long, teary conversation with Oliver.

My project involves domestic violence awareness.

I had not acknowledged the ongoing verbal abuse I've been expreiencing these last ten years, and even into last weekend.

Before then, I acknowledged it,but last weekend? Am I not trying to show people the way out? The way of prevention?

I did not even see it in my own life. How discouraging.

Today, I wrote about the ongoing struggle I have with my relationship with abuse. It is difficult to acknowledge that I have a relationship with abuse. One that I avail myself to. I am one decision away from cutting that portion of my life off forever, and I find myself questioning if I can do that--if it is right.

Let me repeat that. I am questioning if I am capable of removing myself from abuse, and if it is the right thing to do. I pity my abuser. He is weak, sad, and sick. I am angry with myself.

I recognized my own behavior parralleling the behavior of a victim of abuse before I recognized his behavior as abusive. In fact, I needed Oliver's timely insight to help unlock my ability to even see that this man was verbally assaulting me. It is a constant attack on the spirit.

And I continue to lay the blame on myself.

This is the behavior of a victim of abuse.

But I don't want to be a victim. I see that I made myself available for too long. There is only one thing left to do.

About a month ago, I was talking with a collaborator on the project about how the public minimizes the impact the abuser has on the abused, and just how difficult it is for abused peoples to get away from there abusers, to stay away, and then to not be victimized again.

Entering into this project has led me down into the belly of my discomfort. It has asked me to light a fire there, and do what I've avoided all these years. Cut out the cancer.

Why is that so hard?

It's not in my nature to kill things. Even ugly, corrupting, destructive things. It's dirty business. I'll confront and be dramatic and basically do anything to make the situation livable without actually killing the source of the problem. I've expended an incredible amount of energy trying to keep the situation livable. Why? Fear...of what comes next, of hurting others....and guilt.

It's not sustainable, though, and today I ran out of fuel.

I don't know what comes next, all I know is that the old way has to be over now. I'm in the in-between, and that feels dark, scary, like death. I've been here before. Each time just before a new breakthrough, each bringing me a little closer to liberation, but this time is different, and I don't know how long it will last.

I know that my desire to embrace what is on the other side of this: allowing the parts of my identity that I've been afraid of to surface, and to retire the old way of thought and function is stronger now than my fear or laying old connection to rest.

Right now I'm in a space of acknowledging what's dying. It's a tunnel to walk through. I've walked it before. I am between cycles, still terrified of the repercussions of going ahead with what lies ahead of me.

This needs to end today, though. Any doubt I may have about my ability to see this through comes from what he taught me about myself which has nothing to do with the reality of my capabilities and strength. It will never be any different.

How did it take me ten years to get here?