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Archive for May, 2012

Vision Boards

I’ve been journaling all of my life.  This is probably of no surprise to you.  I write to make sense of things.  When I was younger, I had a lot to try to make sense of so I wrote in my journal most every day.  The pages were filled with longings, heartaches over friends and boy troubles, and ponderings as to what the rest of my life would hold.  I would love to say that things have changed tremendously.   However, there is a huge difference between the journals I once kept and the ones that I keep today.

                In those old bound books, in front of and behind the pages that were dated and furiously scribbled, I cut pictures out of magazines and covered the empty spaces of the first and last pages with pictures and sayings.  They were illustrations that I had found in my Jane magazines, poetry that spoke to me from the pages of Seventeen magazines.    I filled every blank space with things that spoke to my heart, things that made sense when nothing else really did.  I stopped cutting and pasting in my journals about fifteen years ago.

                And then….I ran across something in a more adult magazine recently about Vision Boards.  It talked about the paper collages that you made as a teen (aha! So I wasn’t the only one) and how they were feverishly personal manifestations of what you loved.  This article said that the Vision Board was the grown-up alternative and could be just as passionate, but this time with more intention.

                So I began to cut.  I found things in my Yoga Journals, in my O Magazine, sometimes even in Self or the New Yorker.  And I took my kitchen shears and I excised them and put them aside.  Then, I visited an aisle in Target which is far from familiar to me—the School Projects/Scrapbooking aisle.  It was there that I found a poster board rimmed with the image of blue clouds.  It was on clearance for $0.79.  Score.  Then I bought a glue stick that promised to be “Xtreme” for all of my most intense school projects.

                This morning, I spread out a space on my floor and grabbed my pile of clippings.  I let the pieces of paper tell me where they wanted to go.  I hadn’t remembered cutting out a picture of clouds against a blue sky with the puffy white letters spelling “OK.”  I made that my centerpiece.  I took a large picture of an old door in a prairie field illustrated with the saying “Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you…This turning towards what deeply serves you.”  That went prominently in the corner.

                There is a picture of a tattooed yogi.  There is a little square with only the words “I have time to fix this.”  There is a picture of a small heart being dropped into a piggy bank.  There is a woman in a rowboat with a peaceful look on her face.  Underneath it says Independent Woman.

                I took my Vision Board, uncompleted but full nonetheless and tacked it above my creative space in my study.  I will continue to fill it with gentle reminders.  I will look upon those images for inspiration.  I shall use them to come back to my intention.  Not bad for the first art project that I’ve done since middle school.

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Unlimited Texting

I don’t know how it happened but it appears that I have turned in to the type of person who requires an unlimited texting plan on my cell phone.  Let’s keep in mind my ripe old age of 33.  When I was in high school, cell phones were just coming into existence.  My father had one that came in a bag, a receiver attached to a plastic box that had to be plugged into a car’s cigarette lighter.  He handed it to me like a suitcase whenever I went on any road trips.  In college, my phone weighed close to five pounds and was to be used for emergencies only.  And I had roaming…remember roaming?

                So things have changed…this I know in so many ways.  And I now have a phone that allows me to communicate in a multitude of ways—e-mailing, Facebooking, texting and the ever-essential actual calling.  It’s even got this cool feature that allows me to check my usage of said phone.  I was shocked the other day to see that I was about to exceed my 1,000 texts/month plan at only about a third of the way through my billing cycle.  Who am I?? I thought to myself.

                I gave myself a few days to be a curmudgeonly 33-year-old.   I bemoaned the idea of what technology has done to our abilities to communicate to each other as human beings.  When was the last time that you wrote someone an actual letter?  What’s wrong with just picking up the phone and calling someone?  Why on earth would you ever need to send and receive more than 1,000 texts a month?

                Then, today, I started thinking about the last two weeks of mine.  They’ve been tough.  And the people around me are aware of that.  So they send texts saying that they are thinking of me, that they love me, that I will get through this and come out stronger on the other end.  And with each ping of the phone letting me know that a message has been received, pain is slowly but surely alleviated.

                We lead busy lives and a phone call isn’t always possible.  Some people find it hard to speak words of comfort.  And so they send a written message over the lines.  It’s just a way to say “I’m here, though I’m not right beside you, I am here, you are in my thoughts, your pain is my pain and your life is important to me.”

                And that, my friends, is a gift that technology has given us.  Because without it, who knows how many phones would go unringing, how many thoughts left unsaid, how many friendships drifted away due to time and distance.  Now, with the tap of fingers, we can give a friend a quick laugh on their Monday workday.  We can provide comfort in times when nothing else can be done.  We can let someone know that we are thinking of them, just because, and give them the lift knowing that they are being thought of.

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Yesterday in yoga, we focused on hip opening exercises. After a good practice, we reclined into our final resting pose—feet together, knees out, arms out to the side. I started to get a little emotional and so rather than wasting a good yoga session by diving into a black hole, I decided to use my breath to deal. As I inhaled, I spoke to myself words like happiness and opportunity and new beginnings. With each exhale, I pushed out bitterness, anger…regret. Steady breathing, tears slipping out of the corners of my eyes.

We returned to our seated position and the instructor informed us that the hips were the home of the chakra that contained emotion; and that in opening our hips, we were opening ourselves to those emotions. In other words, I should have seen in coming.

 But the trick, she said, was to acknowledge these emotions and then let….them…go. Turns out I’m getting pretty good at this yogi thing.

My mind is a host of varying swinging emotions these days. And each of them have their place…it’s just learning where to put them. I picture moving them around like giant puzzle pieces in my body, giving them a place, not calling them good or bad, but still giving them a home.

“It is what it is” is one of my least favorite expressions. I feel like people say it when they have nothing else to really say. But I guess it really is what it is. Extreme happiness is just that, until something comes crashing in. Extreme anger is just that until you find yourself over it, even if it’s just a little bit. Feelings of loss someday release their grip on your heart by the slightest little squeeze. But until then, those things ARE and they are yours to acknowledge.

So, go forth my friends, whether you find this by opening your hips and accessing chakras…or rather the next time you say “It is what it is.” Own your emotions, don’t call them names—just call them yours. Work out that jigsaw puzzle, knowing that the shapes might constantly change. The beauty lies in that constantly shifting picture.

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Dear Maggie

Dear Maggie,

Well, no one can say that you were the most well behaved dog. Remember that time that you destroyed a tube of yellow paint and then tried to look innocent, unaware that your fur was covered in yellow, pinning you as the culprit? Remember that time you amazed us all by unscrewing a glass jar with your teeth so that you could eat about a pound of salted peanuts? You looked so ashamed at yourself for doing so…it was the same look you had after you ate half a pound cake, a bag of potato chips, a package of chocolate cake mix….oh, the list goes on.

And all those poor dogs that you attacked…for no other reason than maybe that they looked at you wrong. Some of them stood their ground against you. Then, there was that poor little Cavalier King Charles who you tried to eat in the middle of a busy street fair. Man, that was embarrassing. You got kicked out of a doggie day care facility and you might have only graduated from puppy school because they had a No Doggie Left Behind policy. It wasn’t your fault that the Great Dane’s owner brought fried chicken as a reward treat. I would’ve gone after him too.

 Whew, were you an expensive dog too. I worked my butt off waitressing to pay for not one, but two ACL surgeries. Dogs can have torn ACLs?, people would ask me. Oh yes, yes they can. There was one cancer scare when you were younger, when it turned out that the vet lab mixed up the results. You were safe that time. And then there was a rare disease that left you unable to control your bladder and wearing doggie diapers. The good news was that we found a pill to cure it. The bad news was that it cost $3 a day. When you got your diagnosis of bone cancer a few months ago, I thought that would be your final blow to my credit card. Oh, but no, first there was minor surgery to repair a hematoma on your ear.

But, oh Maggie, you were the best dog that a girl could ever ask for. I had no idea when I adopted you, at eight weeks old, that you would be such a huge part of my life for the next eleven years. You were only supposed to be fifty pounds. You topped out at eighty. I went from being able to carry you in one arm to barely being able to control you on a leash. I had no idea what my life was missing until you snuck in to fill that void.

 

Your soft brown head has provided a place for me to nuzzle, a place for my tears to fall when they have no place else to go. Seeing you smile that ridiculous wide grin of yours has let me know that everything is going to be OK. Those brown eyes of yours speak volumes of the wisdom that you hold. And though you can’t actually speak (except of course, when the world ‘squirrel’ is mentioned), you have told me plenty. And now, you are telling me that it’s time to let go.

 I wonder how I am supposed to walk in my door without seeing the furious pounding of your Tail of Terror. I wonder how I am going to sleep through the night without hearing your ridiculously loud snore. I wonder if I am ever going to find a belly as soft as yours to pet. Maggie, I am terrified. Maggie, I knew this day would come and I am still not ready.

I will spread your ashes in the mountains and in the ocean, two places that we roamed together. And I know that you will continue to roam. We’ve been quite the team, Maggie. People say how lucky you were to have me as your owner…..but I was the lucky one. You were a special dog, an old soul and everyone that has ever met you has fallen under your spell.

Just behave when you get to those pearly gates Maggie. Because I like to imagine that what awaits you are old friends, fields full of squirrels and stretches of sand filled with sandpipers. And I can picture you looking back to me for reassurance…and it kills me that I won’t be there. But keep running, because I know that somehow our spirits will always find each other.

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Lifting the Veil

Confession:I’ve been skirting the issue a bit on this blog. It’s been a place where I post about my self-discovery, my challenges, my bad days, my good days. And I’ve been so truthful. All of these emotions that I put on this page are gut-wrenchingly real. At least they are real to me. But while I’ve told you about all of these trees, I’ve never told you about this forest.

And the story, all of it, is that I am a woman going through a divorce; decided to separate, gone our different ways, however you want to say it. And that, my friends, well, it sucks. And while I will spare you the specifics, because to be honest, there are days when they don’t even make sense to me, I will tell you that I am going through a process of grieving. I have left a home that I lived in for eight years, and the man that I loved while I was there. Seven states and thousands of miles away is a life that I worked so hard to create and a pile of paperwork that represents its’ end.

My husband? Ex? Soon-to-be ex? Well, he would hate the fact that I am putting this on my blog. He might say that it was too personal and no one else’s business. And that was always one of our big differences. It’s not in my nature to hide what I am feeling from those around me. Because I am a writer and that’s what we do. We put down our feelings in hopes that others may understand. And in that process, we may even start to understand ourselves a bit more.

 On this blog, you will continue to read stories of struggle. There are stages of grief and recovery that I am facing and I am trying to own up to them all. One day soon, you will read stories of triumph. So bear with me.

The name of this post, Lifting the Veil, comes from the title of a paper that I wrote for my Creative Non Fiction class this semester. The professor asked us to write a paper detailing how Creative Non-Fiction was different from Fiction and my paper was about how in fiction, one wrote about what they knew but they could hide behind a veil where all was not exactly true. And in non-fiction, this veil is lifted. A writer tells their truth and in doing so, provides a bit of an answer for themselves and possibly for others. And this, my friends, is me lifting the veil.

You, my love, are an emotional fortress

And I will finally stop coming to your door with my battle rams

So go ahead, fly your flag

 Well done with this one

 I shall retreat and toss down my weapons

You might watch me from that top window

 Go ahead, dear, say your goodbyes

The kingdom is all yours again

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