Saturday, March 31, 2007


I’m not sure how to title this but I thought perhaps I should post something a little more upbeat than my last post. My only excuse for that one is that I came back here, started to relax into the calm and peace and happiness of being HERE and when I got those calls from back in New Jersey I felt as if I was about to be dragged back and overwhelmed again.

I gave a workshop this morning about spirituality and writing and found myself focusing on one of the questions I asked the students to consider. It had to do with looking at a challenge and seeing the blessings inherent in the situation. And it reminded me of the ones inherent in mine.

----I was able to see my son and my friend with breast cancer and another friend.
----I was able to recognize and let go of the need to always be the rescuer.
----I was able to see the degree to which my son’s behavior has spun out of control. I have a chance to catch my breath, to begin to plan for my next visit with my son in a couple of months so that perhaps it will go more smoothly.
----I was able to begin to rewrite certain relationships in my life and old patterns of interacting with people.
-----I was able to perceive the respect and kindness being offered me when I would not have expected it.
----I flew on an airline I have not flown on before and discovered that I liked it a great deal.
----I came back with a renewed appreciation for what I have managed to create in my life and the rightness of certain past decisions—including getting divorced—both for myself and for those I care about.
----I’ve been given a chance to see things that may come up in the future and therefore time to begin to plan for them.
----I’ve discovered that even in the midst of chaos I can create moments of calm, even when I’m surrounded by serious problems I can find moments of joy. And there were several moments/experiences that felt as if the universe was giving me a hug.
----I have been reminded that we do not have to stay trapped by old assumptions and new ways of doing things can be good.
----I discovered that I could go against the advice of dear friends and discover that I was right to do so—that my instincts can be trusted—that I do know what I’m doing.
----I can CHOOSE. Maybe that’s the most important one of all. I can CHOOSE whether to do something or not instead of simply reacting and playing out old patterns. I can CHOOSE to set limits. I can CHOOSE to love someone AND choose not to be enmeshed in that person’s chaos and/or world image—both at the same time.

Am I happy about the situation back in New Jersey? No. I’m sad more than anything else that matters have come to this point. I’m sad that it may get worse before it gets better. At the same time, that may be exactly what needs to happen. For each person involved, this is a chance to learn something important, a chance to take a new direction so that all our lives become better and happier. Whatever happens, I know that I am moving forward and this whole situation, as awful as it seems, is a blessing and an opportunity to grow.

Sending blessings (preferably gentler and happier ones than mine this week) and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Critical Time

This is the critical time. I spent today relaxing, back home again, catching up on things and thinking what a difference it makes to be HERE, peaceful and calm and happy.

And then the call came. Chaos back THERE. What should they do? Disaster. Maybe. No one’s sure. Tell us what we should do, they ask.

I answer calmly. I don’t have enough information to know and I’m HERE, it’s not in my hands. Suggest questions to be asked, steps to be taken. Not offering to solve it all again. Not offering to jump on another plane and go back to rescue them. Again. Even if I wanted to I can’t. I have obligations here. is hard to do this, to stand firm. To let people I have loved so deeply resolve their own crisis—if they can. To watch it all fall apart if they can’t.

Knowing that if I go back I drown—and disaster is only postponed a little longer. Knowing that the chaos is because of choices they make and have made. Knowing they may not be capable of changing and if they can’t it will all fall apart.

Tonight I have no answers, only a profound grief that it has come to this. It is no satisfaction to know that I was right in what I tried to tell them—for years and years.

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Old Dreams, New Dreams

One of the difficult things is being in the house where I had so many dreams when I was married. When I first moved in, anyway. By the time I left, those dreams were long shattered. Still, it hurts to see the house as it is now and even the garden gone—buried under weeds and tall grass.

It is difficult, too, seeing my son as he is now and remembering both my dreams and my fears for him when he was born and we found out he had Down syndrome. I see in his behavior echoes of his father. And I see a distinct personality all his own. I ache that I cannot make the world right for him— or him for the world. I ache that there are no magic answers, that I cannot create miracles to make his path easier.

But I cannot. He is turning 30 soon and I know that I cannot change what is.

I go back home tomorrow. There is both relief and fear and worry in leaving now. There is frustration, too. Not just because of the situation with my son, but because there were friends I hoped to see and cannot this time. Again. Too much time, too much energy spent just trying to cope with what had to be done and schedules that just couldn’t mesh with mine.

There is nothing easy about coming face to face with the loss of hopes and dreams once held so dear.

At the same time, even through the sadness I feel, there is profound gratitude that I am visiting and not trapped in the chaos here—as I once was. There is profound gratitude that even in this short visit I have begun rewriting relationships that were not working well. There is relief in knowing I go back to a place I love with people waiting who clearly value me.

There is more than a little pride, too, in having faced these fears, in having found myself in conversations that echoed past conversations and been able—this time!—to sidestep the role laid out for me and suggest better ones for all of us. There is comfort in knowing I have not acted out of anger or revenge or pettiness.

There is comfort in knowing that NOW I value my dreams and needs and hopes and strengths. Now I can walk into situations that would have intimidated me a few years ago and know I can handle them. There is pleasure in seeing and hearing respect from people and realizing that a few years ago I would not have perceived that respect even if it had been there.

I tell you all of this, clumsily fumbling for the right words to convey the depth of what I feel because I know that so many of you out there may feel as trapped as I once did and believe there is no way out, no real chance for change. I want somehow to share with you that there is always hope and that profound changes can take place. I want to somehow let you see that one doesn’t have to be afraid of the emotions that can accompany profound changes—that with the sadness can be very real joy as well.

As difficult as this week has been—and I don’t know how to put into words all the shades of significance this journey has had for me—I am so glad I made it. I am so grateful for the challenges that helped me to see my strengths and that (some) relationships can be rewritten and that yet again I am finding people may perceive me far more favorably than I expect. (I have been deep in the heart, after all, of my ex-husband’s territory—social, religious, and geographic.)

I know that until my plane takes off late tomorrow afternoon a part of me will whisper I should stay longer. Another, wiser part will remind me of what good—for all of us—may yet come out of my having to leave.

Change can bring wrenching emotions. Those are not necessarily bad things. Letting go of what doesn’t serve us opens the way for new good to enter our lives. What once scared or overwhelmed us does not always have to do so. Letting go of old dreams can open the doorway for new and better dreams, dreams that a few short years ago we may not even have known how to dream.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Monday, March 26, 2007

Moving Forward and Letting Go

Moving forward often means letting go of things. Often we see that as letting go of physical objects or relationships and meaning we will lose something. On this trip I’m reminded that it can mean something very different. I am reminded that it can mean letting go of beliefs that no longer serve us.

I am also reminded just how profoundly the choices I make affect my circumstances. I could easily have seen myself as trapped this week—and that’s how I initially felt. But I am realizing that if I let go of the belief that I must always be the rescuer, that I must always be the one to find solutions, that I must always be the one to take care of others, then there are solutions I would not otherwise perceive.

Today there were moments when I felt utter panic. I felt the walls closing in and trapped. And then I realized that I had to let go of the above beliefs. All of a sudden, I began to see possible solutions to the situation that would not involve me, that did not require me to sacrifice myself so that I could resolve someone else’s dilemma. I could offer ways that person could approach the challenges he faces that did not involve me. Had I been able to do this twenty years ago, who knows how different my life might have been.

But we cannot go back and change the past. We did the best we could in those moments of our lives. The key is to remember that at any point, in any moment, we can stop and challenge the assumptions we hold. We can let go of ideas and beliefs that no longer serve us.

The irony is that in stepping out of the rescuer role, I am offering the others involved in this crisis a chance to grow and discover new capabilities within themselves and new dimensions to how they see themselves and each other. I can be true to myself and the kind of person I choose to be without taking ownership of anyone else’s problems.

I did not look forward to this journey but I knew absolutely within my heart that it was necessary. I am profoundly grateful that I chose to come here. We do not grow or change by playing it safe and if we do not grow and change then the quality of our lives cannot change. It is in facing the challenges in our lives that we grow and discover new strengths, new resilience, new possibilities, and new ways to be happy.

Had I not come, I would not have been the person I choose to be. And I would not have understood what I understood today. I would not be at peace with the choices I was making. I would not have had this chance to grow.

May you be able to see within every challenge you face the opportunity to grow and be happier. May you be able to let go of that which no longer serves you and move forward to become the person you are meant to be.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

(I knew I was going to need to write several posts this week!)

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Looking over my last post, I realized it could be read the wrong way. It could be read as if I am afraid of my ex-husband and going back to face him. The truth, I must tell you, is nothing so heroic as that.

I’m not of afraid of my ex-husband so much as I’m afraid for him. Afraid that he broke his leg so badly because the cancer may be back and this time in his bones. So far that doesn’t seem to be the case, but the fear is still there. My son’s fear is that his father is in worse shape than he is, that he will die as other family members have died when they went to the hospital. Those are his fears that I must help ease.

My other fear is of being drawn into chaos and drowning in it. Of finding I fall back into the pattern of never challenging my ex-husband’s expectations. Of discovering my son is so out of control that there’s nothing I can do. I am afraid of falling into my ex-husband’s expectations of who I should be and what I should do for him. I am afraid of forgetting the strong woman I have become.

As I said, not very heroic. Just...sad and difficult and worrisome and mundane.

On the plus side, I am discovering that I can choose to do THIS in order to be the kind of person I choose to be and still say NO, I will not do THAT because THAT is asking too much of me. There is power in knowing that NOW I can choose to set boundaries, now I can choose how I see myself.

On the down side, things are worse with my son than I feared they would be. His behavior is more out of control and my ability to reach him diminished even more than it was before. I’m getting very little sleep and all my waking time with him is spent in trying to create some structure, trying to set some boundaries and help him understand what is acceptable and what is not. So that when I must return home to Texas there will be people who are willing to stay with him until my ex-husband can take over his care again.

And always I must cope with the disparity between how I hoped I would be as a mother to my children and how reality has turned out. I must deal with my fears for my son’s future and the reality of my own capabilities and the circumstances with which I live.

I am also fielding calls from my daughter trying to choose a graduate school and so I find myself giving her the questions to ask herself so that she can decide and trying to encourage her to trust her own wisdom. She is a young woman with the capability to change the world and some day I think she will but for now she wants guidance and it is hard not to tell her what I think and only suggest to her what she can ask herself.

My friend with breast cancer is still scared but she does what needs to be done with grace and dignity. It is good to be able to see her and cheer her on and give her some books that I know will make her laugh.

So this is a visit that is exhausting and brings back old fears and old patterns of behavior and worries. It is a visit that in many ways is good and in many ways upsetting. I must face the gap between what I wish was and how things really are. I must choose every day, sometimes every moment, what I will choose to focus on—that which disappoints or scares me or on the good in my life. As much as I can, I choose the good.

I am blessed that I can be here with my son. I am blessed that my friend is fighting her breast cancer so successfully. I am blessed that my ex is choosing to treat me with more respect NOW than he ever did when we were married. I am blessed that I no longer have to see myself through my ex-husband’s eyes and his measures of what matters and what doesn’t.

Here’s an example of how/why focus matters. When I was flying in, the second part of my trip was delayed by 2 hours. I could have focused on how upset I was, how unfair the delay was, etc. Instead, I discovered a shop where I could buy something to use as a prayer shawl while I am here. And so many people rebooked themselves onto other flights that mine was half empty. I even found when I reached the house that my son was out bowling and got home ten minutes after I did so that the delay didn’t really matter after all. In short, the delay brought possibilities and blessings into my life and I am grateful that I was able to see and enjoy them.

We have a choice, every day, to move forward, to look for the good in our lives and value the blessings or to see ourselves as helpless victims, forever unfairly treated and unhappy. I have friends who do just that—see themselves as such victims. I understand. I truly do. I also see the unhappiness within which they see themselves as trapped and I know that I would rather choose to be happy.

Well, I’m rambling on much too long. I suspect I will post again this week—if only to clarify my own thoughts about what I am going through and coping with. I hope you will bear with me when I do. And I hope that in your own lives you are finding reasons to be grateful and ways to rewrite relationships that are changing or no longer nourish your soul.

With blessings and sending safe and gentle ((((((((hugs))))))))),


Friday, March 23, 2007

Travel and Fears

Just a short note as I get ready to fly out. The good thing is that I will get to see my friend with breast cancer and my son (who has down syndrome) and help to calm his fears about his father. But that means I must calm my own.

And there are fears getting triggered about going back now under these conditions. I need to keep stopping, taking deep breaths (breathe in deeply, hold for several seconds, let out slowly) as I remind myself that all will be well. I am not who I was.

Still, it is hard to go from a place where everyone views me with respect to a place where people don’t. Some of them anyway. One of the things I will be looking at is in what way some of those dynamics can be altered—IF they can.

I know that I will need to do the breathing often—to calm fears that are rising up out of the past as much as because of what’s happening now. I will envision a safe place in my mind where I am confident and strong and remind myself of all the successes I have had in my life. And that I am not who I was when I lived there and felt so afraid to ever speak up for myself.

There are some real issues in the now. Fears that I hope will prove groundless. I breathe deeply and remind myself that whatever will be will be—whether I worry or not—and that I have within me the skills and strength and resilience to face whatever is ahead.

Well, time to go. If I can, I will try to post a little more often this week. If I can. Depends on how things go and what internet access I have. Blessings to all of you and as always, sending safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))).


Saturday, March 17, 2007

I Hate Dental Work

I hate going to the dentist. I’ve got really sensitive teeth. (Think multiple shots of Novocain that still don’t numb the nerve completely.) And this was a new dentist so I had no way of knowing how good he was or wasn’t.

And then there’s the cost. I don’t have dental insurance and even if I did a) the insurance wouldn’t be cheap and b) I’d still have to pay half out of pocket.

So why am I talking about something that makes most people cringe? Two reason. I want to share two things with all of you: dental discount cards and relaxation techniques.

In my case, I found that Aetna has a dental discount card that costs me $6 a month (one time $15 application fee). There’s NO WAITING PERIOD for any level of dental work and it saved me $138 yesterday. ($258 without the card, $120 with it) Needless to say, I’m thrilled. So I mention it for anyone else who doesn’t have dental insurance and needs dental work. It might save you enough to be worth it. (I’ll see in 6 months how much it saves me on having my teeth cleaned.)

Now for the other part of it. As I said, I’d never had any work done by this dentist before. So I was really nervous. Would he understand how terrified I was? Would he stop if he hit the nerve and give me a chance to recover? What about the Novocain—would it work this time?

I’ve been told in the past that the adrenaline of fear can drive the Novocain out of the system so the more I could do to relax the better. Um, okay. What did I have to lose? The question was: Was it possible? (Relax? RELAX? To get my tooth drilled? Were they out of their freaking minds?????)

I started the night before, telling myself as I went to sleep that it would go perfectly on Friday morning. I would feel no pain. Friday morning I had decaf coffee instead of regular and I started doing deep, calming breathing techniques. At the dentist’s office, for the first time they took my blood pressure before they began. 117/68—pretty good. The breathing technique must be working.

The dentist came in. He was very nice, assured me everyone got scared. I’m not sure he realized just how scared I get because I looked so calm. Okay, we’d see how it goes. He tilted the chair back and I closed my eyes and kept repeating mentally to myself that I was calm and at peace and it would all go perfectly. And it pretty much did. He hit the nerve once, instantly stopped, gave me a second or two to recover and then after that it was fine.

I can’t tell you my relief when he was done. It was probably the most pain free filling I’ve ever gotten. Part of it was that he was good at what he did. I also know that a big part of it was how relaxed I was.

Anyway wanted to share those two things—the dental discount cards and the relaxation techniques—because I know that going to the dentist can be a real problem for many of us. (Heck I’m such a wuss about the dentist that there have been times I put off seeing one for a few years at a stretch—and always regretted it later.)

As always, sending safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),

Note: Family crisis means I may need to fly to NJ and not sure when I'll next get a chance to post. No one should worry if I'm a little later than usual! I'm fine just, as I said, family crisis to deal with.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Just got back from a trip. I gave a day long writing workshop on Saturday. People who know me say they take it for granted my workshops will be a success. These days, I do too. But I remember all too vividly back when I found it hard to believe I could have anything to say that anyone would want to hear or they didn’t already know!

Looking back, I also remember all too vividly how, for most of my life, I would have felt out of place in a new situation with people I didn’t know. These days, travel is an opportunity to make new friends—everywhere. On this trip I did make new friends, I made a difference AND I had FUN! What could be better than that?

I used to worry that if I said something and someone didn’t “get it” that it meant I had failed—and I’d try even harder to persuade them I was right. Now I know, from my own experience, how a person can hear something, think it’s nonsense or useless information, and then discover days, weeks, months or even years later how true the words were. (I can’t tell you how many times over the past few years I’ve felt I should apologize to the counselor I worked with for thinking at the time that what he was saying was lame only to realize NOW how profoundly powerful or right it was!) The truth is that we understand things when we’re ready to understand them. If someone doesn’t get what we’re saying, that’s okay. They will if and when they are ready to do so. And maybe what’s right for us isn’t always right for someone else. I’ve learned to offer ideas and tools knowing that I can’t gauge which will be right for which person. This makes presenting workshops a whole lot easier. I don’t have to worry if someone disagrees with me about something. I can relax knowing that my job is just to share what I know and have faith that each person there will find and use what’s right for them.

Of course, when I talk about writing, I also talk about much more than that. I talk about finding joy in everything we do. I talk about believing in ourselves. I talk about trusting our subconscious to help us resolve all the challenges in our lives. I talk about seeing others and understanding that conflict always rises out of triggered fears. I talk about doing things in small pieces so we don’t get overwhelmed and doing what needs to be done in an order that builds experiences of success.

In other words, I share a lot of what I write about here. Because whether there is abuse in our backgrounds or not, we are all more alike than we are different. We all carry self-doubt. We all have hopes and dreams and fears.

Here’s hoping that in your life you realize what YOU have to offer the world. Here’s hoping that in your life you realize that you DO belong. Here’s hoping that you know that everywhere you go there are new friends to be found.

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Heroes and Safety

Most people live their lives from a place of fear. Not just people who have been traumatized but everyone. Fear of being broke, fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, fear of being hurt, fear of being abandoned, fear of ____________ (fill in the blank with every other fear you can think of).

Problem is our brains don’t work the same when we’re scared Often we can’t think of solutions as easily or feel generous and loving if we’re afraid. At the very least it’s much harder than when we’re happy or relaxed.

So...two thoughts:

1) Create a safe place in your mind. Whenever you feel scared imagine being there, safe and happy. Imagine this is how your life is meant to be. What could you do if you always felt this safe and happy?

Odds are that if you can create this sense of being safe and happy in your mind, you will begin to see solutions to situations that have felt overwhelming. You will see the path out of every challenge. If you know, deep in your heart, that you deserve to feel this safe and happy, odds are you will not let anyone mistreat you ever again.

2) Be a hero. I’m not talking about rushing into burning buildings or fighting wars. I’m not talking about rescuing every person you see. I’m not talking about trying to be good enough, heroic enough to deserve to exist. (And yes, I know that one only too well....)

What I am talking about is this: Suppose you see yourself as a hero—someone who does the right thing even if it’s hard or scary? Suppose you see yourself as someone who can offer a kind word to others and who does what needs to be done—even when it’s hard or scary?

I’m talking about a mental shift. I’m talking about seeing yourself from the core of your STRENGTHS. I’m talking about seeing yourself as strong and capable of making changes in your life.

And yes, sometimes it means standing up for others. Sometimes it means doing the right thing even when the other person doesn’t. It means choosing to become the people we want to be and believe in. It means caring enough about ourselves to ask of ourselves that we give our best—not for anyone else’s sake but for our own.

What if we choose to live lives of joy? What if we choose to be at peace with ourselves? What if we choose to believe that we will always find the resilience and strength inside to live as we want to live? How might our lives change?

That’s the journey I’ve been on the past few years. And as scary as it has been at times, oh, the joy in discovering I am stronger than I thought I was, braver than I thought I was, smarter than I thought I was!

Five years ago, I could not have imagined my life as it is now. Ten years ago I would have said you were crazy if you told me this was who I would become. Twenty years ago I’m not sure I believed I’d even live until now.

What I am saying is that even if you have trouble believing these things of yourself and your own life, there is power in taking a leap of faith. There is power in choosing to live AS IF it was true—as if you were strong enough and brave enough and wise enough to create the kind of life you want to have. You may not see any way to do it. I didn’t. I was lucky if I could see two steps ahead, much less have a far reaching plan! But I took the leap of faith and the bridge appeared. So, I believe, it will for you.

So...create an image of a safe and happy place in your mind. A place where you can go to renew yourself emotionally when it’s been a hard day. And begin to live your life as a hero. Notice the good things that begin to happen, the ways your life begins to improve. Trust that you don’t need to be able to see the whole path—just the step ahead.

Sending safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),