Sunday, October 26, 2008


It's finally feeling like Fall here. Of course, here it means highs still in the 70s and lows in the 40s and 50s at night. But it's a change from the heat of summer. Which means I find myself contemplating all sorts of changes now.

Warning: This post may sound Pollyannish. It isn't. It's very pragmatic. This approach is the one thing that's gotten me through incredibly difficult times in my life. If I hadn't looked at life this way, I wouldn't be here. It was the antidote to fears that kept me awake in the early hours of the morning. It was got me unstuck when I was paralyzed by the changes happening to and around me. It's the only thing I've ever found that consistently works no matter what challenge I'm facing. It has turned some of what felt like horrible days into some of the most important and—at least in retrospect—good turning points of my life.

But back to my post about changes. It can feel scary when there are so many changes happening. We've got political changes about to occur. The financial situation feels like it's changing just about every day. A lot of us have family changes taking place, too.

We as individuals get to choose how we will respond to change. Do we dive in and look for opportunities or do we try to hide from it or are we somewhere in between?

Change will happen. We can put our energy into worrying about it or we can put our energy into looking for the opportunities that change will bring us.

That doesn't mean we never grieve for what we're losing! Of course we do. At the same time, though, what if we looked for what could be good about our new situation? That question is a powerful antidote to fear. It's gotten me through some of the most difficult times of my life.

Take the economy, for example. That's scary for a lot of us—and with good reason. There's no question it's a hardship for many people. What about those of us who are not yet desperate—just really worried? What good could we bring out of it? Maybe a closeness to our families as we decide—as families—how we might cut back and ways to manage with less. Maybe we can turn to the elders of the family who lived through the Great Depression for ideas we might not think of ourselves. Maybe it's a chance to rediscover each other. Maybe it's a chance to figure out if there's something we'd rather be doing than our current job. Or maybe there's some other blessing. During the last recession, in one friend's case, being laid off meant she could be there for her mother who shortly after my friend lost her job was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She will be forever grateful that during those few short months before her mother died, she was free to be at her mother's side.

Maybe this financial crisis is a chance to sit down and look at what really matters, what are our true needs and what we've used instead to try to fill emotional needs by buying THINGS instead of facing the emotions.

It's hard to do any of this if we hide our heads in the sand until we hit desperation. But what if we embrace change early on and flow with it? What if we look for what could be good—and then act to bring that good about?

Wishing for all of us the wisdom and creativity to flow with change and grow from it. Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Week That Got Away From Me

I've just had one of those weeks that got away from me. You know the kind I mean. Just when you're ready to unwind and relax you remember you have a meeting—and it's one you want to attend. Just as you sit down to write a blog post the phone rings and someone you care about needs help with something. The dog figures out how to pull down the drapes. Or your kid says, “Mom, I think I might have a concussion.”

Everything turns out okay but....the week gets away from you.

In a way it was a blessing. It reminded me to always double check what someone says—rather than just getting upset. It reminded me that much of what I often worry about turns out okay. Why put energy into worrying before I have to? And it reminded me that sometimes it's better to laugh than get angry. (The drapes went right back up with no damage.)

I was reminded that there are all sorts of possible ways to handle things and that there is rarely only one that's right. It reminded me that I can choose which one serves me—and those I love—best rather than automatically acting and reacting as I have in the past.

Here's hoping you're all having great weeks and they're not getting away from you! Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))))),


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Long Week

It's been a long week and I know I'm overdue to post. Sophy needed medicine again and again it made her nuts. Thank heavens I'd seen online that this was a possible side effect or I'd have really been worried about what I was getting into with her! Once she was off it, she settled right back down again.

And my son is getting nervous about moving into the group home. It's a great group home with a really caring and well trained staff. But understandably he's nervous so I've been fielding lots of calls from him.

My daughter is talking about moving after this year—away from the city where I live. I know she needs to do what's best for her and I am sooooo grateful for the time we've had living near each other but...I'll miss her if she does go. I've been listening to her fears, too, and her elation that so many people seem so eager to help her find the right place. But then she's brilliant and unusual—far more so than she realizes.

My latest writing class....well....fewer students than I hoped are ready to spend the money to take it.

I've also been having dreams—and mine are never subtle. I dream of marriage and in the dream it requires giving up my purse and my luggage (my identity) and discovering the guy is abusive as well. I dream of everyone else eating food (which represents love) and being the only one not to have a seat.

As I said, my dreams are never subtle. They highlight for me assumptions I didn't realize I still have and that I will need to consciously dismantle. Probably by imagining what it might be like if I did have a loving partner who truly valued me.

That's one of the high points of this week, by the way. Researchers have discovered (duh!) that having or being able to imagine something which signifies safety or happiness near one gives a person the incentive to keep going forward and fight depression.

Since I always suggest that we wear clothes that make us feel happy or strong or safe and ditto for wearing jewelry or the objects with which we surround ourselves and since from the time I was a small child I would imagine situations and people where and with whom I would be safe and/or happy....this makes perfect sense to me. As I said above, DUH!!! Who needs research to discover these things? And yet I'm glad for that research. I like the confirmation that I've been on the right track all along.

Normally I'd focus just on this last thing—what we can do to feel better and the proof that it works. But this week I'm tired. This week to let you see that being an optimist doesn't mean there are never any challenges.

So how does one handle all of the above? I look for solutions to the things I can do something about—like the assumptions I still seem to have about relationships. For the things over which I have no control, I ask myself: What good could come out of this? What can I learn from this? What are the changes I might want to make in my life or my interactions with others? Is there something I can do to help make the transition easier for my son? Are there things I want to do with my daughter before she leaves the area? What kind of training do I want to work on with Sophy? If there is any kind of gap in my life, what steps do I want to take to fill it?

In other words, instead of ignoring things or putting energy into feeling like a victim I'm choosing to be proactive. I'm reminding myself that there are always choices—even if they aren't the ones I want the most. And I use my imagination as a way of looking for new possibilities and keeping myself from getting mired in negative emotions. And now there's even research that says that actually works.

Sending all of you blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Laps and Trust

As Sophy climbed into my lap one more time this week (and she is not a small dog!) I found myself thinking: Don't we all wish, sometimes, that we had a lap to climb into where someone bigger would hold us and make all the problems of the world go away? But just as Sophy isn't really a lapdog, most of us aren't going to be able to find someone who can do that for us either. Which means that we must be the ones to create the lives we want to have and to look at how we want to be in this world NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE SAYS OR DOES.

That's both the scary thing and the empowering thing—we have both the ability and the responsibility to make choices about our lives. We have both the ability and the responsibility to choose what we will focus on. We also have both the ability and the responsibility to seek out advice and help when we need it—knowing that ultimately it is we who must choose how we do—or don't—apply that advice and help.

I found myself thinking about that this week as I have watched some friends panicking over the financial crisis. I couldn't help thinking they had waited perhaps too long to ask for advice that might have helped them avoid the personal financial crisis they are in now.

Not that I can point fingers. In fact, I suspect I'm noticing because it reminds me that for far too long I didn't dare let myself believe I needed anyone's advice or help. After all, I had learned early and well that there was no one I could trust better than myself when I was growing up. My family was too dysfunctional and no one outside the family to whom I went for help seemed capable of grasping what I tried to tell them or if they did the advice they gave only made things far worse. Heck, adults were coming to ME for advice—and screwier yet, they were taking it! So if I hadn't believed I could figure it all out myself, I think I would have given up. I would have figured there was no point in even trying. In other words, I'm like many survivors of abuse who grew up trusting only in myself and my own capabilities.

Oh, I learned early how to seek out people who would be somewhat nurturing toward me. But...ultimately I never trusted them to be smart enough to be of help. It took years, far longer than I wish it had, for me to get to the point where I risked asking for help or advice and listening to anyone. It didn't always work out well when I did, but ultimately being willing to try led me to the counselor who saved my life. With his help, I found a way to let go of the past and become who I am now.

There are still moments when I realize I'm pushing away resources that could be useful. There are still moments when I have to remind myself that not everything rests on my shoulders. And then I look at Sophy. As clever as she is, as much of a survivor as she has shown herself to be, her life is happier and more fun because she's willing to let me help her and be part of her life. She's safer because she lets me set boundaries and show her better things to eat than dead birds and bugs and leaves.

It is, as with everything, a question of balance. We cannot abdicate our responsibility for our own lives and at the same time we pay a very high price if we are not willing to listen when that's the appropriate thing to do. We don't need to—and shouldn't—blindly take the advice of others! It is our lives, after all. But we gain if we are willing to learn from others. Wouldn't it be a better world if everyone was?

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