Monthly Archives: December 2017

Releasing Expectations

This post was inspired by my “3 Months” post in Hip Adventures. I am struggling with releasing my expectation that I would be all better by now. I realize my expectation was that I would be back to all my normal activities by now and would be mostly pain free. I’m not. And my other hip is going. I am disappointed, sad, frustrated, and angry.

This morning in my meditation I reflected on Buddha’s wise observation, “Attachment is the root of all suffering.” This is one of the basic tenets of Buddhism. As one of my favorite teachers says, “Pain in life is a given, suffering is optional.” He liked to use a great mental picture to demonstrate this. He said, “We often cling to our pain and our stories and dramas about our pain, like clutching a burning ember in our hands. It would be better if we dropped all of it, including the ember, and soaked our hand in cold water.”

My version of doing this is to have a really good cry and let my tears be the water soothing my burning emotions. I let my tears wash away all those painful feelings, acknowledging them as they go. That’s what I did Monday morning when I finally allowed myself to admit that my left hip is failing. After this emotional thunderstorm, the clouds burn away and I am able to see sunlight again, to look on the brighter side of the situation.

This always requires releasing the expectation that things should be different than they are. In this situation, it means letting go of the expectation that my right hip should be healed and pain free by now, and my left hip should be ok for another few years. This is not reality. And I promised my left hip I would not bury my pain in denial, like I did with my right hip. It serves no useful purpose and it causes unnecessary suffering.

Once I feel my feelings and release my expectations, I can then focus on the positive aspects of the situation, marshal my resources and make a sensible plan of action. I know I am not ready to have another surgery right now, but I think I could manage it in the spring. I’ve made a deal with myself that if I have more problems with my left hip by the end of February, I will make an appointment to see Dr. Shukla and take it from there.

Since making this decision, I have felt more peaceful. There is less emotional turmoil and railing against what is happening. The “woe is me” story is fading. Yes, I do still feel all those feelings at times, especially when I hurt, but now they pass through more easily. This is simply “what is so” at this moment. It is so much easier to release my expectations and be with it, holding myself with compassion and keeping my teddy bear handy.

3 Months

Today is my 3-month anniversary of my right hip replacement. It’s hard to believe I’m finally at the magic 90-day mark. It’s nearing Christmas and the end of 2017. This is a time of reflection for me and I thought today a good time to write an update in my blog.

Well, what can I say? Let’s start with some humor…

While I am very pleased with my hip replacement, I must say the recovery process is something I am not entirely pleased about. In fact, sometimes it downright sucks. It’s slow with lots of ups and downs. I have learned I am not good with slow recoveries. I’ve never had one before. This morning I reminded myself that this is by far the most extensive surgery I’ve ever undergone. And, like Davis told me at 7.5 weeks, “adjust your expectations.” (Probably my next post in Enlightening Practices 🙂 )

The good news is that I can now walk without a limp, most of the time. You can see my 3-month video of my walk at this link to Google Photos: Rhonda’s Hip Adventure Videos. I can also stand on the leg and balance without the pain I had before. I am still struggling to bend the knee into a lunge position and be able to hold it. While I can do this, it hurts. Stairs are the bane of my existence. I keep working at it, figuring it will come eventually. My morning Tai Chi practice has been helpful.

I am still loving the pool! It is the time where I feel most free and the pain is totally gone. I’m sure walking the length of the pool has helped me regain my limp-free walk on land. The whirlpool before and after is a delicious treat, especially during this cold time of year. It helps to warm and loosen my achy muscles and I can stretch out the stiffness more easily in warm water.

I also continue to be very grateful to my skilled massage therapist for her part in breaking down scar tissue and helping my muscles to heal.

So, here is the hard part, my other hip is beginning to ache and spasm, and it’s snapping and cracking a lot when I bend and move. I hate admitting that. It’s been happening over the last two weeks, right along side my improving walk. I feel, to use Deb’s analogy, like they are crossing each other on an escalator. As my right hip rises in strength and function, my left hip declines. I know Dr. Shukla told me this was one of the possibilities. But, I was so hoping for the other: that the left hip would last longer because of the surgery. I wanted some time to be pain free, to be able to hike this summer. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

On Monday, I sat down in my recliner with my teddy bear and sobbed. I railed against how really unfair this is and prayed it would get better and not worse, for more time before I have to face another surgery. Today it is worse. It’s stormy and cold and I ache. I can’t tell which hip hurts worse now. I’m taking ibuprofen during the day and to get through the night. The Bud Rub is going on both hips. It’s weird to me that I can’t tell the difference between the pain, though logically I know one side is muscle pain from the surgery and the other side is arthritic pain in the joint. When it gets like this, I have a new walk, I call it the “Penguin.” I kind of waddle with a very short stride, avoiding extending either hip too far. I think it’s cuter, and probably funnier, than my Geisha Pirate.

I know my body is not ready, nor my psyche, for another surgery right now. My sense is if I lay low and take it easy, maybe I can nurse it along until spring. I’d like to have at least 6 months between surgeries.

I’ve been trying to look at the bright side of this scenario. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. I can use the same surgical and physical therapy team who already know me and my body and did such a great job the first time.
  2. I don’t have to wonder when this is going to happen in the future. It will be behind me instead of ahead of me.
  3. I will spend less time on a wonky pelvis. Right now my legs are not attached to my pelvis in the same way and I can feel the torque in my back, knees, ankles and feet. Balancing this out would be better for the rest of my frame.
  4. I can get all the recovery behind me and by this time next year, I should be much better and then I will be able to hike, pain-free (hopefully) in the summer of 2019.
  5. Since I already paid my insurance deductible, this one will be covered 100%.

It does help me to think about it this way. What isn’t going to help is feeling sorry for myself. Though, sometimes a good cry is very therapeutic! Well, I will keep you posted on how all this evolves. Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday season and a Blessed, Peaceful, Healthy, Happy New Year!

 

Giving the Gift of Presence

I’ve been away from my blog for awhile, but it’s been for a good cause. I’ve been giving the gift of presence by spending quality time with the people I love. If they live near me, we sit face-to-face and talk, often sharing a meal. Otherwise, we talk on the phone, Facetime, or email each other.

Presence is my favorite present to both give and receive. It is about showing up COMPLETELY for another person, with ears and heart open and cell phone off. We reminisce about the year past, ponder the year coming up, and express our gratitude for our relationship and all we have shared together. We eat good food, drink good wine, laugh, shed some tears, smile a lot and nod. Sometimes, we reach across the table to touch each other’s hands. And we always part with a big hug. If we are on the phone or writing an email, we send our love over the lines and we don’t allow distractions or interruptions of this precious time.

Sometimes, we can get lost in the hustle and bustle of the Holidays and forget to be present, to be loving. We can get caught up in giving material gifts at the expense of human relationships, becoming short with our partners, children, co-workers, the driver in front of us or the clerk at the store. Let’s stop in these moments and remind ourselves that the season is about love and kindness.

The Practice: Show up for the people you love, COMPLETELY. Be present. Be loving and kind to everyone you come across, even if they are aggravating you. Smile. Listen. Wish them well. Send out into this world what you would want to receive back.

It’s a Men’s and Women’s Problem

This is a new theme which arose over the course of the week when I read a post by Jon Katz on Bedlam Farm Journal which was forwarded to me by one of my readers and friends. In this post, I am reprinting John’s post first and my response to his post second. I have included quotations of his in my post and then responses.

It’s A Men’s Problem

This post It’s A Men’s Problem. Learning What No One Ever Taught appeared first on Bedlam Farm Journal.

When I was a teenager, I experienced some of the most powerful and troubling physical impulses of my life.

They were sexual, I had entered puberty in my mid teens and was perpetually aroused and tormented. It felt as if my body had gone mad, beyond my control.

I remember having erections that were embarrassing – they were often visible – and kept me from sleeping for weeks on end. I was often afraid to go to school or without a jacket covering my groin.

I remember that these feelings were not pleasant, but painful and intensely uncomfortable. There was little I would not have done to release them or be rid of them.

These sexual impulses were overwhelming, and at times, barely controllable, even uncontrollable.

My friends and I pursued women whenever we could and tried to have sex with them whenever possible. That was almost always foremost in our minds.

We masturbated whenever we could and as often as we could. I suppose our parents knew but never spoke of it.

It was the closest I have ever come to feeling like an animal and being like an animal.

As aroused as we were, my friends and I never, to my knowledge, forced ourselves on anyone, although we tried often to persuade women to have sex with us. We were sometimes pushy and obnoxious in that way, it was always on our minds.

That was the way in which we came to know women, and the beginnings of the failure of many men to understand them or see them as equal human beings with the right to dignity.

I wish someone had prepared me for it.

One of the interesting things about that period for me was that I never once mentioned what I was going through to anyone – my father, my mother, my family, my friends, my teachers, or uncles.

No one ever spoke to me about these impulses, or ever discussed the dangers of acting on them, or appropriate ways to respond to them.  No one talked of the importance of understanding no, only the importance of yes. To have sex was a victory, to fail a defeat.

At times, that was my only understanding of women – as a way to get relief from the impulses that seemed to have taken over my body. I never thought once about how women felt about me or the other men, nor did we ever speak to them about their feelings about sex and love.

These impulses were often stronger than my own reserve and moderation, my own innate sense of decency.  There were no rewards for restraint.

I do not claim to understand what these powerful harassers in the news today were thinking or feeling, but I do  wonder about the impulses and addictions that they could not control. I was a journalist for many years, and while I can’t speak for all men, I can say with some confidence that these men knew better, they knew what they were doing was wrong.

What, I wonder, overcame their morality and empathy?

This is a secret world I am talking about. It is simply never discussed.  In fact, this is the first time I have ever mentioned my own early sexual experiences to anyone other than Maria.

We do not have any secrets from one another.

I have no harassment stories to confess to or apologize for from back then, unless it is the growing understanding that almost all men are complicit in this brutalizing and exploitation and harassment of women.

It seems to be built not only into the biology of men, but into the cultural and political structures of the country, and the way in which men are raised.

To me, harassment is a men’s problem, not a women’s problem. They are victims, but the problem is men’s to own and talk about and fix. Since we do most of it, we must work to stop it.

More than 99 per cent of all rapes are committed by men in America.

Without men, rape would hardly exist in our society.

When I was an executive producer at CBS News, I saw the corrupting and corrosive effect on men of power. Power is dangerous, it is an aphrodisiac, it does make some men feel invincible and entitled and immortal, it does transform them and quite often brings out their worst angels, or perhaps demons is a better word.

I saw that a lot, it was a major reason I was eager to leave television, along with my bosses’s eagerness to have me go.

These powerful impulses left me long ago, and I do not really know where or when it was I got the idea that abusing or exploiting women in this way was wrong.

I must have come to it myself somehow, since no one ever talked to me about it, or told me what was right or wrong when it came to men’s treatment of women. I just seemed to know that it was wrong,  that kind of cruelty and domination did not ever seem like sex or love to me. What kind of man – what kind of person – treats another human being in that way? The answer is many people, and they are mostly men.

It seems to me, this has nothing to do with sex, but mostly with power.

I knew what it felt like to be dominated and assaulted and harassed, I could not do it to anyone else.  All my life, I have heard men speak in awe and wonder at other men who brag about their sexual conquests. I have rarely, if ever,  heard a man praise another man for treating women well and with sensitivity.

Over these past few weeks, as the harassment issue becomes more and more politicized – the existence of a “left” and a “right” seems a far greater threat to the country to me than the Russians – it has become even more difficult for us to come to understand what is happening inside the psyches of men that causes them to harass and dominate women, often in the most brutal and degrading of ways.

Harassment is now okay  on one level – approved at the highest levels of politics – if it advances a political agenda. You can harass all the women you want in the name of the left, or the right. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong, there is no wrong in that shameless world.

That is not the message young men need to hear. Some things – harassment and rape – are much worse than a legislative defeat.

This week, I finally e-mailed a friend and mentor who has been accused of sexual harassment, and has admitted that the accusations against him are true. He was fired, and lost everything. He thinks he may never find work again. His wife is terrified, they can no longer pay the college tuition for their son.  He said he was ashamed of himself.

I wasn’t sure what to say to him. I avoided him for weeks.

I asked him how he was and expressed the hope he was getting help. He was  sad, and seemed very regretful in his messages. He referred to impulses and needs that had simply overtaken his moral judgment and ethics.

They were much more powerful than he had recognized or seen.

He seemed sincere to me, he seemed broken, as if he had awakened from a trance.

He said it was all like being in a fever, he simply left his own self respect at times. He said he knew that was no excuse, that there was no excuse. It was an understanding that he was coming to.

He could not explain to himself how he left his morality was left behind as he abused women in gross ways and humiliated himself and his family. What will I tell my children, he asked me?

I said  nothing, but wondered to myself why he didn’t think of that sooner.

A good rule for men is to always stop and ask what their children might think of the way they treat women. I stopped myself from having an affair once long ago by doing that. It works.

My friend also never discussed his impulses with anyone, he said. There was no place for him to go. Women can now to go HR with complaints of harassment, he said, but men cannot go anywhere and talk about the sex drives and impulses that sometimes overwhelm their own moral values and humanity. No man who did that would be employed for long, or ever be promoted.

Yesterday, I read a heartfelt and thoughtful piece by Billy Bush, the TV host whose career was destroyed by his proximity to the bloviating Donald Trump and his Hollywood Access tapes. Surprisingly, I found Bush’s piece to be one of the best things I have seen men write about the harassment scandals wracking the corporate, media and entertainment worlds.

“I have faith,” Bush wrote, “that when the hard work of exposing these injustices is over, the current media drama of who did what to whom will give way to a constructive dialogue between mature men and women in the workplace and beyond.

The activist and gender-relations expert Jackson Katz has said that this is not a women’s issue – it’s a men’s issue. That’s a great place to start, and something I have real thoughts about – but is a story for another day.”

Amen to that.

Good for you, Billy, I thought, you are becoming a man.

You were debased and debased yourself by applauding  Mr. Trump and his disgusting comments to you.

In your response, you are reclaiming your own dignity and honor by being thoughtful and honest.

You have paid an awful price, and it seems to have done you some good. “Today,” Bush wrote, “is about reckoning and reawakening, and I hope it reaches all the guys on the bus.” Not yet, but maybe one day soon.

I watched Jackson Katz’s (no relation) Ted Talk about men last night and it also gave me hope that men may  begin to think and talk about how violent behaviors – in politics, the school yard, the NFL, and especially with women – are tied to the definitions of manhood that dominate our culture.

In Washington, winning is everything, there is nothing else. That’s what Katz means.

When I was a kid, we young men thought that pursuing women sexually and conquering them was a sign of manhood, of strength and virility.

It was something we were supposed to do if we were real men.

We were praised for it, it made us seem bigger, when it fact it was making us smaller. I can’t help but wonder if those weren’t the lessons so many men carried into their adult lives, when they should have known better.

Perhaps because of the abuse I suffered, I somehow came to see violence against women as a sign of weakness and cowardice, not of strength.

I had no role models to teach me this, and have rarely, if ever, discussed this with anyone.

I am in awe of these brave women who have put this issue on the dinner table of every awake home in America. They are so much braver than the men who assaulted and harassed them.

But I also believe that somehow, there needs to be a much deeper conversation with young men and now, I see, older men as well,  about their bodies and drives and impulses. About how to control themselves and not hurt women and upend their own lives.

We need to find better way of being real men and understanding and teaching manhood. Like nurturing our wives and children, listening to women, supporting their advance through society so they can protect us and others from ourselves until we can  learn to protect ourselves and others from us. And choosing leaders who stand for something other than themselves.

I have to take responsibility for what men are doing to women, to their sons and brothers, to the world. It all seems like the same thing to me, all of the same piece – our behavior is unacceptable and causing great harm, even catastrophe.

That does not have to be what we are about. It is not what I am about, but for a flick of fate, it could easily have been what I am about.

It is in me, too, I am sure of it.

Billy Bush showed us what it means to be a real man in his piece this  week. Our President could have done a lot of good if he took responsibility and did some thinking about something other than his own survival,  the way Bush, his enabler, did.

I think Billy Bush will be all right.

“On a personal note,” he wrote, “this last year has been an odyssey, the likes of which I hope to never face again; anger, anxiety, betrayal, humiliation, many selfish, but I hope, understandable emotions. But these have given way to light, both spiritual and intellectual. It’s been fortifying. I know that I don’t need the accouterments of fame to know God and be happy. After everything over the last yer, I think I’m a better man and father to my three teenage daughters – far from perfect, but better.”

I’ve said all of my life that the only men I can love are those who have been tortured as children or humiliated as adults. They have to be shocked into awakening. But it’s all in there, it has to be.

So this is all a message for men, who can’t be perfect, but can be better. Can we overcome so much baggage, thousands of years of seeing women in this awful way? I don’t know. Something is happening, and it is important.

This is our problem, almost every woman alive seems to have been hurt by it, but they can’t ultimately resolve it. That falls on us.

Bush has learned the hard way what nobody ever bothered to teach him. There are lots of lessons in that. And in so doing, he seems to have become a real man.

This is a men’s problem. Calling it a women’s problem takes men off the hook. Right now, it seems the hook is finding us.

~~~

It’s Also a Women’s Problem

I was so inspired by what this man said, and the honesty, courage and vulnerability with which he spoke. It has haunted me since I read it yesterday morning and I knew I had to try and respond in the same way to the best of my ability. Thank you, dear Sir, whoever you are, for this post. (At this point, I didn’t know who the author of this post was.)

I have been both harassed and sexually abused by men. I have never reported it. Growing up, the message I received was that boys/men can be jerks and all they care about is sex and food. But, you have to have one to protect you and provide for you or really bad things will happen. So, you must accept your lot in life and do what you can to attract them, appease them and make them happy. It makes me cry to write this. It is such a tragic belief. By accepting this belief, I too am “complicit in this brutalizing exploitation and harassment of women.”

“When I was a kid, we young men thought that pursuing women sexually and conquering them was a sign of manhood, of strength and virility.”

When I was a kid, we young women felt wanted and desired and hoped that by going along with the conquering, we would be protected and safe. We wanted to be with the alpha males who were often the most brutal of all men, because they fit this image of the desirable male who would care for and protect us. I remember my partner saying to me, “Why do all the beautiful women chose ***holes to be with.” He knew me for 24 years before we became romantically involved. He watched me enter into, and leave, several relationships over the years in which I had chosen dominating males as partners. He also witnessed, as a friend, the pain this caused me. One of my girlfriends said it well, “It seems to me, you have always been your men’s fashion accessory and kitchen appliance.”

“…almost all men are complicit in this brutalizing exploitation and harassment of women.”

And almost all women are complicit in this brutalizing exploitation and harassment of women.

To me, harassment is a men’s problem, not a women’s problem. They are victims, but the problem is men’s to own and talk about and fix. Since we do most of it, we must work to stop it.”

We must work beside you to stop allowing and accepting it as “boys will be boys” and “locker room talk”.

“It seems to me, this has nothing to do with sex, but mostly with power.”

I agree. Sex can become about who has power over whom, or a way to feel powerful, desired, attractive. But, isn’t sex supposed to be about love? Making love, connecting at a body and soul level with another human being, both giving and receiving? But, where are we supposed to learn about how to do this when we are bombarded by images of domination and submission, by the objectification of women and men? Who teaches us about healthy sexuality? Who shows us how to handle those very strong impulses we all have, regardless of our sex, especially when we are young and unskillful? In our culture, making the subject taboo and not being willing to discuss it openly and honestly and with courage and vulnerability, is not helping us have mature, loving, reciprocal, equal relationships with each other.

“A good rule for men is to always stop and ask what their children might think of the way they treat women. I stopped myself from having an affair once long ago by doing that. It works.”

I love this idea of checking ourselves by considering the examples we are giving our young people. Do we want them to grow up like we did with these brutalizing and exploitive ideas shaping their relationships?  Or shall we do the hard work of teaching them how to love well from what we have hopefully learned along the way through our own mistakes?

“We need to find better way of being real men and understanding and teaching manhood. Like nurturing our wives and children, listening to women, supporting their advance through society so they can protect us and others from ourselves until we can learn to protect ourselves and others from us. And choosing leaders who stand for something other than themselves.”

We need to find a way to be confident, self-assured women who can understand and teach womanhood. Women who challenge aggressive and abusive behavior and stand up to protect ourselves and our children, who nurture and listen from the heart, who support all of our mutual desire to contribute the gifts we were given to society and the world. And who choose leaders, male and female, who stand for these same values and not only for themselves and their dominance over others.

“It is in me, too, I am sure of it.”

It’s in me, too, I know it. Because when I was hurt as a young woman by sexual abuse and male abandonment, I became a ruthless predator of men, a “Man Hunter.” I used and abused and manipulated and abandoned in the same way that had been done to me. I wanted to feel powerful and to get even. I am so sorry I did that and I apologize in this moment to all the men I did this too. It was not right of me to express my rage in this way. It was destructive and only added to the problem.

It was also not right of me to swallow my pain and my truth for so many years with my previous partners and not stand up for myself, not speak up, not challenge the dynamics of our relationship which were unequal and objectifying. By not doing this, I condoned and went along with what was happening, as if in a trance. Then one day I would wake up and suddenly leave the relationship, devastating them, myself and all who were connected with us. This was not a skillful way to stand up for myself. I am so sorry. I wish I had had more courage, that I’d awakened from the trance sooner.

Let us be compassionate with each other, for we all struggle with this problem. It belongs to all of us and it goes back thousands of years into our ancestry. My dream is that we become truly loving towards one another, recognizing that spiritually, we are all One. And we all want to be loved, appreciated, respected, valued, safe, secure, healthy, happy and at peace. Blaming, feeling victimized, seeking retaliation—none of these responses will get us where we really want to go. We can each choose to look honestly at our wounds, to “wake up from the trance”, to heal and choose love.

What goes out, returns in

I wanted to share the experiences of my day yesterday. This is a new theme I was inspired to begin, one that is about raw, unedited, unanalyzed experience.

In my morning meditation, I was doing a Qigong exercise where I draw in energy into a chakra, feel it filling me, and then I give out that energy back into the world. As I do this exercise, I reflect all the other beings who make my existence possible. Thousands of hands, plants, animals have created that which gives me sustenance. From the air I breathe to the food I eat to the clothing I wear to the materials in this home to the love that surrounds me, it all came from some form of Spirit to give me life. I offer my gratitude and I feel myself fill up. Suddenly, this morning, I wasn’t there anymore. There was nothing to fill up. I was just a living, breathing part of Life with no separation. Breathing in, breathing out. It was blissfully peaceful and electrifying all at the same time. There was no need to hold on to anything, to fill anything.

~~~

Mid-morning, I went shopping for the monthly wine supply. I asked the cashier if she was ready for Christmas. She said, “Yes, all except for my husband. I can’t come up with what to get him.”

I said, “My honey and I have decided to give each other experiences instead of gifts. We give each other a nice meal out or a weekend getaway or a vacation or theater tickets.”

I watched her light up as she considered this possibility. She reflected over scanning a few bottles. “You know, you’ve given me a great idea. I wonder what I could do… You know, he upgraded us to first class for our Hawaii trip as his present. I can’t top that.”

I queried, “Is there some experience you’d like to have in Hawaii?”

She grinned, “Wow, I could buy tickets for something and surprise him!”

I nodded. She finished scanning wine. I paid the bill and wished her a Merry Christmas. She looked me in the eye and said, “Merry Christmas to you to and THANK YOU.”

~~~

At lunch, I met my friend Peggy at a Chinese restaurant. We had an engaging conversation about remaining peaceful during the holidays. She gave me a Christmas ornament with a picture of Scott and I in it and I was so touched she had done that. What a sweet and thoughtful gift. She said, “It was an inspiration. When you showed me this picture (taken on our 5th anniversary), I knew I needed to get this for you.”

A few minutes later, our waitress showed up unexpectedly (we already had our lunches) carrying a platter of chicken lo mein. “Would you ladies like to have this? Someone just sent it back and I hate to throw it out.” We lit up and accepted her gracious offer. I’ll never know why she picked us out of all her tables to offer it to. I left her a $20 tip.

~~~

In the evening, I had a long conversation with my friend, Debs. She told me the story of a really rough day she had after I wrote the Let Go post in Musings. She wanted me to know how it had helped her through that day. She was struggling with being home ill and alone, and the old abandonment fears were closing in on her.  “I didn’t reach for a distraction like the TV, I just sat in my chair with myself and my fear.” Then she described passing through the fear, the pain of feeling abandoned and alone, and feeling love fill her. She knew she was loved and she saw how she abandons herself. In that moment, she promised to stop doing that, to stop looking outside herself for what is always there inside of her. She said, “Now I’m not so afraid of being home alone.” She knows that isn’t really true anymore. She is never alone.

I thanked her for sharing this beautiful experience with me. I admitted that I feel compelled by Spirit to write in this blog, but sometimes I wonder if anyone reads it, if it is helpful. Her sharing inspires me to keep writing, keep sharing.

And then we came up with a whole bunch more material to reflect on and write about.

Let Go

I feel part of myself clinging to old ways of doing and thinking, trying to keep hold of something familiar in the midst of all that is disappearing. At the same time I keep praying to be free, to be able to let go of that which has caged me my whole life.

In my prayer I am asking for Spirit to take away all my small, OCD thinking and doing that keeps me imprisoned in tension, caged with fear.

Spirit laughs, You have to let go. I can’t take it if you don’t let go. LET GO.

But, I’m afraid to let go. Isn’t it just my thinking, doing, serving that keeps me alive? Isn’t that my only value to others, to the world? If I let go, won’t I end up crazy, homeless, worthless?

So, you’re only valuable if you are thinking, doing, serving? Is that true?

I’m not sure of that anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure that kind of thinking is what put me in the cage in the first place.

You are beloved to Me as you are. There is nothing you have to do to prove your worth. There is nothing you can do “out there” that will make you more beloved than you already are. STOP, LET GO, BE. If nothing else, it will be a novel experience for you. (more laughter)

I do have to admit this is funny. I want to be free of something that I am fiercely clinging to with every ounce of my waning strength.

Why do you think I am taking your strength, your ability to do, to move, to go out from YourSelf?

At this point, I have no words, only laughter.

Where did I go?

Something odd is going on in the wake of my hip replacement–I seem to be disappearing. Or, at least, the me I’ve known on the outside. Looking back, I know this has been going on for awhile. But now it seems to be accelerating.

Last week I threw a bunch of my shoes in a bag to give away. This week I tossed in my makeup and toenail polish. Today, I wrote a letter announcing I’m giving up my studio/office where I have taught belly dance, yoga and tai chi for the past 4 years. I have decided I enjoy being in the water more than I enjoy being on land. I used to have to be busy and on the move all day long. Now I can spend hours sitting in a sunbeam, petting the cat and meditating.

Where did I go?

A calm voice in my head asks, “So, who have you lost? Aren’t you still here?”

I recognize this as the voice of my ever-present Witness who watches my ever-changing life unfolding. This Presence is always here, calmly and patiently watching and recording it all, and occasionally, abruptly changing the direction of my outer life. I think this is the part of me that is part of God or Spirit. It is that which never changes. I find it in my meditation, when I drop below the waves of day-to-day thinking and feeling, and into the Ocean of Awareness.

“So, who has disappeared?”

The who that used to care about those shoes, who wouldn’t go out in public without makeup or toenail polish, who took pride in a body that was strong and moved gracefully, who thought she was only what she could do for or give to others, the one whose only value was doing and not being.

“Do you miss her?”

No, actually, I don’t. She was a lot of work, and I’m tired. I’m relieved to be rid of her. I don’t quite believe she’s gone. I’m afraid she’ll come back and take over again.

But, then there are other parts of my human personality who are afraid of losing her. There is a childlike part who tries to fit in and find playmates in this world. She finds the changes of direction distressing. She doesn’t know what to tell her playmates. She’s afraid they won’t want to play anymore. There’s an adult part who is desperately trying to balance all this and make sure the bills are paid, there’s food in the frig, and the bed got made this morning. There’s a part who is Scott’s partner, my mother’s daughter, my friend’s friend, my aunt’s niece. I suppose there are thousands of parts of me who relate in some way to the outside world and they are all afraid of becoming obsolete, or unacceptable.

“That which is no longer needed does become obsolete, disappears, passes away into something else, transforms. Let it be.”

~~~

Well now, isn’t this interesting? Only part of me is fading away, a part I don’t need anymore. I’m happier and more serene, even if I’m a little lost at the moment. I know the cat likes me better. Scott is thrilled (he told me so). And, honestly, it’s not about what other’s think anymore. I’m finally free to be ME, whoever that is.