Sunday, June 19, 2016

Miracles in the Mundane

I unzipped the black pull along suitcase. Tiny shells like crumbled crackers were settled in the corners. The smell of ocean flowed over the sides and I leaned in breathing deep. I tried my best to scrape them out with my fingers, but in the end it just seemed right to let the east mingle west on the plane ride home. Perhaps one day a dusting of broken shells from yet another Ocean will be added to the mix. Now I could be finishing my packing, but instead I am drinking Beer at the pub and watching the sunset. I live in a beautiful part of the world. I have good friends and a great community in which to raise my kids. I am blessed. Sometimes I think I want more. Sometimes I try to push too much into a small space. I limit the happiness I feel from what I already have in order to fit in the joy from something new in. Problem is, the joy from the new is fleeting and unstable. I need to keep my gratitude for the miracles that may otherwise become mundane. The mundane is a miracle. We look for grandiose signs; burning bushes, angels and resurrection, but our own chests rise every minute with no conscious effort. Literally more than a miracle every minute takes place inside your own body. People are looking to connect with God, what they don't realize is that they're connected already. They expect God to speak in a big booming voice or in tongues. But God whispers in spinning poplar leaves, rumbles in your heart beat and laughs with thunder. Everything you experience with your senses is God telling you: I am here. I am here. I am here. Faith is answering back: I know. I know. I know. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hairdressers and Dating in your 30's

Even though I have been sporting a very easy to maintain hairstyle, it does require me to get a trim every couple of weeks.  I found a hair salon downtown that I really like, so I go there.  My last hair dresser and I had a great conversation about dating in our 30's.  It was so reaffirming to have someone on exactly the same page.  Here's what we noticed has changed for us:

1. We know right away if someone is not going to work for us. Guys rarely make it past the first date. "It's there or it's not. I don't waste my energy or his if there's no spark right away." She said.  Agreed.

2."I don't argue anymore, If I don't like how someone treats me and it continues I just leave. I don't tell them; don't do this it pisses me off.  I don't expect other people to change their behaviour for me."  "Yes," she agreed. "Expecting people to change just creates resentment."

3. I don't set rules in order to avoid situations in which I would feel my romantic interest would "cheat." If there's anything I've learned, it's that if someone is going to have sex with someone else, they will.  No matter how many rules are set.  The rules simply create stress in the relationship and a general feeling of "I don't trust you."  In fact, to take it a bit further, who am I to even expect them not to sleep with other people?  If the person I'm romantically involved with really wants to have sex with other people, then maybe they should be.  My only responsibility is that if they do sleep with other people, is to ask myself: Is this type of relationship a good fit for me? If no, then I wish them well and move on, if yes than okay, I'll continue. 

It's incredibly freeing having this outlook.  I had it when I was much younger, before the idea of marriage entered my mind. Marriage is no longer a factor for me, not that I wouldn't consider getting married in the future; it's just not my planned destination, the journey is what I'm interested in.  

Suddenly dating and relationships no longer seem so daunting.  Many single women in their 30's have warned me about dating at this age.  Yes, there were some awkward starts however, generally, I've quite enjoyed it and made some new friends in the process.  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

To My Dad

Amongst the many articles about rape culture and fathers perpetuating it, I want to take a moment to give a shout out to my dad.  To my father, who taught self defense (which I absorbed via osmosis) to the youth in our community, females and males equally.  While doing so enforcing the idea that no one should touch you without your permission, and vice versa.  To my father who didn't hang mildly pornographic magazines objectifying women in his gym.  To my father who focused on building self confidence via personal challenges and self discipline. To my dad who never uttered a word about women "asking" for it.  To my dad who never used the term "slut" or "whore" when describing a female. The sexual jokes you made (which were rare in my presence) were never degrading towards women.

I didn't realize until I got older, that my father was the exception.  That he was surrounded by a rape culture, yet never perpetuated it in my presence.  So, thank you dad, for being a decent guy and setting the standards for the behaviour I will and will not accept from men in my life.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

White Coats and Small Steps

I suffer from white coat syndrome.  Really though, I feel anxiety handing over my body to anyone who I percieve feels they are entitled to touch it.  Anyone with authority.  This is not just a childhood trauma thing, I have experienced and witnessed caregivers do horrid and disrespectful things to people's bodies through out my adult life.  I have seen coercion.

My last ultrasound I tried to go it alone.  I did okay, but I think I can make it easier on myself.  I deserve that. So I called the hospital social worker.  When I talk about my past and my emotional needs, I hate feeling vulnerable.  I hate the sound of compassion in the voice of the counsellor/caregiver, it reminds me that what has happened is awful and it makes me feel weak and weepy.  So I make sure that I approach it in a very formal way.  In other words I talk "shop".  I've read the books, I know the terms professionals use and I use them.  I told her I was looking for a trauma informed caregiver to talk to the ultrasound staff before my appointment.
"I disassociate." I tell her in a frank manner. "It's my coping technique, however I realize that can be hard to be around someone doing that.  So if you could please explain to them, that when I go blank, I am not in a bad place.  I'm simply not there.  If you could ask them not to try to pull me back with small talk or tell me to breath, that would be very beneficial as those things bring me back to the current moment which I find to be very uncomfortable."  She explains that she would be happy to talk to the staff for me ahead of time.  She asks if I want her to come in and sit to be there to remind the staff to not talk to me unless necessary.  I feel instant rejection to that offer. I know why: Firstly, she is sounding sympathetic and compassionate, can't she tell I need this conversation to be emotionaless? No, I tell myself.  She's not recognizing your formality and that's okay. Secondly, I didn't want to impose.  Ugh.  I roll my eyes at myself.
"Yes. That would be very helpful. Thank you."
I told her I would make the appointment for when she is working at the hospital and call her back and
let her know... But I tell myself I'll do that tomorrow because by the end of the conversation my hands are shaking and I just don't have it in me to do anything else requiring emotional strength on this particular subject today.  So I compartmentalize and begin to write my blog about it in my head as this gives me the feeling of control and purpose over the situation.  Then I throw on my sexy leather jacket and walk to my favourite coffee shop, and happily put aside that which can be dealt with tomorrow.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Lumps and Life

So it's that time of year... it's time to have my breasts covered in goop and sound shot through them, because of a few little lumps above my left nipple.  They aren't even considered to be pre cancerous technically.  It's just that women who have them are up to twice as likely to develop breast cancer.  So I am encouraged to do monthly breast exams (Yep, the lumps are still there) and a yearly ultrasound to see if there are any changes indicating another biopsy is necessary.  Last year, I was biopsy free.  The year before, not so lucky.

I always act spiritually tough during these times, like I'm strong enough not to think about the big C while I await test results.  I tell myself worrying about it won't do any good. But every year I break down into tears of relief when the results are benign or negative for growth. Apparently I was just suppressing my emotions, despite the fact I thought I was just really cool with the whole situation.  Kinda seems like the theme of my life.

So over the next few weeks I'll be hugging my kids a little tighter, perhaps being a bit more spontaneous than usual (skinny dipping anyone?).  Hell, I might even buy myself that TARDIS purse I want.  Breast lumps can be a great way to remind you of how alive you are and to take advantage of every moment.  

Life is too precious for mediocre coffee. Well really for mediocre anything...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Happiness vs Craziness

Over the last two months I have been joy filled.  Rarely am I sad or upset for longer than an hour, but it is more than that.  I feel like I am a miracle, correction: I know that I am a miracle.  I also know that all of you are too.  When I was a child, I talked to God all of the time.  We had a non stop conversation in my head.  By that, I mean that I spoke to God constantly and I could feel God listening, his (raised Catholic) presence was reassuring and calm.  Once I was having very strange stomache symptoms and they were looking into testing for me.  I was very scared, I prayed for a whole night for God to make it go away, to make everyone forget that I was sick.  "Please make this like it never happened, make it disappear."  It did.  Nothing was ever said or done about it again and the symptoms simply petered off. God and I were tight like that.  But time went on and I began to feel alienated from my creator.  As my sexual appetite increased, my shame of it caused me to end my open door policy with God.  There were thoughts I did not want God to have access to, so the distance grew between us.  I no longer believed that God would listen to my prayers, in fact, I wasn't even sure if God existed anymore.  Those were some very lonely times for me.  As a teenager I learned about mortality.  I began to meditate daily, I decided that I wanted to live a good and meaningful life.  I could feel my compassion growing, my connection to the Earth and my connection to living things. I did not equate this with God though.  To me, God was a person in the sky judging me and though I knew I was a good person, I grew to resent the thought of him.  I continued this belief system.  As my marriage, and later, engagement were crumbling around me, I never asked God for help.  I had myself, I was good enough.  There was however, a deep desire to recieve help.  I think that it was a subconscious call to God.  It was answered.  Everything I wanted or needed to make my transition smoother from my unhealthy relationship to freedom came to me.  I only needed to think, "I could really use a __________." And someone would offer me one within 24 hours. I began to really feel that someone was looking out for me.  I began to practise gratitude for these gifts, but still avoided the term "God" when referring to said force of love and protection.

Time went on, as did my healing.  I journaled, I blogged. As I did so answers came to me.  I was consulting a higher power and accessing it via written word.  I didn't recognize that at first. When I attempted to solve a problem by writing about it, thoughts came out of the blue, thoughts accompanied by a huge sense of relief, sometimes accompanied by a flood of tears.  Like when you're having a rough day/week/year and that one person shows you such kindness with a touch or a few words and suddenly you are a blubbering sobbing mess and you are grateful for the safe space they made for you to be exactly that.  So started my regular conversations with God. Via type. 

Through a series of small miracles and a good friend, who I have come to love dearly, my conversations with God moved beyond print and into thought.  For the first time I heard God's voice not as my own.  I contacted my friend, a little freaked out.  He laughed: "It has begun." He told me. Then he told me he calls it conversing with his higher self.

Since then all the shame that I felt about my thoughts has disappeared.  My open door policy has now become one of no door whatsoever.  Every thought I have now is considered a prayer.  God shares my entire existence with me.  From my silly thoughts and observations to my deepest desire to be free of certain fears, God listens.  Sometimes God even communicates in the form of coincidences, running into that one person who will give me the perspective necessary to heal from a wound that has been on my mind... A little nature made heart shape when I'm feeling unworthy... My prayers are answered on a regular basis.  Every thought is a prayer.  Every physical sensation has become an opportunity to revel in this world that has been created for us and therefore deepen my connection to God.

So society could look at this post and see someone who is manic.  They would see someone choosing to believe  in a fairy tale.  Being a Christian in our society, is more than acceptable, but being someone who openly admits that they talk to God and that God talks back... Well, let's not get carried away now.  That's bordering on a mental health issue.  I think that it's a sign of spiritual illness that our society discourages people from conversing with God.  God is suppose to be separate from man,
 I was taught as a child.  Only priests and prophets could speak to God,  I was merely a peasant and unworthy.  I must turn to the clergy and the Bible only for true spiritual guidance.  Despite my upbringing, I have realized that the church does not hold the patent on Devine communication. There is no monotheistic monopoly on God's guidance.

So here I am, living in the state of constant grace. I am not a mere optimist. I am blessed to be able to recognize this world and all that is in it as the amazing miracle that it is.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Tuck That Shoulder

I have this heart, my rib cage has proven time and time again that it is inadequate at keeping it safe from harm. So I carry it up my sleeve.  Sometimes I write it into a journal; abstract and digital, a false vulnerability.  All may view it, but unless you are amazing at code, you cannot touch it.  I quickly stuff it under my pillow as he walks into my bedroom.
Sometimes his hand will graze it in the early morning hours when he tucks his arm under my head.
I have been known to walk around with my heart in my hands, but do not let that cliche fool you, it merely allows me to stash it away quickly at any sign of danger. It's best to know where your heart is at all times.
"Don't fall." He warns me...
Like anyone wants to fall with their most precious cargo held out in front of them...