Live Like a Mighty River—Deep Wisdom from Poet Ted Hughes

Here, my friends, is a letter that is worth reading. Click on the quote below to read the entire letter. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.

What was I thinking? /facepalm

Lately, I’ve been feeling the “hey, you haven’t been earning any money” pressure. Bills happen and I need to be contributing financially to the family, in addition to what I do around the house (which isn’t a lot when I’ve been feeling crappy and migrainey and sick). So, I think, what can I be doing to earn some cash?

Well, I have lots of ways to do that. This blog for example. The glass art I (used) to do. Writing. Problem is, I haven’t really done them lately. Now, we can get all up into “why haven’t you done that? what is holding you back? why do you pull away from success?” and I can spend a lot of time analyzing it and trying to figure things out. And I still won’t be actually *doing* anything about it.

To be fair, I have applied at a couple of places around town. The local small-town theatre facility (came very close to landing that one but failed for lack of recent experience in theatre) and the local independent bookstore (a store! full of books! yeah, I could spend my time in there). In the meantime, my brain is saying “you’re not earning any money. you’re not earning any money. you need to earn money.” (Yes, my brain speaks in lower-case. Deal with it.)

So I see the ad for the local fast-food coffee place job fair and something says this is what I should do. I’ve spoken informally to folks who work there and even stopped by last night to pick up an application. Yes, sometimes I am slow for a smart person.

Poking about on the interwebs this morning, I came across http://www.nojobformom.com/ and had my facepalm moment. Why the hell am I thinking about working 20 hours a week for minimum wage slinging coffee with a bunch of disaffected teenagers when I could write about things that interest me and make a lot more dough? Can I not spell r-e-s-i-d-u-a-l-s? What is wrong with me?

Okay, before I go chasing that particular red herring, let me stop and breathe. Now that I’ve had my epiphany, it’s time to lay off the self-flagellation and ask our DBT question:

What is the most effective thing I can do to move forward?

This post is, itself, the answer. I can start writing! Ms. No Job for Mom has a free ebook on how to get started, so that sounds like a good place to get started! Already downloaded and begun. And, instead of scheduling myself for 16 hours a week of minimum-wage mayhem, I can schedule myself for 16 hours a week of income-generating writing. And I don’t even have to apply, or interview myself, or anything!

Whew, that was close. I almost fell victim to “I’m a loser who doesn’t deserve anything but a crap job” and “You’ll never succeed anyway” thinking. Disaster averted. Yay!

A New Day

Every morning is a new day. As I continue to struggle with various aspects of my illness and mind, I realize that I have been depressed and grieving for several months now. Last August, Bryan’s youngest brother Jay was diagnosed with cancer. 24 days later, he died. In between, his parents disowned him and then repented, his ex-girlfriend Katie almost lost her job because she was caring for him, and I helped Katie figure out how to tell their 5-year-old daughter that her daddy was dying.

Then we bought a house. Then I was sick for two months. Then it was February. Who wouldn’t be depressed and grieving?

I still struggle daily with my anger at Jay’s parents for how they treated him. Invoking forgiveness and inviting it in does not seem to lessen my anger and resentment. Letting go is needed, yet I don’t seem to be able to. However, I shall continue to open to forgiveness, seeking a way to let go of the anger and resentment. Someday…

Today is a new day, bright with possibility. I want to make the most of it, to continue on my journey of healing, to cure the pain that still fills my heart. There’s lots to discuss: art, DBT, drugs, ordination, teaching, mental health, mental illness, Zen. I shall endeavour, in the coming weeks and months, to put hands to keyboard and start expressing what is inside of me.

I offer it all for the purpose of helping others.

love and bows to you all…

Ch…ch…ch…changes

My apologies for my lengthy absence/silence. The last year has been a time of deep work and profound changes. I find it hard to write—words just don’t seem adequate somehow. Yet, here I am.

The work that was started on the cushion and continued in DBT continues to deepen. Each morning, I sit outside and rediscover myself in the nesting robins feeding their young or the fantastically loud “blatt” of the trumpeter swans. I watch the working of my mind and am usually aware when my emotions spin out of control. Funny thing, that awareness. First, it acts like a clutch, enabling me to disengage when my emotional engine goes nuts. This is a good thing. The engine may be racing, but I’m not laying down rubber, yay! But it doesn’t slow the emotions down. It does help me to keep from piling on *old* emotions.

What do I mean by that? This is new for me too, so please bear with. Previously, for example, Bri would say or do something that would trigger me. Suddenly, I would be flooded with emotions:

  • reactionary anger: a learned emotion. This is how my mother reacted when I did the same thing, so it’s my hard-wired reaction. My most embarrassing anger, cuz it just tends to come out and it tends to be very harsh and unflexible.
  • remembered anger & pain. This is how I felt as a child being abused at my mother’s hands.
  • shame and frustration. See the first bullet. Unfortunately, shame tends to generate more anger to cover it up and make it go away. It’s a vicious circle.

Somewhere around the beginning of June, there was a profound shift. Bri’s actions still triggered me, but it was just the reactionary anger, which I was able to clearly see. Since then, I’ve been able to handle those reactions without adding in emotional memories of my own shit or judgements of the situation. It’s like I can simply see the situation for what it is, without piling on the emotional baggage.

This has been such a profound change in my life that I have spent the last month “checking” it. Asking B if I seem different (yes), asking if I still seem different (yes). Checking in with myself. Yep—something has changed.

As if that weren’t enough, I applied for and was accepted to be one of the artists in a group project that Workman Arts is producing for Nuit Blanche. So my first art show ever is gonna be a big one. {grin} I don’t like to start small. This is also no small matter. I’m creating a sculpture representing a woman who lived at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane for many years. She insisted that everyone call her Angel Queen XIII, and they did. My kind of broad ;^). Anyway, I’m learning about sculpture and planning this life-sized work of art. For someone who is trying to transition careers and become an artist, this is about as big as it gets.

Oh yeah, there is one more thing. My ex-husband, the one who had a sex-change operation before our divorce was even completed, apologized in his her own way: she made me the beneficiary of her life insurance policy. Her common-law spouse at the time of her death wasn’t too happy about this, precipitating a court challenge. Toronto courts are overloaded and slow, so it’s taken over a year to get the case heard. But I’ve had my day in court and the judge ruled in my favour and I can’t believe we’re gonna be out of debt finally and able to buy a house. So, yet another huge thing. And not just because we can buy a house, but because this allows me to be an artist and a homemaker and not worry about going back to work at a job that would likely crush my soul again. So I can let go of another thing that I’ve been worrying about ever since I left work on disability two years ago.

Needless to say, such major changes are dangerous territory to navigate when one has an emotional disorder. In spite of my new awareness, or possibly because of it, I have been doing a lot of pulling back over the past while. My emotions are all over the place: the court stuff brings back memories of my ex and his transition to womanhood, an extremely painful and difficult period in my life. As those arise, I am doing my best to deal with them and not let the past poison the present. The money stuff, while good, is also change and creates emotional waves to be dealt with.

Most days, I feel good if I get a decent dinner made and some time spent in the studio on one of the various projects on the go. Things need to get finished. Plus planning to buy a house, relocate Brianna, figure out how to switch schools, when would it work best for her, how will this all work. I’ve been verging on overwhelmed much of the time, though I’ve been coping with it. Actually, I’ve been coping rather well, and part of that coping has been my pulling back to just the essentials. So I apologize if I’ve neglected my friends in favour of my family—just now, that’s what I need to take care of myself.

And that’s where I’m at. Though it is difficult sometimes, it is a good place. May you find peace where ever you find yourself.

Sunday morning musings

I woke up this morning crying. Looking deeper, I realized I was grieving for everything this illness has cost me and those around me. I feel guilty for imposing this on those I love. Laying in bed, I watched the guilt and pain and shame swirl around. And then I let it go and focused on scritching the kitty who had climbed on top of me and was furiously kneading away. I let the present pull me away from that morass.

I saw my illness as an aneurysm. My job is to clamp off the many blood vessels that feed the monster: physical activity, art practice, therapy, work stress, home stress, family stress, money stress, PMS/PMDD—so many factors it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Pick one and focus on it…

PMDD

Research shows a possible link between ovulation and PMDD. It occurs to me that there are new medications on the market that supress ovulation for months at a time. When they first came out, I thought it was ridiculous to be on the pill simply to not have to deal with having a period. And it is! But, it’s a very reasonable treatment consideration for someone like me. Next steps? Book an appointment with my family doctor to discuss it. Research these birth control pills online.

Family-wise, it’s a long weekend for us. House cleaning is in order, but needs to be balanced by play, including outdoor time.

I feel myself getting overwhelmed. Just thinking about all the things that need doing, my brain goes into panic mode. So ta for now.