Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lent - Day 21

I had a feeling that if I just committed to this path, then something would appear that would guide me to my next step.  Today, I read about this.Choosing to Fast.

And this is my next step.  For the remainder of Lent, I will fast 24-28 hours each week.  This is an offering to myself.  A chance to go a little deeper into my relationship to food and drink.  And perhaps to find a way out of my emotional eating addictions.

I know it's small - but in some way, I also hope that I am part of something bigger that moves our government into action that makes sense in this budget process.  I'm not going to get preachy here. But I do believe, along with Thomas Jefferson, that the essential role of government is to protect the powerless from the powerful - especially when they would abuse that power over them. Just think about it.  This applies to protection from enemies, foreign and domestic.  This applies to protecting the free flow of information.  This applies to basic human rights - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

So I'll be fasting the rest of this week - from tomorrow morning until Saturday morning.  Check in with me to see how it's going. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lent - Day 19 & 20

Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing,
there is a field. I'l meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
RUMI

Someone sent me this today.  They had no idea where I was spiritually, what I've been trying to do these past weeks - and how here at the half way point I was ready to give up.   They just shared something with me that had been meaningful to them.  And suddenly I see what I am supposed to do now.
I am supposed to give up.  Not in the way I was thinking.  Not by forgetting my vows and commitment.  But rather by surrendering to the struggle and simply being with it.  By letting myself be vulnerable and sitting with my feelings of fear and loss. 
I am halfway through.  I am at the point on the path where I can no longer pretend that things are going to be okay. I have to keep going forward into my broken-heartedness.  I've reached the crossroads that says - "Go here.  Have courage.  Be present to your fears.  Be tender with yourself.  Be here." 

It's time to sit with my feelings and let them be.  Not try to understand them.  Not try to change them or shift them in anyway.  Just sit with them.  And really feel them.  Be vulnerable and sit where "the world is too full to talk about."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lent - Days 16, 17 & 18

This is my father.  Today is the 30th anniversary of the worst day of my life.  March 27, 1981, my father died, 10 days after suffering a fatal stroke.  He was 67 years old.  I was 21.  And my life was changed.  It's pointless to say what my life would have been had he not died.  I only know what was.
My father was a kind man.  He was generous, to a fault.  He was hard working and provided the best he could for his family.  And it was quite a family.  7 children, 4 boy and 3 girls.  I was the last.  All of us finished high school.  5 of us went on to college, 4 of us finished.  We had a big rambling house with 5 bedrooms.  We may not have had the best things, but we were warm and feed and loved.  
My father was born on the eve of the First World War.  He lived though the Great Depression and served in the Second World War, leaving behind a wife with 2 small children and one on the way.  After the war, he and my mother moved from Los Angeles to Grants Pass, Oregon where I was born and where he died.
Daddy was remarkably demonstrative for a man of his generation.  He didn't hold back on his love for his children and grandchildren.  He adored my mother and we all knew there was never another woman for him. 
We were his life.  I can't remember him ever saying he "didn't have time" for us or "later".  He worked 5 days a week and half days on Saturday.  Saturday afternoons he would go by the church and get things ready for Sunday morning Mass.
He loved sports of all kinds.  Television was a miracle to him.  He could watch sporting events from around the world and chores around the house were timed to make sure he saw football games, Indy car races and ABC's Wide World of Sports.
He believed in plain speaking. When I was about 11 or 12, we were watching a crime drama on TV (a genre which I watch and love to this day) and someone was being investigated for rape.  I asked my daddy what rape was.  A question I'm sure must have started him sweating.  But he quickly assessed my age and intelligence and simply said, "It's when a man forces a woman to have sex."  It was the simplest explanation and answered my question.  
He believed in right and wrong, God and the Golden Rule.  He treated everyone with respect and honor.  I never heard him say a bad thing about anyone, except maybe Richard Nixon.  He was appalled that anyone, let alone the President of the United States, thought themselves above the law. He paid his taxes without complaint.  He paid his mortgage and bills.   Health Insurance was something we didn't have until I was a young child.  He and my mother used to say that the only bills they would always have to pay were Sears and the Grants Pass Clinic.  (The Clinic was next door to our house and all the staff knew who we were.  Every scrape and bump was treated with kindness and some were probably not even charged for.)
I often wonder what my father would make of this world today.  How people are so often discarded as replaceable.  How basic care and comfort are not available for all citizens of the greatest country on the planet.  How his own wife had to rid herself of every material good of value in order to find a place where she would live out her last days. How his precious grandchildren have gone into debt gaining an education and means to make a living.  How his daughter has lived all these years without his unconditional love and support. 
My mother said he suffered from depression.  And I'm sure he felt that he was not doing everything possible for his family.  But he never let us feel it.  We saw his love.  His joy.  His laughter. His tears of pride.  His dedication.  
I love him now more than I did then.  I understand him more now.  I miss him more.  Now. 

Roger Merrill Watt  April 8, 1913- March 27, 1981.  Husband of Mildred.  Father of James, Judith, Nancy, Robert, Thomas, Nicholas and Katherine.  Grandfather of Andrew, James, Michael, Christopher, Peter, Nancy, Nicole, Natalie, Margaret, Jason, Sarah, Roger, Matthew, Dawn and Bridgete.  Mentor to many.  Friend to all. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lent - Days 14 & 15

This is getting really hard.  I know that something is happening because of the great disquiet I am feeling these days.
Such frustration though.  I'm feeling so good one moment - clear and focused and optimistic; so sure that good things are right there, just waiting for me.
Then almost out of nowhere - I careen into depths of sadness and tears and like my insides are being torn away.  I guess they are.  Not my physical insides of course, but my spiritual insides.  Old beliefs are fighting to stay active and my newer, better self is fighting them, wearing them down.  It's like there's a war going on 24/7 and all I can do is wait for the outcome - try to negotiate a peaceful surrender. 
The ego never goes quietly does it?
When am I going to stop being prey to ever wicked, nasty, horrible attack that comes looking for me?
When am I going to look at myself and know the real beauty that lives there; and stop hating myself, kicking myself, beating myself for every little wrong I have done?
When am I going to find peace with myself? And how do I even know what that looks and feels like?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lent - Days 13 & 14

I'm sneezing and sniffling again.  But this time I'm fairly certain it's allergies.  I moved to this apartment 4 years ago on April 1.  And every April since then, I have suffered mightily at this time of year.  So one of the trees that are starting to bud is most certainly the cause.  Time to break out the Zyrtec.
The allergies are also making sleep difficult.  Zyrtec should help that, too.  I hope.  Because I need to sleep!!
Other than the allergies, I'm doing fine.  My bread craving seems to have subsided. 
I wish I saw some change in my body, but I guess it's too much to ask after only 2 weeks.
I'm feeling a little creative spark returning.  I'm wanting to spend more time on my book.  It's a bit frustrating right now, but I hope to start carving out blocks of time for it.
Spring is definitely in the air.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lent - Days 11 & 12

I don't watch the news much.  It's not that I don't care, but rather that I find that most news broadcasters anymore tend to dwell on the sensational, the gruesome, the horrible, the fearful.  And I don't choose to live in fear. 
I try to live in hope, in possibility.  I try to stay informed so that my choices are well thought out and reasoned.
So today, I find myself in pain as war is erupting in another part of the world.  As nature exacts pain on another part.  As economies tumble and struggle to rebuild and tumble again.
So I'm going to focus on three things I know are true.
I know my daughter is the one person I would do anything for.
I know that even when I don't know the best thing for me, somehow I always stumble into goodness.
And I know that wine is the best use for a grape that could ever have been thought up.
I miss my wine.
And my bread.
But somehow this will all come out alright.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lent - Days 9 & 10

I woke up this morning to bright, beautiful sun streaming through the window.  Now the wet rooftops are releasing steam into the morning air as they dry out - attempt to shed the days of downpour and cold.  It is possible that spring will finally arrive.
And in my adventure of discovery, it is possible that spring will come. My little seed of faith that I have struggled to keep alive in the long dark days of winter may at last be finding roots.  And it is not surprising that these roots are my family - my family of birth and my family of choice.  Everyone that I have let in to my heart has blessed my life in ways I am only now beginning to understand..
Life is not a straight line.  It is, like Sir Paul said, a long and winding road. It doubles back upon itself and goes in circles.  We cross over our own path and sometimes we take the wrong turn and go back over road we have traveled before. We see things we missed the first (or second or third) time we walked this way.  And we avoid the potholes and paths that led us into danger.  So when we come to that crossroad again, we know enough to say - Yes, I go this way again and see what else I can discover - or - No. That way has only brought me pain and loss and I choose to go a different road now.
I think that I am near that crossroad again.  And when I come to that crossroad, I pray I will choose well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lent - Days 7 & 8

It's been a week now.  And I'm doing pretty good.  I really wanted a sandwich today - warm bread, melted cheese - comfort.  It's cold again.  Wet and windy and cold.  And I want warm comfort.
I finished the most beautiful book last night.  The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  It's about a 54 year old, lumpy, unseen, unknown, unheard, concierge of an apartment building in Paris where the apartments are huge and old and grand, handed down from generation to generation.  Renee is happy to be invisible because the people she works for could never comprehend the complex person she is.  And she sees beauty in delicate camellias, well made tea and cookies, Japanese art films, and Dutch masters. 
"Human longing.  We cannot cease desiring, and this is our glory, and our doom. Desire! It carries us and crucifies us, delivers us every new day to a battlefield, where, on the eve, the battle was lost;..."
Writing like this makes me desire to write and slays me on the battlefield because I don't know if I'll ever be able to write like that. But I cannot cease desiring. It is my glory, and my doom.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent - Day 6

Last night was miserable.  My neighbors were watching some action movie with a boom boom soundtrack until well after midnight.  Tonight is quiet.  I think the manager has finally spoken to them and gotten through to them that they have to adjust their habits to live with everyone else here.  Late night movies are fine - but not loud and booming!
I didn't get to sleep until well after 1:00 and had to be up at 6:00.  I was grouchy all day.  Well - until my sister Nancy called at lunchtime.  She'll be visiting with her daughter Nikki and our niece Maggie the first part of April.  I can't wait!  I'll get to hang with my sisters and nieces and laugh and cry and it will be so good.
Nancy and I talked about Mom and Dad, of course. And how tough this year has been for us so far.  But we are determined to shift and think positive and move forward. 
Toughen up and keep going.  That's what we do.  But it is nice to not feel alone in the process.
Well, it's only 9:30 now, but I have to make up for my bad night with a good one tonight.  I will be teaching tomorrow and have to be at my shiny best.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lent - Day 5

I was watching Big Love today and suddenly found myself sobbing.  This year, they have had Nicki dealing with being a mom to her teen-age daughter - a daughter she had when she was herself a teenager as a product of a forced marriage.  Nicki has been unable to separate her feeling about what happened to her from what she wants her daughter's life to be.  And when she discovers that the girl has had a sexual relationship with her math tutor, she loses all ability to be reasonable. 
She sits on her daughter's bed and tells her that she is horrible, that no one will ever love her, that she is evil and unworthy of love.  Of course, Nicki is actually talking to herself - but the cost will be that her daughter is now shamed and lost and messed up.  The show wants us to believe that with enough love the girl will be fine.  But I know better.
While she may never have sat on my bed and told me in words that I was unworthy of love and shameful and obviously evidence of a sexual relationship between middle aged people who should have known better; my mother certainly left me feeling that no amount of love will ever remove the shame of who I am.
I've tried to love myself enough - to believe in myself enough - but right now - there will never be enough. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lent - Day 3 and 4

I missed posting last night.  I was pretty tired and my neighbors were being very noisy last night.  It made it very hard to concentrate.  I got to bed and as I was falling asleep, I realized I hadn't posted - but figured you would forgive me.

Today was a good day.  I had breakfast with my girls, Suzy, Jenn and Kat, which makes every Saturday a good day.  Then I did a little shopping and have spent the afternoon catching up on various things.

I'm still holding true to my Lenten commitments.  I've decided to share with you what it is I am "giving up."  Bread and wine.  This came about due to a discussion with a friend about systemic yeast infections and how she gave up sugar, bread, and alcohol for a couple months and is feeling more energy these days. It sounded like a good idea to me - but I love bread AND wine and I just wasn't sure I could do it.  Besides, it seemed a little pretentious to give up the things that symbolize Christ in the faith of my youth during a period in which I am supposed to be meditating on the importance of faith in my life.

But - I've been drinking more wine than I was comfortable with.  Not a lot, but more than I felt was good for me.  And bread, well, I considered all carbs, but that would be way too hard.  So I went with yeast breads, leavened breads, things that I love.  Bagels, toast, baguettes, English muffins.  Honestly, this has been harder than the wine.  Today in the grocery store, I stood in the bakery aisle and just inhaled deeply.  I felt like I was caught red handed with porn!

I just ate a nice little New York steak with a baked potato and I really wanted a glass of red wine to go along with it.  So tempting. 

I've been a little afraid of this weekend and actually then next two weeks or so.  You see, tomorrow, it will have been 30 years since I last spoke to my father.  It was on March 14, 1981, which I know is Monday, but on that Sunday afternoon, I called home to catch up with my parents.  I was in rehearsals for a new play that was going to be opening in April and so I wouldn't be going home for spring break that year.  I was 21.  I had lived on my own in Portland for 6 months.  I had a furnished studio with a Murphy bed and a tiny little kitchen. I had a sort of boyfriend.  I had my first featured role in a play.  Things were looking up! Everything I had dreamed about when I moved away was happening. 

When my dad answered the phone, I was so filled with hope and possibility, I just rattled on and on.  He listened patiently, asked me if my car was running good, if I needed money, all the usual dad things, then he gave the phone to my mom and I talked on to her for a bit.  Worried about the cost of a long distance call, we finally said good bye.  Three days later, my mother would call me and tell me that my dad was in the hospital after an apparent stroke.  It was bad.  And I should come home if at all possible. 

The stroke was in the brain stem and within a matter of hours, my father's brain activity had stopped.  He was dead; his body just didn't know it yet.  I managed to get home where my siblings helped me agree with my mother that unnecessary measures should not be taken.  I stood in that room where my father lay on a cooling blanket, because his body couldn't control its temperature, and I knew HE was no more.  But I didn't want to say goodbye. Yet I had to say goodbye.

I've lived 30 years with out my father.  I miss him every day. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent - Day 2

Well, as far as what I am forgoing for Lent, I did great today.  But it was sure tough.  Had a miserable day at work - one of those where I'm trying to track down errors and discrepancies and whenever I ask someone to explain something - I get the third degree.  If I'm there to track the budget and point out errors when mistakes are made is no reason to get upset.  Either you trust me or you don't.  And today I didn't feel a lot of love coming my way. 
Now that I'm home, I'm looking forward to giving myself the space to let go of the frustration and find that peace within myself.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent - Day One

All in all, a pretty good day.  I woke up late and really didn't have time to do a mini meditation to help me focus in on the day.  Still, I managed to focus on my goals and a do feel like there is a seed of something. 
Whether I am able to nurture the seed into something that flowers beautifully and fully is yet to be seen.  But today - I have hope.  And that is no small thing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Time in the Desert

Today is Mardi Gras, the last big day of celebration before the Catholic world goes into that period of Lent - 40 days until Palm Sunday and Holy Week.  It is meant to mark the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert before he entered Jerusalem and surrender to his death.
As a child, what I remember most about Lent was that we had to "give up" something that we really loved and offer it up to God.  My child always rebelled a little at this.  It felt like I was being punished for being Catholic.  Lots of my friends went to church, but they didn't have to give up chocolate or deserts or meat.  They didn't have to be extra nice to their siblings.  And they certainly didn't have to go to confession whenever they failed to do these things and accept more punishment.
As an adult, I realized that it was much more about using these 40 days as a way of growing closer to God.  It was less about giving up than it was about eliminating those earthly things that get in the way of our better self. 
I haven't observed Lent in several years.  And this year I feel the need to do it.  It's time for me to do a little desert work.  I'm not going to say specifically what I've chosen to "give up" because it's a very personal decision - between me and God.  But I do intend to chronicle my desert time, journal by way of this blog what these next 40 days will reveal to me. 
Now it's off to a little celebration before I head out into the wilderness, alone.  Just me.  And any of you who happen to follow along.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why is it so hard?

I've become addicted to Adele.  This young woman has a voice that just melts my heart.  I've had her new CD for 3 days now and I have my favorite tracks.  Oh wait, they are all my favorite.  :)

Seriously though, her voice and lyrics just rip into me in a way that I haven't experienced musically for many years now.  But there is a down side to this joy. 

"I often think about where I went wrong.  The more I do, the less I know."  This is from "Don't You Remember"  a song that wonders why a lost love seems to have completely wiped her from his mind.  I wish I could say that I have no idea what this feels like.  But of course there is that one who seems to have forgotten not only why he loved me, but that he ever loved me at. 

And so then I move on to Set Fire to the Rain - "There's a side to you that I never knew, never knew.  All the things you said, they were never true, never true.  And the games you played, you would always win, always win."   This is that phase where you just rage at the stupidity of yourself - falling for one who so clearly didn't love YOU - the real YOU - the you that you wish, just once, someone could see as you see yourself, the best of you and the worst of you and they love you anyway.

I've wanted this for as long as I can remember.  To know, with absolutely no doubt in my mind, as those arms wrapped around me and those words were spoken to me...that it was really me who was being loved.  Nobody's perfect.  But just once to feel perfectly loved. 

Eventually, you have to let go and let them take it all - everything you gave them and everything you wanted to give - take it all with my love.   I dare you to let me love you.  I dare you to give me the chance to prove how worthy I am.  I know it's not easy to love me.  If I've learned one thing in 52 years, it's that I am a rare sort of bird.  I feel deeply.  I weep easily.  I laugh easily too.  I am small and fearful and petty and silly.  But I am also strong and wise and true and faithful.  If you have my love, you have it always.  Whatever I say or do - I will always love you.

"I heard that you found a girl.  That you're married now and you're settled down.  Guess she gave you things I couldn't do...I had hoped you'd see my face and be reminded that for me...it isn't over."



Great!  Now I've managed to cry my mascara all over my eyes.  I think I need to eat something and walk away from the coffee.  I guess I'm just finally willing to feel the pain all the way through.  How I've failed to be what he wanted - what any of them wanted.  But I have found a way to be me.  And it hurts all the way down...to want to have that person loved completely.