Posts Tagged ‘Psychology’

life with weather

More time has passed here, Gentle Reader. AS usual it has been closer to the Hell side of the equation than one would like. We had gale force winds and 3-5 feet of snow a week or so ago- and generally speaking? it doesn’t snow here, and if it does it’s a matter of inches. So this was different. Fortunately the Dog LOVED it and provided some moments of joy and levity as he flew through the snow, sunk down into it, gobbled mouthfuls up, and sprang up for another flight.

But different it was. To say the least. We were snowed in, in fact, which was kind of weird. We had no power for close to a week. Did I say how cold it was? No water anywhere but fortunately we had snow to melt, and to pack in the refrigerator so that part of it wasn’t Awful. There was also rainwater (yes, that too) to use to flush the toilet. One day a few days into the experience I was in our local grocery store on a fruitless quest for water, which was open because they had a HUGE generator, and a woman who works there and I were laughing uproariously about the excitement of having a flush toilet again….some time in the future. People were walking around in total stress mode- expectable given that there were about 42,000 people without power.

Some good things happened of course. I learned how to cook effectively on our wood stove. It’s a Jotul, which is the kind of stove the guy on New Scan Cooking lugs around for his outdoor soirees, and it is really quite extraordinary what cooking on wood is like. It’s FANTASTIC. We roasted cabbage and meat on the coals directly and it was a revelation. I made a kind of coq au vin (leftover red wine from the holidays) which was incredible, since I just put everything in a pan, covered it, put it on the stove, turned the chicken once and 40 minutes later, virtual perfection. The fact that the smoke from the candles made my lungs crunk up was almost an aside.

The real thing that happened, though, was this. Prisoners are used extensively here to fight fires and do road work, and this storm tore trees up by their roots and pulled huge limbs across roads and it was…horrible. There was a lot of sawing to be done before the power people could even get in, thus the prisoners. We wound up finally being able to get out of here and went on quests for water about three times. I waved and smiled at the Guys in Orange each time, as is my habit. The first time they squinted back at me with their Game Faces. By the third and last time, I actually got SMILES and waves back. It was a real moment of communication and understanding and from that standpoint, mind boggling, not to put too fine a point on it. It reminded me that we don’t, in fact, have to do earth shattering things to make a positive difference. We just have to be here. Now.

As difficult as that has been for some time now, it still turns out to be the basic instruction for not going totally bananas. Things look quite grim in this country right now, really, and every reminder one can receive about how love and kindness are the bottom line is a very good thing. Even when they are punctuated by lengthy periods of tooth grinding.

As always, blessings and thanks!

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back on the street again

Well, Gentle Reader, it HAS been a long time. Mercifully, however, another season in hell has completed and for once I think we may well have really, really Learned Something.

Last year was a doozy all the way around, and my little world’s bookends of death and fire were, while by no means extraordinary, quite beyond anything that had gone before. I was unprepared for the collapse that occurred, even though it turned out the Partner was not (having passed this way before, he knew what was going to happen). My body seemed to sense that I was planning on carrying on as usual, and it issued a firm and not gentle NO. Somehow it orchestrated every tendons’ going kaflooey at once- tendonitis, fasciitis (not the culturally induced kind in this case, either), tear ducts and alveoli. The brain suffered as well and there was very little that got done in the final analysis. A lot of sitting on the couch, deep breathing, and the ever special fearless and searching moral inventory.

The good news is that you really can change habits, especially once you realize how many things are just that: habits. Fear is a habit, really. Being in the wrong situation with the wrong people is a habit. Feeling that you have to constantly achieve to be accepted is a habit. The fact that the world is in ever increasing chaos reveals that what we were accustomed to thinking was real, and now turns out not to be…that pattern is a habit, too.

AS usual, it comes down to basics. The rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When they do unto you what you do not do unto them, time to go. No prevarication, no wishing, no falling back on habit. No blame and all of that sort of thing. I found it interestingly difficult to let go of some old resentments and attitudes until I realized that my habit was to feel those as supportive, instead of what they really were- anything but. The new practice of letting the day dictate itself instead of “having things to do”, does, just like they say, end up being far more productive than you could ever imagine. The realization that the thigh bone IS connected to the knee bone leads to integration and healing. Even the huge effort of overcoming all the fears that arise during such an intense change turns out to be simpler than you might think. Will I EVER be OK? is just a thought. Returning to the moment you’re in, attending to the requirements thereof, gets you to OK right on time. So, net net, I think I made it through yet another Dark Night. Of course, there was cooking.

I got on a dog biscuit kick, since I have a cookie cutter shaped like a dog bone. That reminded me of how much I used to like making rolled out and cut cookies. In another time, I made sugar cookies in shapes based on what people had in their yards that amused me (bears in their windows, pig statues in hidden gardens) and gave them to the respective creative neighbors. I hadn’t made any of these cookies for a long time and when I did this year? It was quite a success, a parade of bears and pigs and cows and Christmas trees and shooting stars and moons and hearts. Another night we had what I considered to be a personal triumph. Making all these things with paws that felt like they had nails in them was tricky but nonetheless I forged ahead, tried a new schedule for making sourdough bread, and had a good result. Then I made some ricotta, thinking I’d make ravioli for dinner. Think again, of course, because the weather has been horrendous and we had both a road washout and no power. I’d made filling for ravioli already, with the ricotta and chard from our perennial chard installation, but clearly any cooking was a non-starter, literally. So. I made SANDWICHES with the sourdough and the ricotta filling and we grilled them on the woodstove and they were wonderful. Like something one had actually Intended to Do, sort of thing. Evidence, truly, that staying in the moment pays off. And here is someone who really knows that, for sure:

Blessings and thanks and happy new year, let us hope anyway!

everything must go

anotherrealsky

I kid you not: this is pretty much how the sky looked the other night.  It had been a kind of luminous glowing Presence for a few minutes right before this and then a display of color began, of which this was the only picture I got.

One thing this place does, up the kabonga, is produce so much immediate cognitive dissonance that you just have to slow down.  So much beauty right in front of your nose. So much mind boggling weirdness right next to it.  Putting that on top of regular life now is enough to make anyone blow a gasket, but the good thing is it DOES make you slow down enough, often enough, to realize that really nothing is to be done, beyond the endeavor to actually be where you are, however that is.

In the Harrowing Trifecta of the past three months, almost no ghastly stone has gone unturned in our lives.  On the one hand it gives one perspective about the Larger Picture, as in I actually feel sorry for the LPV, while of course being pretty much transfixed in horror concomitant with fearing any current replacement.  On the other, when the third bit of truly bad news hit the decks here, I thought, wow.  Is there a Ground to this? Is THIS where my head blows up for good? And of course, yes.  And, also, no.  It led me to understand at long last the Upanishads’ lesson about what is (it IS and always shall be) and what isn’t (it is NOT and never will be), and just how when you confuse those things for each other things do not come to a happy end.  Which is where I found myself, at long last seeing the reality of a big piece of my life- which was not at all what I had told myself all along.  So.  Ouch but no fatality.  Pick yourself up, breathe, go on.  Still hurts, yes, but it is a pain rather than a superating wound, we might say- so I know it will pass.  This really is important because even though I don’t think we really know what time is? it is something to pay attention to.

This was forcibly brought in to me the other day at one of my Spots of Challenge, the Laundromat.  Ever since the incident of the handless man, I have been somewhat apprehensive about the place.  However it is the only game in a town by us, so it is what it is. (yes!)  Prepare, breathe, go inside and remain calm.

This particular day the place was a total madhouse.  Many of the washers are out of order so the place was a literal tower of bubble babble, with people rushing hither and yon in search of empty machines.  I got there in the nick of time and secured three decent washers, so I was THRILLED and my pulse slowed down.  All of a sudden, someone who could only be described as a “hipster” walked in.  Pajama pants, hoodie, van dyke beard, clunky glasses, idiot phone.  He scanned the situation, and seeing no available machines, began a hissy fit right next to me.  I said, just wait 12 minutes and my machine will be open.  Hissying continued and he stomped out.  He returned 40 minutes later, just in time for all the machines to have finished and been re-occupied during his absence.  (Clear and total Lack of Laundromat Savvy AND No Sense of Time, either.  So.)  Something like the Son of Hissy Fit ensued, and he Stormed Out again, nearly ripping the front door off its hinges.  Clearly nothing good was going to happen to or for him, or probably anyone near him, anytime in the near future and the world was responsible for this travesty, in his opinion.  It just really made me think about how often that happens, everywhere, and how, while it is an incredible amount of work to pay attention? it is so much easier in the long run because you say to yourself, here I am in this Situation.  Let us look at this here situation and determine the best course of action,  which funnily enough is usually not storming out slamming doors or yelling after you’ve made some error in judgment or other.  Often not making a total ass of yourself is a matter of touch and go, which is amazing since it is generally such an unproductive act.  Why is it so hard to just shut up and pay attention for a minute?

It’s just amazing what we do to ourselves.  At least these recent events and crashes and news flashes have shown me that in fact, slowing down and being quiet pays off, if only at times in terms of not making it worse for yourself by thinking that what Is Not, Is.  I can actually do this now! Seems like something has finally been learned……

Blessings and thanks!!!!!

yet another palimpsest

Well, sheesh Gentle Reader.  The normal torrent of words flying around my brain has slowed dramatically of late and writing, which is usually fairly easy? has been like pulling teeth.

However, I decided to take the position that this is a Developmental Phase and inspect all the words that DID pop up along with their associated…associations.   All while fairly major things were transpiring, as usual.

I’m slowly investigating things now that make my stomach upset.  Realizing at long last that stomach upset is, guess what? a SIGNAL that something isn’t right, I’ve been thinking about how many times I’ve disregarded my inner voice, self, whatever you want to call it, in favor of the opinion of the Other.  And how in the process I internalized that Other Opinion.  Which has pretty much been a huge mistake every time.

It has been a mistake because in those moments I relinquished my authority over myself and set it outside.  This sort of thing always leads to the same place, which is nowhere you really want to go and often includes the permanent installation of that stomach ache.  You think, of course, at the time, that it’s a good thing and this other person knows more than you do and all the rest of the malarkey that goes alongside.  It turns out that generally not to be the case, and people who insist you take their opinion as Fact do not for the most part have your best interests at heart.  The sad thing is they may think they have THEIR best interests at heart, and that isn’t true either.

Net net, after all this sitting still and observing things, something big happened.  I accepted myself as IS, and yes, not a moment too soon.  Early in December during a massive flood of unpleasantness, someone came over to our house and proceeded to tell me in a very patronising way that the work I do, what I do…none of it works and it’s just silly.  This pretty much covered everything from gardening to my remedies. I looked at this person and thought, wow, you must really feel like crap to attack me like that for no reason.  Then I thought…whoa! this isn’t the first time at this particular rodeo, kid.  People have told you this over and over.  Intellectually I know it isn’t true and those uttering such sentiments speak from ignorance and limitation,  but….and there’s the but.  I saw that I doubt myself.  I decided to just try to nip that in the bud each time it poked out and wow, was THAT a full time occupation.  The way I spoke to myself for most of my life was in a manner continually anticipating some sort of ghastly failure.  Admittedly there is some historical basis for such a concept- but not all the time.  The countervailing force of “stay in the now” saved me but also caused a lot of cognitive dissonance, i.e. stomach aches.

Anyway, in taking the long view it became clear just how much magic and goodness filled, always, my days and how that, in fact, kept me afloat in a world that seemed not to wish me well.  Balancing the necessity of living in that world with the necessity of staying sane while so doing has finally paid off, however.  I recently had two powerful and really, incontrovertible, instances of where my work and remedies made a big and sustaining difference in people’s lives.  It was an amazing experience, like fireworks were going off all around me and I’d finally come up to the surface of a deep lake from the bottom, spluttering and shaking water from my eyes, to see….myself, waiting for me.  No division, no stomach ache.  Challenges for sure….but the knowing that they can be met.  So, it IS true.  Once you believe it, you  see it, and not in the sense of seeing what you expect to see, but in the sense of removing constricting information from your viewfinder and turning the darn lights on.  It can be done!

As a reward for your patient reading of this:

bloodoranges

Aren’t these AMAZING? Given the harshness of the climate here, the fact that this little tree produces this much magic fills me with joy.  Plus they’re totally yummy.  Blessings and thanks!!!!

abducted by aliens

That’s really the  most sensible description of the past..oh, nine weeks, Gentle Reader.  Somehow I seem now to have been re-deposited in the yurt, Partner and Dog are both hale and hearty and things seem fairly “regular”, possible stargate breach notwithstanding.

But what the heck happened in the interim?  It’s hard to remember……..anotherworld

Here is a picture of a very dear friend’s stellar canine companion.  It seems as though she is seeing into another world, someplace that used to be flat, familiar and solid, and now seems deep and mysterious even with that familiar sweet face peering back.   Embodying the whole recent experience,  this is an actual image, it seems to me, of the moment when one is about to step out off the cliff, in faith, feet seeking the bridge.  (Or, perhaps, gets abducted.  And who knew that those Aliens were actually in your head the whole time?????)

Let’s just say it didn’t feel nearly this pretty.  Those nine weeks ago something happened that looked as though it was going to end Life As We Have Been Living It.  It didn’t, of course, but as close to the edge as we always are it certainly LOOKED like just a few paces away from being curtains. Disturbing for sure,  it was as these things always are, an excellent learning opportunity.  In revealing how easily old patterns get activated whether they should be or not, and how these old patterns lead one to certain thought trains that go nowhere helpful, it turned out to be a life altering experience of surrender and trust that may actually turn out far better than one could hope.

Surrender and trust involves, of course, that Whatever It Is that’s so much bigger than we are, encompasses all possibilities, and often makes a person feel like Loki being tossed around by the Hulk.  The thing revealed was that in fact, it does make a difference what thoughts you carry around with you, what actions you perform, what Work you do- and all of those things matter a lot more than what anyone, or you even, says or judges or opines. The actual body of what we ARE has a real presence that influences things, and the clearer you can be about all that the better off you are. It turns out that what matters is all that work done on listening to the inner voice, the bigger Presence, even if daily life tends to imply otherwise.  Things DO follow a pattern of sorts, and a clear pattern that moves toward understanding rather than having, and on inclusion rather than restriction, is ultimately going to lead you in the proper direction.  It may be seemingly awful in the moment, or take waaaaaaay too long, but that’s where the trust part comes in.  Often it seems as though if things go the way we “want” them to, or think they should, we think everything’s fine.  And it isn’t, in fact.  That control is a total illusion, of course.  But letting go of all that and remaining as clear eyed as possible in moments of flux or inside-tornado-ness is at once easier and more challenging than pretending we are in control of it all.  Or anything.  And there’s always the I Ching if you need a stern talking to. (My personal favorite? “You already know what to do”. GRRRRRRR.)

So while I’m trying to not dwell overmuch on how much I fell apart during this Abduction by Quotidian Monster Experience, and think more about how the center did hold after all, it seems in the end to reinforce what I am coming to see is true- if you hold to the harmony, the compassion, the not-judging or giving up, you are far better able to see where you are and thus, where you are headed, which is of course to a place where things work out in the end.  Even if for at least a part of the experience you are a total basket case in a blindfold.  Love is the way, too, even if for at least a part of the experience you visualize yourself wildly slaying dragons instead of meeting them.  Blessings and thanks, and back to more important things like RECIPES, next time.  We had a small but excellent blood orange harvest, which is always wonderful.

 

 

where the wild things are

And, that would be HERE, Gentle Reader.

Lately it’s been so wild, in fact, that my sense of humor pretended it had been buried somewhere in the back yard.  GAH, it said.  This is no fun at all.  I shall hide under the bed of mint until things improve.  No amount of cajolery swayed it even one bit.  So I had to consider things without benefit of jokes or drollery of any sort.

Once I decided to stop thinking It Was Gone Forever, and moved on to not panicking about small things like where the hell are the car keys, and could all the metal pieces in everything just stop breaking, clarity returned, if not a steady stream of witticisms.  Turns out it was just another opportunity for growth!  It’s kind of like the time many years ago when I realized that my ability to know what people were thinking was something I used to protect myself, and thus had to drop until I was able to function on my own without that crutch.  The sense of humor, while a good thing overall, became another such tool.  Once a blackbelt co-dependent, I guess.

So here I am, unable to think things are funny for the past few weeks- largely because of course they really aren’t, and it was a weird experience to finally just get close to all those things without any armor (you know, fires, floods, murders, idiocy, that sort of thing?).  The ultimate revelation from this was of course that one doesn’t NEED armor after all.  The whole idea of separation from other things is an illusion and I guess we find that out however we can.  I realized that in fact with a moment’s attention you can really FEEL what someone else is feeling, and instead of shielding from that awareness or using it as some sort of protection,  say to yourself, Self? You know we’re all One.  Let’s open up and send some good vibes out just for ducks.  It’s harder to do this of course when one is righteously indignant (like having new neighbors across the road in the house where the ACTUAL MURDERER used to live, who pull up blaring their car stereos in exactly the same way he did at all kinds of absurd times like, say, 2 am…).  It’s also harder to do when you’re circling the anxiety drain over how is this going to get fixed or whatever.  But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.  The other part of it shows Confucius wasn’t wrong about everything, since he said comparisons are odious.  No more comparing on the rigged scale we’ve all become accustomed to, either.  Things are as they are.  And they reveal their information over time.  Which ultimately provides guidance and a crumb trail to follow.

While I’m waiting for the sense of humor to crawl out from the mint patch, then, the crumb trail has led to some interesting culinary moments.  I made butternut squash enchiladas at long last, even straining the sauce like you’re supposed to and making the tortillas big enough to roll, and they were great.  It also turns out that you can indeed use  yellow lemon squash in place of zucchini in zucchini bread, and it’s almost better.  It’s also led to some amazingly spot on prognostications for people.  When I breathlessly tell the Partner that, guess what? remember when I told so and so such and such? He just shakes his head, like, silly bear.  Only YOU don’t know you’re generally right.   The trick now is believing in our own happy ending in this amazing new paradigm, where things seem to be irreparably blowing apart and mending themselves into something stronger, all at once.  The Dog, as usual, stays focused on the important things and is his usual invaluable counselling self, even when his usual question is: what’s to eat?  His quiet padding up to me in the kitchen area always reminds me that slow and steady, stick to basics, look everyone right in the eye, laugh…is a good way to go about things.  He may even find my sense of humor for me.

Blessings and thanks!

understanding

I’ve been pondering the course of my life lately, Gentle Reader. And I have FINALLY gotten a bit of it. There was a fair amount of blood and composure loss along the way, but that’s life in the fast lane, apparently.

Anyway.  Not to belabor things, I grew up, as do many, with hardly anyone who understood me even a little.  I mean, of course, they THOUGHT they understood me.  This understanding  mostly consisted of an assumption that I would, given a range of possible behaviors, always pick the worst one.  It was pretty much a constant no confidence vote.  Bullying occurred.  Physical harm occurred.  If I was sick, the doctor always assumed it was “in my head”- which, as it turns out? Not the case. (Of course all of this DID create things “in my head”, but that was probably Creator going, hah, let’s make this interesting. We know she’s dyslexic, so let’s make this bassackwards to begin with!)  I took this, as do many, to mean that *I* was unworthy, had something wrong with me.  Understanding the psychological underpinnings of it all has been a life long quest.

This morning I understood something, at long last, and as a result of all of the above.  We know people are often hesitant to ask for any kind of help, lest they be judged.  And who judges someone who needs help? Someone who doesn’t understand, doesn’t WANT to understand, just doesn’t get the necessity of understanding.  Sometimes because of an attitude that those asking for help are less than, not good, and an endless string of words I’m sure you can conjure for yourselves. Or, alternatively, there are people who put their shingles out as “helping” – more often than not, they do not, and often project the things they actually don’t understand or need to know or evolve through on to you, expressing their personal situation as containing some kind of  found Absolute Truth, and yours fairly regularly as being entirely lacking in truth of any sort.  Of course as you go along through life it becomes more apparent that the old adage is true: those who know, don’t say (or at least they’re not SELLING it to you), and those who say, don’t know (because they often are kind of selling it to you).   We all often go along with this sort of thing. You think this person knows more than you do. (Or, in more political contexts, they have more “power” than you, which means they can exert that in potentially unpleasant ways.) Yet you know they’re not really paying attention to what’s happening in front of them- so there’s this kind of unpeaceful icky feeling that arises when you think…uh oh.  This might not be right.  What do I do NOW?

So, then, knowing.  What the heck is that? And how do you come to it?

The simple version is, shut up and pay attention.  Breathe.  Direct your attention to what things FEEL like.  You already have the equipment you need, even if it has been allowed to rust and fall apart a bit.  The mind is a wonderful tool, but it needs guidance.  The heart and soul reveal that guidance in the form of FEELING.  The brain then can do its job of sorting through those feelings, presenting the findings (probably to the gut, the third brain in TCM- and after all the stomach is quite a reliable indicator of how you FEEL) and moving on.  The tricky part is how much old habituation gets in the way.  If you were raised to be a blackbelt level co-dependent (thank you Ann Lamott!) this means that the brain actually has to step in and say, hey wait a minute.  That pull you feel toward that person or thing and the overwhelming urge to Do Something For/With Them/It? What is that exactly? Then you start thinking about what help really is, after all.  And who really needs it.  Often after the zillionth hair raising situation where it’s 24/7 drama, you realize it’s you who needs the help.  And you can’t be afraid to ask for it- but you do needs some tools to find the right source.

Which then gets you to what I think of as the crux.  Understanding.  Until you begin to move in the world with understanding, with the intention to understand what the other person is experiencing, you’ll never really know what to DO.  Real understanding doesn’t involve control, or power, or any kind of manipulation to a “desired” outcome, or any rule other than do no harm. More like simply turning the lights on,  it’s ultimately an expanded version of: if it’s on fire, don’t stick your hand into it without a damn good reason and don’t get an attitude about it, either. Understanding gives you a map, a picture, a way to move.  Following your feelings to understanding lets you not pick that THING that really isn’t good for you, whatever it may be and whatever anyone else says about it.  It can lead you to see so much more than you used to.

While none of this may be particularly rewarded by the culture at large? it makes life a lot more- a lot more everything.  More enjoyable, deeper, more beautiful.  The pain is still there because pain just exists.  But it is finite, and that may be the biggest thing understanding gives you.  The negative really IS finite, a piece of a bigger whole.  That bigger whole contains everything along with the negatives, and my view is, we’re here now.  We might as well look around and experience it, and say thank you, while we’re at it.

It’s funny how these “personal history” things feel so Big and Important (when in reality they’re more like gigantic, unsightly doorstops placed here and there, but almost never at an actual door they’re holding open).  I think that’s probably a function of where we were size-wise when we started looking at them.  It’s a long road, though, and really best and most enjoyably traveled without the baggage we THINK  we have to have.  Unencumbered is a good word, don’t you think?  Now that I think about this word, I remember that my teacher said that true healing is really unencumbered communication with Creator.  The feeling associated with that? is joy.  And we really can all have that.

Blessings and thanks!