Friday, February 18, 2011

Dreaming of possibilities, not dwelling on darkness

I found a shiny new toy this week; nestled in among the darkness of a fading winter and personal disappointment. Something bright blue, long, thin and somewhat slimy.

I traipsed off to my 5:45 a.m. water class Tuesday [ok, I don't get there til 6 so I can see my oldest before she flits off to junior high way too early for anyone to attempt functioning, particularly teenagers] after a couple of restless nights, so my eyes were barley pried open and I hadn't yet tested my froggy morning voice. I slipped in, stretched, then joined the class fluttering up and down the pool.

Usually I shine here, zooming past everyone. I overheard two women saying, "well she's always fast because she swims so much" as they – much to my amazement – overtook me. "Were they on drugs, had they attached motors to themselves?" I wondered. Apparently my puzzlement and eventual moment of clarity were visible to all. My body loosened as a trapped cat of a laugh escaped upon noticing their fins swishing behind them. FINS. They were whisping up and down the lanes with plastic appendages that propelled them as if on air. They offered me the third pair and, being game for any new water toy, I complied and was soon creating waves behind me.

I took off physically, mentally and emotionally casting off everything else, including the disillusionment of the previous week. This unexpected gift was, definitely, a deal breaker. More a mood breaker. The experience lightened everything and was the levity I had been secretly, and unknowingly, craving.

Who'd a thunk?

I kept the form-fitting fish feet on until the bitter end, not wanting to let go of my Cinderella-shoes. I worked hard, experiencing it in places I had forgotten existed. Any pain was replaced with waves of energy and exhilaration. It reminded me of when the water was new to me five years ago. When I didn't take it for granted, trudging off for my usual chore of laps [which never leaves me feeling like it was a chore]. Kinda like being a kid and, well, exploring all the possibilities of a new toy.

I wonder how many other toys have been strewn across my path that I failed to notice. Not this one, this time. Now I dream of all the new possibilities with fins instead of dwelling on the darkness of the past.

• When was the last time I discovered a new toy?
• How'd it make me feel?
• Can I really recall what that was like as a child?
• How can opening up the possibilities shift us?
• How can I nurture that joyful, childlike openness in myself?

dragging myself from the darkness,
eyes merely slits
attitude uncertain
sleep still too close

slipping into the familiar silky warmth
body wakes with movement
fogginess lifts
trading one bed for another

surging into the flow
muscles remember themselves
pulse quickens
and something seems askew

head shakes, eyes squint
and a question mark hovers,
soon replaced by childish longing
for the new toy

that makes ALL the difference

Monday, February 14, 2011

Protective cover of self love

I'm thinking it's time to remove the chink(s) from the armor. You know, the one that started as a nick when I was very young, then grew until it went right through me. The pieces missing from the protective cover of self love.

That visual image occurred to me as I was assessing how much damage I sustained after an agent's recent rejection of my book, saying I needed a "unique and special" message. She may as well have said "you're worthless," me ego tells me if I let it. It tells me a lot of things I know aren't true, yet it's so powerful and persistent, I sometimes fall into it's trap.

I had thought egos built us up better than we are, causing us to excel at the expense of being compassionate and caring. But mine (Just where is the ego factory anyway ... where we are endowed with these parts of ourselves? I'd like to trade mine in or return it as defective.) feeds on self doubt and has particularly fortified itself against me with fibromyalgia and my staying home with children, then attempting to build a career again.

It almost fooled me this time. The voice of ego, which took on the agent's, had a familiar echo ... a little too familiar and close to home. It sounded very much like the Sunday School teacher who told me my heart was black with sin at age three. The black-heart thing was the first time I ever even questioned who or what I was. The first time I felt less than. I also recall not believing it, even if I couldn't verbalize that thought then. Yet each time I received a similar message, I let it compound with the original.

Why do we do that? Is it because we are trusting? Naive? Don't want to buck authority?

For me, it has probably been all of those with the net result forming self doubt. I can't recall the last time I felt really sure about something. Well, yes, I can. And it's been about my book. The one I feel God has taken me by the hand and led, pulled and cajoled me through the last 12 years, even when I didn't recognize what was forming. The almost-unconscioualy moving ahead is part of the package. Had I realized, I would not have cooperated. One step at a time, however, I can manage ... even though I am continually whining for clarity. If I truly had it, it would scare me into immobility. Often I am immobilized anyway; or so it seems.

I am working to restore that chink, wondering if, perhaps, it's a phantom injury: one not really there, but "faked" by ego to hold me back. The best way to proceed, I believe, is by beginning to listen more deeply within myself and to those who love me and seeing ego for what it is and when it's whispering to me.

I am rebuilding that protective cover and will be more selective in what I choose to let in.

• What tends to make me doubt myself?
• What's the pattern of that been in my life?
• When/how have I recognized it as something destructive?
• What spiritual practice might overshadow those doubts?
• When I can truly be with Spirit, what happens to the doubt then?

it starts so very small
that it's easy to dismiss

until we're silently under barrage
and miss the pileup

falling into the habit
of assuming we screwed up

and that becomes a heavy weight to bear

one only undone with recognition

like shining the light into a deep, dark hole

to uncover something shiny and worthwhile buried

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Stepping on my soul

Why do I often assume I have made the mistake?

Yesterday, I was devastated to learn that a New York literary agent who had been back and forth with me for a few days, forcing me to exhaust myself [yes, of my own volition] by revising my book proposal, felt my work was too similar to other things out there and one, in particular.

I was shocked, disappointed and blamed myself for having missed that title in my competitive research, which was pretty exhaustive. I AM a die-hard reporter, after all.

I thanked her for her time -- while gritting my teeth and wiping teary eyes -- and said I would look at the similar book and possibly make revisions.

Today, I took that look and also noticed the 2001 publication date. No wonder I missed the book; I was searching "recent" titles. It was eery, however, how similarly our chapters were titled. And our book titles both begin with Finding the ... I think I'll change mine, no problem. I had already traded it in after an editor's suggestion late last fall. Finding was her word; answering had been mine.

I was gracious, no burning bridges here, but also wanted to know what I could do differently ... as if I had made a mistake. She bluntly said to write something "special and unique."

OUCH. How can the deepest story of my soul be stepped on like that? That really is the conundrum of putting this work out before people that don't know me or care to. Especially those outside a spiritual environment. I had forgotten how ruthless the real world can be. What a wonderful lesson, however, in the generosity from my virtual and Facebook friends! The encouragement and support have overshadowed the devastation.

Today is better than yesterday. At least I don't want to burn my book now. Tomorrow will be brighter yet.

It does remind me of the fall session I had with an editor. At the time she said my writing was strong, the art great, but I needed to focus more. I took that hard as well, put the book away a few weeks, then dusted it off as I was ready to hear what she had said and made revisions that only strengthened the work. I am hopeful the same will happen this time.

I understand it all as a process. One of growth, not necessarily MY mistakes.

• Why do I/we so easily assume the blame personally?
• Or even assume blame?
• How can I work in the secular world with a spiritual mentality that does not crush me?
• Why should that outside accolade/affirmation matter?
• What if I lived my life for myself or something bigger and not the cultural nod?

it was beautiful,
and was me

it emanated from Spirit

and I was pleased

til the other world
said otherwise

and made me
my beliefs,
my soul

for a second,
when I realized how ridiculous that is