Tuesday, August 28, 2012

All Aboard the Ridiculous Express

So we all have our process of dealing with things, especially truly emotional things.

When I’m upset and particularly emotional, most people respond by trying to calm me down, talk rational, present both sides. Don’t bother. Just let me go, let me get it out, let me cry, let me rant, let me get to the point where I’m so unreasonable and absurd that even I have to laugh. Let me get to that sacred place I call Ridiculous.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t take me long, especially if people leave me alone and let me take the express bus to Ridiculoustown. Without any well-meaning obstacles, it generally takes just minutes. Though, sometimes a situation is so big I have to take a few return trips, but again these don’t take long, so just sit back and watch the show, people. Seriously, I'm getting really good at this...blink and you might miss it.

Thankfully, I don’t have to take these trips very often. I can handle most things. I only get this way when I’m hurt by someone or am put in a situation I which I am REALLY uncomfortable—when I feel backed in a corner and don’t know what else to do. My answer to the fight or flight response, turns out to be a freak out! Having these trips is sometimes the only thing that allows me to breathe. I know this sounds incredibly immature and you’re envisioning a two-year old at the grocery store who was told they couldn’t have candy. This is not what it looks like, but I’ve realized that this is about my lower-self, inner child expressing herself and me outwardly trying to express her needs and fears. The first time I recall taking this journey was when I first graduated college and moved to Manhattan I found myself a little cash poor with a hefty rent payment and little left over. When I realized my former roommate cashed my check for the electric bill, kept the money and didn’t pay the bill, I found myself utterly devastated. Not only did I feel the betrayal of someone I lived with for two years who was willing throw out a friendship for $200, but I was totally stressed about having to come up with another $200 to pay the bill that I just didn’t have. When my roommates tried to calm me down and offered to get pizza for dinner, I cried out, “I’ll never buy pizza again.” To which even I realized how silly that was. Even I had to laugh at how ridiculous the statement was. That, my friends, was the first time I was aware I was at Ridiculous.

I also realize that as I do my spiritual work and developing a relationship with my lower self, the trips to Ridiculous have changed too. They have grown and they have matured. Not only have the trips become shorter, but they are more controlled and socially acceptable. I can now go to Ridiculous at work and not ruin my professional Corporate Witch image.

Previously, in places like work, I would just shut off my feeling and things would fester until I quit and just got a new job rather than dealing with issues that might have helped me change.

Recently, I was put into a conflict situation. I HATE conflict. One of the people in the situation LOVES conflict. You can see how this would make me uneasy and cause my lower-self to freak out. So I just refused to engage. Nope, not going. I have something better to do, here is my notes, I’m not showing up! Oh and I’m going to email you to say this because that’s even safer. Click Send. Maria feels so much better. Maria breathes. Maria recognizes that sending the email was the grown-up version of getting to ridiculous. Really, I’m gonna stomp my feet and declare, “I’m not going?” 

Apparently, yes. And that action provided me with the space to gain clarity. I saw that by not standing up and being part of the conversation I not was standing up for myself, my team, my peers, and what I thought was right. I saw that there would only be more conflict later. So, I sucked it up and put on the big girl panties and rearranged my schedule. I had the conversation. I wasn’t happy with the outcome. However, afterward, I had more clarity into the position and motivations of the others involved.  I made a clear, informed decision--a decision with which both me and my lower self can live.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Asynchronous Timeline of the Human Experience

In my spiritual studies, I have learned and believe we have several different bodies. Many systems that focus on three or four bodies: Body, Mind, Spirit or Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Divine Bodies, but others use seven or even nine.  As I work with each of these bodies, I realize their specific role in this incarnation and how each are different, and most importantly, and how they all can work together.

As I age, as my parents and grandparents age, I have come to the realization that these bodies don’t have the same durability and shelf life. It’s more apparent as we age, using my 97-year-old grandmother as an example to illustrate, for simplicity, a three-body system.

Every time my grandmother has to move, she winces in pain and as she looks at me she says, “No one should get this goddamn* old.” The physical body can get damaged, or it can just wear out. We have medical science and technology to prolong the life of a physical body and ease the pain, including replacing joints that would leave many immobile from an injury or from the wear-and-tear of life.

Every time she forgets something, she says, “I must have lost my goddamn* mind.” There are a numerous mental illnesses that affect the mind. There is also general wear and tear and environmental factors, such as ingestion of metals, that have been shown to affect memory. Studies (and my personal experience) have also shown that reading and doing puzzles, such as crosswords, can help improve and maintain mental clarity and sharpness. But in general, at a minimum, as we age memories fade and recall is a little slower. Maybe it’s because our mind just have more to remember.

However, when I visit her, every morning when I emerge from the guest bedroom in the back of the house, she asks me if I saw the sunset, “Aw, it was so beautiful. The colors!!!” She lives in the country and when a deer, rabbit or a wild turkey or other wildlife wander into her front year, she calls to me, “Maria, come quick, you need to see this.” And when I arrive, she’s smiling a huge smile as she watches in awe of nature (I think I might have inherited this from her). Sometimes she even tells me stories, and has names for them. I used to humor her, until she tells me how she recognizes the animals from their markings and mannerisms. Maybe this her creative mind, but the joy and pleasure she feels and that emanates from her is spirit.

This lust for life keeps us going when our physical body wears down or our mental faculty diminishes. Sure, some may argue that spirits get broken, and that there are spiritual injuries and illnesses, and that is true. When one leaves the physical and mental bodies, they remainit is the spirit that is eternal and moves along to try this again.

** My grandmother says goddamn at lot, she grew up in the Bronx, sixty years after leaving she still has the accent. We’re very thankful goddamn is as colorful as her language gets, though she has some choice phrases, but that’s another post.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dealing with Someone Who Has Lost Their Mind

For those of you who are unaware, I’ve been dealing with some family issues. Two of my family members have dementia. It’s very frustrating and stressful to everyone in my family.

Some days there is lucidity. Some days it’s the same question 30 times in the same hour. Most days it flip-flops from lucidity to confusion, to anger, to self-doubt, to talk of suicide and ending this madness, with the same questions being asked over and over again.

Did she not hear me? Do I need to raise my voice? Do I need to physically show her what I’m talking about instead of trying to explain? Do I need to write this down? Should I just do this myself? Does it even matter if she’s just going to forget? Why am I getting yelled at? How do I stop this?  Why do I even bother?

Patience is needed and necessary. There is never enough. There is a lot of walking away and thinking it over. Holding hands. Deep breaths. Tears. Then, wash, rinse, repeat. There is no answer, but because there is love you make it through the day. The sun rises again and you hope for a good day. So really dealing with someone who has lost their mind should be just like every other day. It starts with light and is filled patience and love.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Great Purge of 2012

One day about three weeks ago, I hit the wall. The crescendo of chaos had hit the climax. I was done! Sh*t had to go and guess what? BOOM!!!! Gone!!!

The next day was a Monday morning, I had planned to start a 10-day juice fast that morning so I got up and I juiced. While sipping on some lovely pineapple, mango, carrot juice, I resigned from two volunteer positions, put another on hold until I could figure out how to fit it into my life, and then set some priorities to finish work committed to two other organizations so I could bid them adieu as well. I tried to work but it wasn’t happening. At lunchtime, I decided I had better things to do, so I told my boss I’d see him tomorrow. I then went home juiced some more. While sipping on some lovely kale, cucumber, and apple juice, I went on-line, picked out the car I had wanted to buy for the last four years, drove to the dealership and traded in my 9-year-old car with more than 150K miles on it, a leaky sunroof, and a check engine light that kept wanting to stay on not matter how much the repairs cost me. I drove away in my shiny new car with bells and whistles, because I wanted to!!! On my way home, I stopped at the salon and cut off all my hair. I got home around 7 and basically, I juiced. And while sipping on some lovely tomato, cucumber, zucchini juice, I dragged a bunch of boxes and bags from around the house to the basement to be donated.

All this happened two-days after the full moon. I harnessed the power of the waning moon and took this opportunity to purge, to detox, and to cleanse. More items were added to the donation pile, people that drained me where given the heave-ho, more commitments were wrapped up. Life was getting lighter. I made it through my juice fast (a future post will be about how amazing that experience was!). I ended this period of purging with a mini-vacation to visit the place of my birth. I reconnected with family and old friends, and spent time with the spirits of the land and my ancestors. I also had to deal with some heavy family issues that are ongoing, but it was clear what I had to do and what my role was. I felt that I added some value and comfort to my family’s situation. For the first time in the 12 years I’ve been living in Maryland, I returned from the long drive relaxed and refreshed, though maybe that has to do partially with the new shiny car and its cozy bucket seats and the smooth ride.

I’ve been back for just over a week and I see now that I also have more clarity and a heightened awareness of what is good and what is bad in my life. Now that the layers of toxins have been removed from my all my bodies, I’m more sensitive. I react more quickly because it’s easier to see and sense.  It’s like a dusty coffee table. When you clean it off, it’s nice and shiny. Then you notice a speck of dust here and there until it’s just dusty, though it keeps gathering dust. When you finally clean it off, you realize how thick the layer had become. Well, whether it’s ingesting dairy or hearing someone else’s ill-intentioned words, things that are toxic to any one of my bodies now are immediately noticeable and I can deal with them before they stick around and weigh me down again. Right now, I’m clean and shiny, and I intend to stay that way!

There is more that needs to go, but I’m also rebuilding, which is helping me set priorities on what else needs to be purged, as well as what should remain and what I need to add to make my life full. I’ve known for a while that I give too much. Now it is clear that I can no longer do that and remain strong and vibrant. I still love to help people, but I need to make sure I replace what was given with energy that serves me.

I use the word shiny a lot in this post. I like shiny. Shiny is good. May we all dig deep and get rid of what doesn’t serve us. May be all find what makes us shine.