Saying Goodbye

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I  have decided to put my dog Janet put to sleep.Her health is clearly declining.How do you know that you have done all you can do? How can you tell “it’s time”? This would seem to be a painful dilemma.I’ve been through this before and I wonder if it can be different. Is there another way to approach this?

At this moment she is resting though she does not seem entirely peaceful. Her breathing seems labored.I don’t want her to suffer.Part of me wants to drive down to the vet this instant and do the deed. Not unlike ripping a bandage off a wound, quick and simple.The other part of me will see her lift her head,  looking suddenly alert and think  ” maybe she is improving”.Who am I kidding?

I am going to miss her.The truth is, I already miss her because a part of her is already gone.

I knew several months ago where this was all going.Given her age, I opted for medication over surgery.I tried changes in diet, extra vitamin C, and fish oil.I have tried to make her comfortable.We took rides in the car  while I was running errands.I took long naps cuddling with her.I started to cook meals for her.I wanted, mostly, for her to know that I love her.

What am I afraid of facing here? I think that I am reluctant to acknowledge change.Life is moving on and so is Janet  but that’s not really it. It’s me. I am different. I have changed.After experiencing the death of so many loved ones you would think that I would know the drill by now.This time is different, though.I don’t want to share too much of this.I don’t want to have to explain or justify myself.This is my pain.However,  I believe that Janet will always be with me.How can she not be when the love I have for her is so alive? Grief is a very individual process.For me, the hardest part of it is not losing someone but the perspective it gives you.You can never see your life quite the same way again.It can feel lonely but at the same time it can feel like a treasure inside you.

A couple months ago, I wrote about Janet’s illness in a post called  ” Future Now”. It is always ” now” and now has elements of the past,  present, and future all wrapped up into one.While I write this, she is besides me but my mind is already thinking about her passing.I also see her in my mind’s eye, voraciously chomping on her ball in the back yard, dropping it to the ground, stomping her paws impatiently while she waits for me to throw it again.I see the emaciated, timid creature that I brought home 11 years ago after I approached her “owner” about letting me have her.It is heartbreaking and poignant that she is almost at the same weight that she was when we found her.She is leaving our lives much the same way she came into it.

Yes, okay, it’s time.

It was a little over a year ago when we adopted a second dog, Beulah.I had wanted to just keep everything “as is” but life is always changing.I didn’t think the Janet was sick but she could have been and I didn’t realize it.I just knew it was time to adopt a second dog so we took the plunge.The older I get, the more I can appreciate living in the moment.Each moment is unique,  informed by the past,  inspired by the future. ( I am going to tweet that! )Once you know, you have got to go with it.

For almost a week I have been struggling with a sore ankle. I don’t know how I did it but I believe it is a resurfacing of an old injury from years ago.It has forced me to spend as much time as I can off my feet.The irony is that it has forced me to slow down.I mean literally forced me.This made it easier to postpone various tasks in favor of staying in and consequently, spending time with Janet.Being home, it’s impossible to deny her condition.Being somewhat immobile, I can’t distract myself as easily by keeping busy.

I sat down next to Janet and told her, “If you want to go, it’s okay.If you want to stay let me know.” I prayed to God, “Please let me know if this is a mistake.” It’s probably not, but…

Maybe a new part of my life is being birthed in the midst of the sorrow.One can only hope.

 

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Alterations

photoI have been switching from my winter to summer wardrobe this week.That means taking summer stuff out of the attic where it is stored and packing away the winter stuff for next season.It seems a little late to be doing it but the weather has been so unpredictable these days.When I do this, I take time to re-evaluate what I am actually using, what I need to donate, and what I may need.It can be a pleasant surprise to see what I have packed away and forgotten I had.This time around I came across a couple skirts that needed taking in so I decided to try my hand at a few simple alterations.Let it be known that I am no seamstress.I have no formal sewing training and very little experience.Nevertheless, these were not expensive items and if I wasn’t wearing them, what’s the difference?

About 10 years ago, a woman I worked for gave me a sewing machine.She was a whiz at making her own clothes, curtains, you name it.She told me that she didn’t have any training either but just started doing things and taught herself.To see her designs, you could never tell.She encouraged me to try my hand at it.For me it was more of a creative opportunity.Looking back I can see the machine was a very generous gift.

I have heard it said that you learn by doing.When I first got the machine, I used it to customize some T shirts and hem some pants.Yes, it was a little ragged but that was kind of the idea.Somewhere along the line I packed the machine away and didn’t pull it out for years.At my husband’s urging, I set up the machine at our dining room table( if you could call it that, we barely ever dine there) and left it set up.He thought that this way I would be more likely to use it.He was right.

The idea of altering something to fit you specifically is almost a lost art these days.For the most part, unless it’s an expensive suit or dress,  we just pull a piece of clothing off a rack in a store, try it on,  and expect it to look amazing.If it doesn’t, we may think there is something wrong with us or the clothing but we generally don’t invest time to alter it or have it altered.It is just supposed to fit.

I have a quote posted on my wall by George Bernard Shaw that says, “Life is not about finding  yourself, it is about creating yourself” I have often tried to find a tried and true pathway to my goals but it is, many times, something you have to take time to carve out.You may have to grow into it.You may grow out of it.You make take another’s experience to heart and learn from it but it will never quite match your own.Why is it then that I wish someone would just hand me some kind of formula for my life when I know deep down, I would end up creating my own in the end?

I have had an idea for a book on health, fitness, and wellness for quite a long time but it is finally something I am taking steps toward doing.Baby Steps.I have always been fascinated by different styles of diet and exercise.I can’t say that I subscribe to any one method fully although I have reaped the benefits of my interest and participation in such things.That was the primary motivation for practicing yoga as well as getting certified to teach.It was also what inspired me to train for and complete my first marathon.Writing a book, for me, requires compiling all of the lessons I have learned over the years as a result of personal study, experimentation, trial and error.Perhaps this idea stems from a desire for a book that I wish I had during my journey of self discovery.I think it also reflects a desire to serve and help others.This is a dimension of my life that I never really understood before.It is beginning to take shape.

Writing can require alterations.You start with ideas, raw material, and then trim and shape them into something more focused and cohesive, something that fits.

Sometimes you have to take things in, sometimes you have to let things out,and sometimes you have to cut something off and let it fall away.

Speaking of what fits, I am stopping now so I can fit in a workout at the gym before teaching yoga tonight.I am cutting it short.More on this subject in future posts.

Goodbye for now….

 

 

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Hey Random Stranger

Here I am thinking of what I would say to me…..if I wasn’t me.

GetAttachment

A four leaf clover

 

I finally completed my first marathon.( that is one positive thing to report).It was supposed to be in December but the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis was cancelled on account of  bad weather.I originally thought I would do New Orleans but, lo and behold, it was Nashville this past weekend.My initial goal was to finish, which I did.Was I happy with my time? Well,it wasn’t anything to write home about, a modest   4:57:02. Next time, I hope to improve.I am impressed with myself that I followed my instincts, hydrated and fueled properly, and didn’t injure myself. It was a stunning spring day with full sun.The down side to this was by about mile 14 , it was beginning to feel a little warm out there.I felt like I was starting to bake.There was a girl not far from MetroCenter that I passed and though she seemed visibly younger and in decent shape,  she was limping painfully.I thought,” Uh, oh.Note to self…” Aside from sore quads, I finished the race unscathed.

One thing you realize when running a marathon is that you are not alone.There are some who are faster, some who are slower, but you are certainly NOT ALONE.I was waiting about 40 minutes in the cue just to get started.Lots of people run marathons.There were more runners doing the half marathon from what I could see but there were all kinds of people there.I even passed a sweaty white Elvis on the way ( pretty impressive).I had read somewhere that I should have my name written on my person somewhere but I didn’t.That’s okay, the spectators had it figured out.They held up signs that said ” GO RANDOM STRANGER”.That was me.

Now that I am back in town, I am in the midst of a personal crisis.I have to meet with my boss tomorrow about a complaint and I am not taking it well.It is the second one in a few weeks.What am I doing wrong? It isn’t like I am not trying.Do I like my job? Sometimes. I try to be conscientious and work hard. Most times I am just glad it pays my bills( barely).I think I am being found out.This is a bigger dilemma than just my job.It is my life.At the present moment, the things I am most passionate about are not what’s keeping a roof over my head and food on the table.I have been trying to work it out but I feel like I am on borrowed time.

I am angry, deep down.Am I angry at my boss? Not really.I can see her side.Hey, if momma is not happy,  aint nobody happy.I get it. I guess I am angry at God.

God what am I doing wrong?

Why am I stuck in this place? Where is the open door? What is the solution?   

I realized at that moment that I didn’t have any faith for my situation. None at all.I seem to be hitting the wall.I have been in this place time and time again and I have yet to overcome it.It is like seeing the marker for mile 20 and wondering how I am ever going to make it to the finish line.

So okay, what would it be like if I was talking to another person? What if the random stranger really was me?

For one thing,I am not alone.Everyone goes through a period of failure, confusion, discontent and doubt.Most times, it is the segway to something better.It can’t last forever.Keep moving forward.

At this moment I am on my porch and my cat is sittng besides me.We are trying to make her an outdoor cat.Why? Because she has destroyed countless items and furniture by marking them.Yes, I have tried all the usual remedies for removing the scent but she finds new things to destroy.Today was the last straw.She doesn’t want to be an outdoor cat, though.The neighbor’s cat bullies her.What’s odd is that they look like twins.Same size, same color, everything.

I guess we are in a similar place.It reminds me of what a coworker told me years ago. “Anne, ” he said, “I feel like you haven’t been able to piss and mark your territory, you know what I mean?” I think I do now. We can’t help but to want to mark our territory but it may not be ours to mark and yet still don’t want to go outside.

My comfort zone,  if there was such a thing,  is shrinking.

One thing I learned from my marathon training was that you can’t push through ” the wall”. You can only dismantle it, brick by brick, moment by moment, and step by step.

So okay random stranger, what now?

RUN YOUR OWN RACE

Take a step.Do something you love.Set a goal.Think of what you want( not what you don’t want).Do something everyday towards your goal.Anything is better than nothing.

For me, writing is energizing and empowering.Sometimes I think ” who is reading this? how can it matter?”Then again, it’s something.Something Real.I am bearing witness to my truth.That is important AND significant.So many times I read something or watch a movie and think, ” this isn’t real.who does this speak to? not me.” Maybe what I write can speak to someone else.

I haven’t written in a while but your going to be hearing a lot from me.For the moment you, dear readers, are going to be my stand in for a life coach.

Being done with a race can be a bit of a let down.I fondly remember the training days as well as the race day and it is something I feel a slight ache for.I WILL do it again, though not next week or anything.

 I am reminded of what another spectator sign said,” If a marathon was easy it would be called YOUR MOM”

Nice!

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New To Me

photoAs it turned out, in spite of how indifferent I was to the outcome and/or spectacle or the 2014 Super Bowl,yours truly was one of four winners of a Super Bowl pool that was going on at work.This meant I had extra, unexpected cash.I made the decision that this winning must be dedicated to something other than bills or necessities.It would be for a dress.Ah, yes.

I had something picked out already.I saw it last week at a trendy boutique and it was on sale.SOLD.After making that purchase, I had some cash left over.I didn’t hesitate.I went to troll the aisles of the local thrift stores.

This kind of shopping serves a duel purpose for me.It’s economical as well as rewarding.Strangely enough, I feel like it gives these items a new life, a second chance.I know there are some that would frown on this sort of thing.Someone elses discarded stuff?I can hear it now, ” Do you have some kind of a poverty mentality? Don’t you believe in abundant life, a benevolent universe? Do you feel unworthy?”  NO.I feel joy whenever I see a piece of clothing, an appliance, a book, etc that is of exceptional quality waiting to be discovered.Perhaps I am reading too much into this( I usually do) but it makes me think of people around us, or even ourselves for that matter,  who are in the same position.We may feel passed over in our lives.”How did I get here?” we wonder.

Well, how does something end up on a thrift store rack?Someone may have gone through their belongings and decided that they had some stuff that was no longer useful to them.I emphasize that because just because you have a belonging that you are not using, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful to another person.Maybe you bought a new couch.Perhaps you have things that were “outgrown” as is the case with children’s clothing. Maybe you lost weight and wear a smaller size.It could be a book you have already read and don’t see yourself reading again.You may feel the need to give away items after the end of a relationship.On a more somber note, this can happen as a result of death.

In this way, it is like the cycle of life.Not everything has to be “brand new” for it to be appreciated and/or meaningful.

When I shop for previously owned items, I get a charge that is not quite present when shopping  for new items.I see possibilites.I am willing to take chances.I may even buy something that is not right for me but I have a hunch it’s perfect for someone else.When it comes to music, I have never stopped listening to vinyl LP’s.Sometimes I will even purchase a cassette that I can only play in the tape deck in my car.Lately I have been listening to U2’s “Wide Awake in America” as I ride around town.It’s remarkable how something so inexpensive and random like that can brighten your day, or someone elses.The only problem with this is that if you are not careful, you may end up with a bunch of “stuff”.That is why I have a few guidelines.

First, I consider the what I am looking for.For instance, It may be something specific like a wool sweater, a food processor, a pair of black slacks.In this way, I can stay focused and don’t get distracted by all the other things I may see.Second, I don’t ever buy something just because it is cheap.If I don’t need it, I am not buying it PERIOD.Third, once I buy something, I try to simultaniously get rid of something I am not using very much.This one usually relates to clothing.One last thing to bear in mind, there is no use in having something if you don’t use it or have somewhere to put it.

I realize that whatever we may be looking for in life is actually looking for us.The question is, are we ready for it?Have we made time and space for it? For several months, I have been in the process of clearing out and reorganizing.This is yet another continuation of my previous posts,  “Making Time” and ” Creating Space”.I am reminded about something Cheryl Richardson said about how when you take care of your finances responsibly,you are sending a message to your subconscious that you are able to handle more.I believe this can be applied to relationships, possessions, and/or opportunities.

There are days when I walk through a thrift store in sheer amazement over all the great stuff I find.Other days, I see nothing special. Then again, someone else can find exactly what they are searching for.It’s a timing thing.It’s also a very individual thing.

That is why this kind of shopping speaks to me on a personal level.

It’s symbolic.The very item we are looking for may be waiting for us,  gathering dust on a shelf next to a bunch of “junk”, waiting to be discovered.It could be something that another person found insignificant and it and yet it means so much to us.Maybe there are times when we could feel unwanted and passed over.Maybe we feel like our talents and abilities are nothing special.Then again, who is to say that we are not exactly what another is seeking?There is a saying, I don’t know who said it, “There is a supply for every need.” Whoever did has probably spent time trolling the aisles in a thrift store.

Just because we are not shiny and brand new doesn’t mean we aren’t sought after. Just because we have blemishes,made mistakes,and felt used doesn’t mean we aren’t valuable.

Now if you readers will excuse me, It’s time to reorganize my closet.

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Future Now

photo (6)As I write this, my beautiful dog Janet is resting close besides me.She has been my loving companion for most of her 14 years.I found out a couple weeks ago that she has a tumor in her bladder.This does not come as a complete surprise.She has shown signs of health problems for the last couple months.I have opted to use anti-inflamatory medication at this time but given her age, I will not be seeking out surgery for her.This is the first animal of mine that I was given the luxury of time.Every other one of my dog and cat “children” were in crisis situations where I had to make a painful decision right then and there.

Many of us have said, “If only I knew sooner” or “If only I had more time.” Now I have a little of both.The dilemma is, how do I make the most of it?

This brings up another conundrum for me.We are encouraged to live life in the present.The past is gone, the future may never come, so live in the present.(I don’t know who said it but it makes good sense.)Here’s something to consider.What if, like me, you are intuitive.You are sensitive to what the future may hold.You may not be able to find lost children or pick the winning lottery numbers but you definitely get strong “gut feelings” or intuitive” hits”.Like me, you have learned they are reliable.Instead of blowing them off, you listen.How do you honor what your intuition is telling you about the future while staying grounded in the present?

When I wrote my first blog post, “Animal Shelter Reality Check”, I was struggling with whether or not to adopt a second dog.Janet was a huge part of this consideration.I wasn’t really sure if I was ready for a second dog and I was enjoying the comfortable place I was in.I knew it couldn’t be forever though.Now I can see my instincts were spot on.

Dealing with a dog is one thing but what about a human being?I have had this sense with family members, too.Granted they were older and it wasn’t “out of the blue” but I still had to honor these feelings.I am not saying that there is no hope and that every health challenge ends in death.Actually, not every intuitive”hit” is for something that serious.Sometimes it can be for something lighter or more pleasant.

Have you ever met someone and knew that you were going to be friends?Have you ever met two people and thought, ” they should be friends” or ” they would make a good couple”? Sometimes it would seem just like common sense, or better yet, paying attention.My husband and I have a friend, Billy, that works at Gruhn’s Guitars in Nashville.Before that he was in a job situation that he struggled with.I knew eventually he would end up at Gruhn’s.He belonged at Gruhn’s.It didn’t matter to me that there weren’t any job openings at the time, I knew that is where he was headed.Sure enough, he eventually found a position and has been there for quite a few years now.

In Florence Scovel Shinn’s book, “The Game of Life and How To Play it”, she says that intuition does not explain how, it simply points the way.

Isn’t that the truth. We get a piece of information or, inspiration if you will, and we may toss it out because it just doesn’t fit into our present circumstances.Like the lost earing I wrote about a couple posts ago, we get only a piece of the puzzle and it seems useless.We may be tempted to give up or discard it.DON’ T

There are two things to consider here.One is taking action and the other is not taking action.They can be equally as distressing. If there is a step you should take, do it.It may be very simple and seemily insignificant.Do it anyway.You will feel better.If there is no action to take, maybe it is just something to be aware of for the future.That can be even more daunting and we may be tempted to force an outcome.DON’T.Either way, you may not want to tell other people.You may want to just file that information in your mind.

One thing that is very important, which may go without saying, is to always acknowledge your feelings.You may not be able to act on these feelings in the present moment but they are still important.I imagine we all know someone who is highly sensitive and intuitive but a little unstable( at least I do).They may immediately say, “this person is no good” or “I have this great idea” but they don’t know how to handle that information.If you get the sense that someone’s intentions are questionable, you can keep that in mind, take action to protect yourself, and they usually will show there colors in the end.There is no reason to fly off the handle making seemingly unreasonable accusations.If you have a great idea, it may take others time to come around to your way of thinking.Don’t expect everyone to jump on board all at once.They may not see what you see.

Intuition is a gift and a skill.We all have it.Some don’t acknowledge it and some don’t know how to handle it but we all have it.The trick is to pay attention.

For the moment, I am giving Janet medication, watching her diet, and trying some alternative remedies.Every day is a blessing.Every moment is precious.I take extra time to let her know how much I love her and can’t resist throwing my arms around her neck and kissing her head.I had a dream last night that she was shot in the face but, remarkably, still lived even though she was expected to die.My heart just ached for her then as it does now.Could that be a sign of things to come? I am going to file that one away.

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Inside Out

photoOver the recent months, I have taken a slight step back in my life.There are quite a few things, “under construction” and have been for a long time.The difference now is that I am more aware of the importance of starting construction from inside out.

It is not like I have never looked within or worked on my inner self before.I really have.In fact, I honestly would like to work on the “outside” more.The things people can see.Visible things.I am beginning to see that those start from within too.

During the past year, I have had a better grasp on what it means to love yourself.It is something I had heard before but never deeply understood on an emotional level.People would tell me I was too hard on myself.I heard what they were saying but I really didn’t get it.I didn’t cut myself any slack.For example, when I started teaching yoga, it was a completely different experience for me.I had never taught before even though I suspected I had an instinct for it.There was a great deal to learn.When you start something new, especially as an adult, it’s difficult to start from the bottom.Your going to make mistakes.Your going to recieve criticism.One thing I realized is that not everyone knows how to give criticism.Sometimes people come off snotty or condesending without knowing it.Well, okay sometimes people are snotty and condesending and don’t really care.That is just the truth.Let’s be honest.It can be a challenge to take the criticism, see it for what it is, and not take it personally.When you love yourself, it becomes easier.You can listen more and not be so defensive.Then you begin to see people around you who don’t have any self love and it makes more sense.They are”running on empty” and looking for something external to build them up.Unfortunately, this can cause those people to tear others down in an attempt to feel better about themselves.It never works.

I have worked in restaurants most of my life.It’s hard, often thankless, work but it has supported my art and let me tell you, I have learned a lot about people as a result.I have watched people walk in who have already decided that they are going to have a miserable experience and there is very little, if anything, you can do about it.Come to think of it, teaching can be like that too.Actually, anything can be like that.I have played shows where the audience, or someone in the audience, was not going to have a good time.The thing about music is that it touches you on a deep level.I have seen people literally get up and leave as soon as things start rolling.Once others start enjoying themselves, getting on their feet, and dancing, they hit the door.Then the show really starts.If you are miserable with yourself and your life, it taints all your experiences.Again, from the inside out.

I once heard a psychologist friend of mine talking about how the work that you do on yourself in counseling is something no one can take away from you.I am beginning to see that more and more.When I was younger and struggling with suicidal depression, I  really didn’t see the point in counseling.I guess I wasn’t open to it.I took more of a spiritual route which did help, no doubt.Nevertheless, you can be familiar with certain spiritual truths and not really know them.I could accept that God loved me, at least on a mental level, but I had no idea what that really meant unless I was in some state of bliss or euphoria.Those moments can be fleeting.They come and go.It takes time to renew your mind, recondition yourself, and unlearn many of the messages we have received from our upbringing or society.

This is where I am now.I am in the process of weeding out those ideas about myself that seem stuck to my subconscious like a layer of silt.That brings me to an amusing story from my childhood.Many, many, years ago, my aunt and uncle gave my family a television set because, as they said, there was “something wrong with the picture.” In those days, my uncle was fond of smoking cigars.Wouldn’t you know it, my mother wiped down the picture screen and removed a layer of film left by the smoke.The picture was much clearer after that.

I haven’t thought of that story for a long time but it seems to illustrate how our vision can be clouded.It takes some effort on our part to remove the layers and limitations that can accumulate on our mind and heart.These can be a result of our environment and we don’t even realize what has “stuck” to us and it isn’t even us.Unlike the T.V. screen, it is more of an inside job.We polish our “mind’s eye” and can view our lives , and others in our lives, with more clarity.

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Lost Earrings and The Ghost of New Year’s Resolutions Past

photo (5)I love jewelry but I seldom wear or purchase expensive things because I have a tendency to lose them.This is especially the case with earrings.Perhaps I should work on that.Oh well, that isn’t the point right now.Here’s the point.When I lose an earring it can be annoying because I am stuck with one earring and I am not going to wear one without the other.That is just me.The sight of the matchless earring just makes me sad or upset.I hate to keep it around.On the other hand, I can’t immediately chuck the single earring because the lost one could turn up.In fact, this has happened a few times recently.

A couple weeks back, I lost an earring.It wasn’t valuable but I liked these earrings and got compliments on them.”Uggh,” I thought, “here we go again.” I dreaded the sight of the lonely earring but I kept it around because the other could turn up.That is what happened with another pair that I love and I am grateful I held out.After a couple days I was close to throwing the single earring away. “No,” I thought, “give it a little more time.” So I did.

The following week I lost a pendant.It was my favorite one, in fact.At this point, I am angry.I am angry at myself for being such a dumb ass. “Well maybe it’s in the car somewhere, I’ll check there,”I said to myself.I went into the car, dug around, looked on the floor, and under the seat.

Wait,what’s this?

Lo and behold, it was my long,  lost earring.Okay, so I didn’t find the pendant but I found the earring which was cause for celebration in itself.I am glad I kept the other one.

There’s a moral here.

It can be tough to hang on to one earring, waiting for the other to turn up.It can be like that in life.We experience a loss ,set back or disappointment and want to throw in the towel.We lose hope.

A couple posts back in “Commitments and Setbacks”, I talked about marathon training.I got behind and wanted to give up but decided to stick it out.I decided to just focus on finishing the race and commit to the training, regardless of the outcome.My running began to improve as a result.Lo and behold, the marathon was cancelled because of bad weather.Whoa! When does that ever happen? I am planning to run in New Orleans in February, as many Memphis runners are.We were given the option of transfering our registration.Now I have more time to train than expected. The thing is, if I didn’t already commit to the training with the intention of running in December, it wouldn’t really have helped.I would have been back to square one.It would have been like throwing away the other earring.

With 2013 coming to a close, I am reviewing the year and setting intentions for the New Year.I keep a journal so I thought I might  pull out an old one, just for a laugh, to see what last year’s resolutions looked like.HMMM…..

Okay, a couple things last year would look a little like what I would write this year, with a few revisions.For one thing, last January I gave up drinking alcohol for 30 days.That was less of a resolution and more of a challenge.Did I do it? I most certainly did.Was it sucessful then? Yes and no.It was a good test of discipline but it really didn’t seem to make much of a difference.After the 30 days in January, I decided to give up gluten in February and THAT was the ticket.Other than a few mishaps, I have been gluten free and it’s made a big difference.It was kind of an unexpected victory.I would still like to cut back on alcohol, though.

Another was practicing guitar every day.Okay so I didn’t keep with that BUT I started taking lessons,  practicing more regularly, and seeing improvement so there was that.This year I would like to continue.

Last year I said I wanted to have a green smoothie every day.I didn’t stick with that BUT I did get my juicer up and running again and started having juices as well as the occasional smoothie.This year, I have already decided on more raw food in my diet.I just made some sprouted lentil salad and picked up some spirulina as well.

I said I wanted to do yoga everyday whether in class or at home.I didn’t do that BUT I started running again and training for a marathon.It has cut into my yoga practice some so I hope to balance it out more this year.Nevertheless,I know running a marathon (and training for one) has been on a resolution list somewhere at sometime.

I guess you could say that I am seeing a pattern.Things didn’t go exactly as planned but I made improvements.It wasn’t a total loss.It wasn’t a failure.I can actually learn from what worked and what didn’t.Some people say that making New Year’s Resolutions is a waste of time and you shouldn’t do them.I disagree.I DO think you should keep them recorded somewhere so you can review what you did.In my case it was really an eye opener.More often than not, people give up on their resolutions when they don’t go as planned.I think it’s important to start the New Year looking at what went right instead of what went wrong.Even if it wasn’t a resolution, I am sure everyone can look over the past year and see that there were positive changes and growth.

This year I want to “tighten up” last years goals and maybe add a few more.I will continue with what I already have done and build on it.

Take it from me, don’t throw away the earring.Hold on just a little longer.It could still turn up.Learn from mistakes, make adjustments, and don’t give up just yet.If you failed in previous years, ask yourself why.Maybe you suceeded somewhere else, somewhere unexpected.

Keep the faith.

Happy New Year!!

 

 

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Being Fully Present

GetAttachmentI was listening to Hay House Radio today and Robert Holden was talking about how important it is to be fully present in our lives.Many times we think that there is something missing in our lives and that something is us.It reminded me of the famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world”

This is not the first time I heard this message because the podcast was on re-broadcast.The first time was right before taking a brisk 5 mile run on Thanksgiving Day.I usually take the dogs out first as a warm up.As I was walking the dogs,  and later stretching, I can remember hearing the same words.He was talking to a caller but he could have been talking to me personally.I went on to have a glorious run and forgot all about the message until today.

With the New Year approaching, I am always very conscious of working on positive changes.Truth be told, I really have made positive changes over the years.I know that real and tangible changes are possible.I also know that making a general change like “being fully present”, though seemingly vague, can be brought into all areas of one’s life.

 

I posted recently about making time and creating space.This could be the third installment, a trilogy if you will.First, make the time to do things, create space for those things to happen, and most importantly, be fully present throughout the process.Now I realize that there are some days that just showing up is about all you can manage.During times of stress, illness, or tragedy it’s all you can do to put one foot in front of the other.I get that.Let me explain.

When I started this blog, I was a complete novice and still am, in fact.I am constantly bombarded with thoughts ( and sometimes unwanted comments) that bring that to my attention.I have a deep rooted fear of “doing it wrong” so to speak ( whatever the HELL that means!) What I am beginning to understand is that doing something wrong, flawed, or incorrectly can be preferable to doing nothing at all.Inactivity teaches you nothing.You can’t live and learn if you don’t live.Living can bring pain but it can also bring joy and many times you can’t have one without the other.

Frankly, the hardest thing for me to bear lately is disappointment.Why? There has just been so much of it in my life that it is a stinging, painful wound.I have been holding back.

     There,I said it. 

I have been afraid to invest myself fully for fear of disappointment.The wounded person inside seems to whine, “but how do you know this time will be different?” There really is no way of knowing for sure.

Several years ago I talked to a counselor about several issues one of which was drinking alcohol.I was concerned about my drinking but, truth be told, did not see myself as an alcoholic.She didn’t either, actually.She encouraged me to get away from the heavy idea of alcoholism and consider taking a short break from drinking in favor of being 100 percent present.HMMM….I shared this with a couple friends, and even some of those who struggle with drinking themselves.It got their attention.”Wow, 100 percent present,” they mused.Since then I have had short periods of abstinance from alcohol but I have not necessarily been as successful with being 100 percent present.

What, then is being 100 percent present? Giving your 100 percent effort, for sure.If you aren’t giving 100 percent, then why not?Do you have reservations? Are you afraid of something or are you practicing “self care?” Knowing how to say NO is as much a part of being present as saying YES if you are clear on why.Many times I feel limited in my time and energy.This becomes more apparent as I get older.Work smarter-not harder is a familiar theme for me.Then again, do I use that as an excuse? Maybe, at times, it can be a smokescreen for resentment.

I can’t do everything and I sure as HELL can’t do everything right all the time.So what? As my husband is fond of saying, “Perfection is the idol of failures.” Translation-failures make excuses, wait for ideal conditions and circumstances, and then bemoan their lousy luck instead of just going for it.By the way, perfect is relative.Perfect by whose standards? If Chuck Berry was a perfect jazz musician we might not have one of the most influential rock and roll guitarists of all time.

All this is well and good but when it comes to the real challenge, can I do it? I think so.A good place to begin is to look at what I have been avoiding and why.It means feeling my feelings.It could mean asking myself, “Am I here right now or have I checked out?”

So there you have it.At the risk of using a bad pun, why not give the gift of being fully present this holiday season? (HA! there I said it.. )In fact,  it is a gift you give yourself AND others in your life and in your world.

It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

Peace and Love.Merry Christmas XOXO

Anne

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Art and Life

 

GetAttachment

I am facinated and intrigued by art that is rooted and grounded in actual circumstances or experiences.I guess I am primarily refering to writing as it is expressed in songs, books, screeenplays, etc.In my opinion, this is why we relate to it.This is why it touches us.This is what makes us think, feel, laugh, cry, wonder, or imagine.We’ve been there or someplace close to there.Maybe we would like to go there because we feel it really exists.

In today’s world, we seem to want to deny real life of define it how we think it should be instead of how it really is. For example, when I listen to music or watch films or television from the 1960’s or 70’s, I can see how the lives and stories of actual people or events were celebrated, even in the mainstream.This was a big change from the previous years.Now it seems like a return to a more fabricated view of reality.I am not talking about SciFi or Fantasy here.Sometimes those scenarios can be more plausible than your average T.V. sitcom or romantic comedy.

About a month ago, my husband and I went out of town with a couple other musicians to play a friend’s wedding.While we were packing up to leave our hotel room the next day, we had C.M.T. on the television.I don’t have cable T.V. at home so I catch up a little with what’s going on when we stay at a hotel.I knew that the Country Music industry had lost touch with their roots a long time ago ( I used to live in Nashville) but it seems to have gotten more ridiculous as of late.Country Music used to be about people.The songs were rich with human experience.Watching these videos, I don’t know if I could tell you much about the meaning of these songs.Well okay, one was about picking up a chick at a bar, another about hanging out on a lake with friends, and another about getting with some girl in a cornfield ( I guess that is what makes it country.) There was one song I recognized that was predictable and cliche but still listenable.It was also about 8 years old.The visual aspect was glossy and appealing to the eyes.There were well dressed and half dressed men and women driving fine cars,  smiling, laughing, and trying desperately to look sexy.Watching this made me feel empty and sluggish not unlike eating some processed food.Just writing about it drains me because I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said.Maybe it’s best to leave it alone.

I suppose art can be whatever you want it to be.In my world, it should make you feel alive.Entertainment, which can be an art in itself, can do this too.

If art comes from life than wherever we are at this moment is overflowing with potential.I have to remind myself that everyday.Overhearing conversations while standing on line, observing people around us, and relishing everyday experiences can be the inspiration for songs, poems, films, you name it.In fact, if you search it out, you will find many fictional stories have a solid basis in real life.For example, I was watching a documentary about the BBC television comedy “Are You Being Served?” which I am a fan of.The show ran from 1972 to 1985 and was an unexpected success.One of the shows creators had worked a short time at a department store which, no doubt, helped him create the idea for the show and it’s characters.No one had ever done a show about a department store and it wasn’t easy to sell the idea to the network.I don’t think anyone would have said, “Let’s do a show about a department store” if they hadn’t actually worked in one.The thought probably wouldn’t have crossed their minds.

I think that real life experiences mirrored in art have an aroma to them not unlike a home cooked meal. It may prepared with simple ingredients that have distinct flavors and textures that are comforting, and nourishing.Many times I can view my life as boring and unremarkable.In reality ( no pun intended) nothing could be further from the truth.This respect for reality has to begin with me by having a willingness to embrace each day, moment to moment, and appreciate it for what it is.

There is a verse that comes to mind.Proverbs 13:23  “Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste “While we are being bombarded with celebrity gossip and tabloid journalism, there are so many meaningful, powerful stories in the lives of ordinary people that are overlooked and ignored.We just need to scratch a little below the surface.

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Creating Space

GetAttachmentThis is a companion to the post “Making Time.” I am refering to two things that are similar yet one is dynamic and the other magnetic.One is active and the other is passive ( at least in my mind.) I am proposing that when you make time for something, it is with the intention of doing something with that time.Creating space is a little different.When you create space,  it is to allow for something to happen.It can be a little more daunting when you are used to doing, doing, doing.

When you get rid of old things that are no longer useful to you or serving your highest good, you are creating space for new and better things.It can be clothes, a relationship, a job, or even a way of thinking.Many times we struggle with letting go of what is old and familiar because we are afraid there is nothing new and better to take it’s place.Actually,  it is more about waiting to see what presents itself rather than forcing an outcome.Maybe we do need to take action as in the case of my first post  “Animal Shelter Reality Check.” Losing my dog Jasper left a hole in my heart and my household.I had a difficult time imagining what a new dog would be like.Now I can’t imagine my life without Beulah.Did she replace Jasper? Of course not.He was irreplacable.I had to create space for something new, or someone new, in my life.I had to be willing first.

When I was in the ninth grade, my english teacher, Mr.Reilly told us about an article in Reader’s Digest that he recommended we check out.It was about spending a hour a day, first thing in the morning, with God.Now Mr.Reilly wasn’t an overtly religious man ( think of a more conservative version of Dr.Wayne Dyer.) I don’t know if a public school teacher could get away with mentioning something like that today.I checked out the article all the same.It talked about sitting in the silence just being there.There wasn’t a nod to any specific religion or spiritual practice.There wasn’t a formula or plan involved.It wasn’t an active meditation either.On the surface it could seem useless or a waste of time.I never forgot that article.I looked it up on Google recently and found it.It read very much the same as I remembered it.

Creating space in our lives for new things can feel useless at first.Shouldn’t we be doing something? Creating space can feel empty and even a little lonely.It is essential though.Unless you open your hands, your mind, and your heart there is no place for a new thing to grow.You can even ” make time” without really creating space.A few weeks ago,I sat down to practice some of my songs for an upcoming show I was doing.I just wasn’t feeling it, really.Everthing felt kind of leaden and stale.I hate to say that about my own material.Then again it wasn’t the songs, it was me and my approach.I backed off a little.I gave more and different attention.I couldn’t make it perfect.It was going to be what it was.It needed some breathing room, the material I mean.Actually maybe it was me that needed the breathing room.

I am closing in on the marathon I signed up for some months ago.I am, as I said before,  somewhat behind in my training.Yesterday my goal was to run 20 miles but I stopped at 15.Why? I just felt like it was time to stop.I could have pushed through a couple more miles for sure but since I am a firm believer in trusting my instincts and listening to my body, I backed off.My longest run was last week at 18 miles.Now I am reading the “experts” say that you need to taper off your training as the race day gets closer.Maybe my instincts were right.I really wish I had made it to 20 though.My husband said, ” You have to remind yourself why you are doing this.” He is right.This is my first marathon and my goal is to finish.Tapering is like creating space because your giving your body a chance to prepare for the race by getting proper rest and nutrition while you are cutting back on the miles.It is difficult psychologically, though.You always think you could have done more ( especially in my case.)

One of the most challenging times we face is when we create space for something new and we are not sure what the “right thing” is.We may know what we don’t want and or/what is not working.We are afraid to take a chance, make a step for fear of making a mistake or wasting time.One thing that has worked for me in the past is to make a list of what I do know.For example…

    I know  I don’t want to be stuck in an unhealthy relationship. I know  I want to make use of my gifts and talents

    I know   I made this decision because of…( whatever circumstances)

Sometimes we can act busy in an attempt to fill up an uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty.I don’t know anything about that….NOT! Remember busy isn’t always productive.

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