Sunday, November 19, 2017

11/20/17—Fearing to Dream

Last week, Sunday came and went without a new post from me. It was the first time in seven years. I didn't even notice until the next day. 

That says a couple of things. One is that it has been harder and harder for me to write every week because I have only been subsisting for a couple of years. I haven't really been living. And also because I haven't felt like writing, but have been forcing myself to do it anyway, so as not to break the discipline. So there's an issue there.

I'm not going to write one of my epic posts today. But I will say that someone said something to me that I have really been contemplating lately, and that is relevant to this post. He said that there was a time when his own health was bad and he changed his diet, etc. and got better "to the point," he said, "that I found myself able to dream again."

It hit me right between the eyes. I haven't found myself able to dream for a very long time. I still haven't found the proper treatment for my asthma yet. So when they change my dosage or something, I feel better for a few months. Then a slow, gradual drop off happens without me noticing, until I'm miserable. Then I think it's allergies or a phase for a month or two. Then I finally realize I haven't felt well in a really long time. Then I go to the doctor. Like I'm doing this week. 

Rationally, I'm free to dream at any given moment. It's not like a person can't make that choice at any time. But I don't feel safe making it until I can move forward physically...until that part is finally taken care of. It's hard to dream and move toward a dream when just breathing is hard. I do need to be more proactive about things like adjusting medication and speaking up. But part of me can't move past feeling defeated right now. 

I'd have a lot of great ideas for someone else about this, I'm sure. But right now, I'm struggling. And I've been struggling a long time. I mean parts of my life are great. Work is going well. I have some supportive friends. And it's my favorite time of the year...cold enough for my babies to want to snuggle with me all the time. So it's not like I'm miserable. I'm just in neutral and having a hard time getting into gear. 

So that's what I have to say this week. Are you dreaming right now? Or are you afraid, too? 

I hope not to skip another week without you at least having something to read, but I might. Who knows? I don't want to force myself to the point I start hating it, you know? But I'm pretty sure that when I start feeling well enough to start dreaming again, you'll be the first to know. Then you'l probably wonder how to shut me back up again. :D

Sunday, November 5, 2017

11/6/17—Choosing Love

An updated classic post:

When I was a little girl, I had a secret fantasy. While other girls dreamed of princes and weddings and happily ever after, I dreamed about being so rich that I could have a room with nothing but stacks of fine china and walls to throw it against. 

So many things made me angry. We moved every two years. I was bullied for being overweight. I had a big family, but often felt alone. I had a lot of responsibilities at a young age. My mother and I would lock horns a lot. I often felt misunderstood at home and in school. In high school, my mother became terminally ill. Personal accomplishments were expected, so they weren't celebrated. And I never felt I had a voice in any part of my life. I learned not to complain about anything. 

So there was nowhere for all that frustration and anger to go. There were times as a child it would overwhelm me and I would have "breakdowns" that nobody ever knew about. I had plenty of alone time as a child to come unglued with nobody noticing. It scared me, but telling anyone would be fruitless. I was already known for being dramatic and, like I said, we really weren't allowed to complain about anything. My mother was either working and couldn't deal with it, being an Air Force "first lady" and couldn't deal with it or dying of cancer and couldn't deal with it. It was never a good time to have a problem. 

When I became an adult, a lot of things changed. First, I had a lot more control over my life and how many times I moved and how much my life would be disrupted. I got called names a lot less. I had a measure of professional success and felt noticed and appreciated. And, by the time I was 25, both of my parents were dead, so I created my own support network that would give me the affirmation or whatever it was that I needed. But more importantly, I found something bigger than myself to believe in and have faith in. 

At one point I realized that a lot of my anger came from things I had zero control over. And that anger was fueled by the fear of all the things that would be out of my control due to all the stuff I had no control over. And that made me feel very vulnerable. And, feeling alone as I did back then, I couldn't afford to be vulnerable. 

I reckon everyone reading this recognizes that last paragraph in some form or another. 

As we move along our spiritual path, we learn that life will always throw us stuff we have no control over. We learn that there is no situation where we don't have a choice, even though our options may not be ones we can abide. And we learn to cultivate a practice of letting go and having faith. We learn how to transcend much of our anger and fear. Which doesn't mean it's ever fully gone. I always make monks an exception—people who don't have to live in reality and can devote 24/7 to their faith and trust. But for most of us, fear and anger are things that are going to suck us in from time to time. 

I'm mentioning this because there is so much fear and anger these days. Ban Muslims! Don't take my guns! You're threatening my rights! You're threatening my way of living! What we really mean is "we're used to things the way they are—even though we'll concede it's not really working this way—and we are afraid of how things might change!" But we'll never say that because we're too busy holding on and being angry to see it. We're too afraid of change to even consider compromise. We feel vulnerable and don't feel like we can afford to be vulnerable. 

In a previous blog, I wrote about how I believe our behaviors come from one of two places—love or fear. There is value in both. But I find my life is lot happier if I make the lion's share of my moves from a place of love. And love includes trusting in the universe. Embracing change. Letting go and letting God. And trusting that our prayers are being answered, even if it doesn't look that way. There's a difference between "letting go and letting God" and just laying down and letting the world walk all over you. But fearful people don't know that, no matter how much they say they have faith, because they're not actually letting go. They're not actually trusting. Instead, they're holding on to fear. 

Lately I've been feeling a lot of anger myself. And, yes, fear over the direction our country is going. I am fine tuned to the news and I feel like I've been pulled down into that vortex that so many in this country haven chosen as their life since birth. And I know this is about fear, because I'm angry. That's my clue. And I know I feel out of control, because I feel like I'm standing by, powerless, as my wonderful country becomes overcome by fear, hate and a complete lack of compassion. I feel like there's nothing I can do to stop it. Because people who have lived their lives in fear, cannot be reasoned with, and they bring such darkness and alarm to any hint of anything that could be a solution, that we just keep careening into the abyss. Because that's where everyone wants to be.

This year, the World Happiness Report, which measures happiness using things like economy, life expectancy, freedoms, etc., had a special chapter on how much our nation's happiness has declined over the past couple of years, despite its growing wealth. It recommends, "The United States can and should raise happiness by addressing America's multi-faceted social crisis—rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust—rather than focusing on even mainly on economic growth, especially since the concrete proposals along these lines would exacerbate rather than ameliorate the deepening social crisis." I think we can all agree that won't be happening with our current leadership.

While this sounds dire, we were ranked #14 out of 150+ nations on this particular report. Other reports are not so generous. We are in the bottom 10 on the Happy Planet Index. The Harris Poll has 31% and 33% of Americans claiming happiness over the past two years. And a well-being poll puts us right toward the middle, which isn't bad when you consider we're practically tied with Canada. So it really depends on who you ask, how you measure and even where you live in the country.

In some ways, we have little to be afraid about. The last war that took place on our soil was 150 years ago and we fought it with ourselves. We've never been invaded by anyone. We've always been the invader. Historically, we've known no famine. Our economy is on the uptick. There's very little foreign terrorism or violence in our country—almost all of it is Americans killing Americans. At various times in history we were warned about what the Italians and Polish and Germans and Asians and Mexicans would do to our country if we let them in, and nothing ever happened. And yet so many in this country are terrified. In fact, we act like such assholes because of it that it's a wonder Canada and Mexico haven't joined forces to smack us down. 

But, to me at least, it feels like we're moving in those directions. It feels like our fear is manifesting things to be afraid of. Certainly the red-state fear manifested a president who plays Russian roulette with North Korea and who is a threat to many Constitutional freedoms. And I fear that my own fear is manifesting more fear. If you believe that what we believe we eventually achieve, our future doesn't look good.

I know what I need to do to get myself back on track. I need to disconnect from the sources of fear and move back towards sources of love. And if you're frustrated and pissed off, maybe you could do the same. It begins by asking yourself simple questions, like am I making this decision out of fear or love? Am I entering into this conversation out of fear or love? (hint: most debates come from fear) Am I doing what I'm doing out of fear or love? 

I have this knee jerk reaction in me that says "if I stop watching these fear-inducing things happen, then that's the same as giving up and letting them happen." But the truth is, my watching isn't doing anything to make things better. It just adds to the negativity, which breeds more negativitity. We're not going to heal this cancer by perpetuating it. And I'm not going to miss anything germinal by not watching. Someone will keep me apprised.

The more we move toward love...toward God or Jesus or the universe...the more blessed we become. I know this from personal experience. Living from a place of fear isn't freedom. It's not constructive to yourself or those around you. And it's really just barely living. 

This isn't about people who have different opinions than me. It sounds like it to the defensive and fearful, but it's not. We all have opinions and preferences. And we could all make up stories about where ours come from. I could say my obsession with sweets is about love. I love sweets. But if I'm honest with myself and look deeper, there's a lot of fear in my "love" of chocolate, because I usually crave it when I'm angry, stressed, bored or unhappy. So that's all I'll say. Ask yourself whether what you're doing, saying and thinking is coming from love or fear, and put your knee-jerk "I'm right and everyone else is wrong" attitude to the side long enough to let the truth shine through. 

We only get this one chance to live. Let's do what we need to do to live it from a place of love. There is no law that can be made, no president that can be elected, no circumstance that you could come across that could MAKE you live in fear and anger. It's an internal thing that only you have power over. You can choose love or not. You see it all over the globe in places where war, famine and poverty reign and there are still people choosing love. It is your mightiest power. It's your security in times of uncertainty, if you let it be. Know you have the power and choose love.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

10/30/17—Feeling Invisible

Once, when I was a teenager tripped out on mushrooms, I was convinced I was invisible.

I was in college. It was the first time I had ever tried mushrooms. I was in a car in a parking lot in front of an ATM machine. This was back in the early '80s when ATMs first came out and they had all sorts of bugs. I hated using them. To this day I don't have an ATM card. 

Anyway, my friends wanted to go into a bar and I was feeling like I couldn't be around people. So I sat in the car alone, in a parking lot in front of an ATM machine, and none of the people coming and going saw me sitting there, staring down the ATM. Except one guy. One guy saw me. I concluded he was probably invisible, too.

Ahhhh, youth. I'm pretty sure taking drugs like that would kill me today...haha. 

But it's interesting, because invisibility has been a bit of a theme in my life. Some of it is imposed invisibility. The irony of being overweight is that some people tend not to look at you. Strangers, I mean. There's a whole portion of society that prefers to just...not see. There is a lot of prejudice. So you can be quite large and walk down the street and be invisible. 

That's really true of all of us. People generally don't acknowledge others anymore. They avoid making eye contact. I'm an eye-contact maker when just casually walking down the street. I have been a tall, fit babe walking down the street and a tall, fat old lady walking down the street, and the babe is nowhere near as invisible. Men make eye contact and smile, women notice you. Same person. Different bodies. Different responses. 

Not that I'm complaining. I sometimes wonder if I keep the weight on because being invisible is more comfortable for me. Truth is, invisibility is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it conjures times of emotional/social abandonment and being lost in the shuffle of my family and our nomadic lifestyle. Sometimes it conjures feelings of freedom and safety in my own little world. I have always been quite fond of my own little world.

I wouldn't be surprised if my neighbors thought I was invisible. They never see me. I sneak in and out of the shadows of my hermit life. In fact, what got me thinking of it was that I sit on my porch most nights, a large woman with a large, handsome, fluffy dog—right there in front of a colorful house, set amidst a sea of ecru and white houses—and nobody ever sees me! Cyclists ride by, cars drive by, people walk by—people walking dogs that Kizzie barks at walk by—and nobody sees me! I mean, a few know to look for me there because they know me. But people are generally off in their own safe worlds. Not even the little boy I talked about a couple of weeks ago has ever noticed me.

And I'll also say I'm invisible to the government right now. Nothing is going my way under Trump. My self-employed healthcare went through the roof recently. I earn too much for subsidies. I'm part of the middle class he swore to help. No surprise, but Trump lied and he made matters worse than they ever would have been had he not started undermining the ACA by removing subsidies that keep all of the marketplace low.

I know better than to expect people to see me. Society is just that way. It's nothing personal about me. But I've been feeling especially invisible lately. And I see others disappearing before my very eyes in the current climate. Individuals no longer seem to matter much, and it troubles me. So I'm going to make more of a point to catch people's eye and flash them a smile moving forward. Like I said, sometimes I like being invisible and sometimes I don't. That's me. But those who don't like it might be feeling hopeless and lost these days and I want them to know they are seen. 

The government can change laws, sideline certain populations and put others at risk. Technology and cell phones can drive people into more insulated worlds. But nothing can take away our humanity and sense of community unless we let it.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

10/23/17—Seeing Passion Again

I had a very emotional day or two come to me this week. It came out of the blue. I thought I'd tell you about it.

The day after I moved into my house back in 1999, a little puppygirl moved in. I named her Passion. At the time, I'd carried around a key fob with "passion" on it for years to remind me to always follow my passion. And one of my passions was dogs. 

Regular readers know me as a big lover of the canine set. I currently have three dogs. But for five years, it was just me and Passion...Pashie. Pashie grew to be 100lbs of alpha female aggression and stubbornness. She wasn't human aggressive at all. But she did not like female dogs. Nor did she like male dogs who questioned her authority. And in the 10 years I knew her, despite trying all sorts of alpha rolling and other things you read about online, she never quite conceded to me either. Passion and I both share the strong, stubborn woman gene. We were, at once, each other's most loyal compatriot and biggest pain in the ass.

It quickly became clear to me that Passion wasn't like other dogs. Most dogs have dog souls. Passion, I felt, had a human soul. I don't say that lightly. I wouldn't say it about any other dog I've had, save maybe one when I was growing up. I'm quite convinced Passion was someone from my soul group who loved me so much that s/he volunteered to come here and live the short, boring, dependent, and captive life of a dog in order to teach me what love is, and how to love.

And by love, I don't mean care for. I mean love. Unconditionally. And not just love unconditionally, but love in a way that, even if you don't get love in return, you give it without the expectation of reciprocity. And the kind of love that, even when they make you mad, you can't really go there. Because you are always aware that you will land right back at love again. So what's the point? Love—and the surrender to it—was a power and a blessing Passion and I held over each other.

I consider that a great privilege. Because while some people learn that kind of love, some do not quite get there in this lifetime. Not in a romantic relationship. Not in a friend relationship. Or even in a parent-child relationship. And some don't even know what love is. They think of it as sex. Affirmation. Attention. Money...any number of things. And because they don't know what it is, they don't know how to fully give it or feel it either. They don't know how to surrender. And love is one of—if not THE—greatest things for a soul to learn. I myself, never learned it from a man. Or a parent. Or anyone else. I think my mother came the closest to knowing it and feeling it, but anything I learned about it from her pales in comparison to what I ended up learning from a dog. 

Wrapping up the story of Passion so I can tell you what happened, when Passion was five I could see she was bored. And since Passion and I were both stubborn, and also because both of us just take ourselves too damned seriously, I proposed getting another dog. That dog was Kizzie, the boy I watch sunsets with. I let Passion co-parent him. And she ruled with an iron fist. I'm adding in many links, because the story of Passion and what I learned from her has so many good nuggets I couldn't possibly say them all here. Anyway, she was rather oppressive to be around for both me and Kizzie, and I think she has visited many times to make it up to Kizzie, at least. 

Pashie as a puppygirl, still growing into her ears.
As you can see from the picture above, Passion was a beautiful dog. And she had this quirky thing where one ear stood straight up and the other flopped down. Another thing you might be able to see in that top pic is the regal, soulful way she could look at you. So one of "our things" was that I might catch sight of her and, with hands on top of my head simulating ears, I would signal one ear up and one ear down. And then I would smile or laugh, because my god, she was just so precious.

So earlier this week I'm at a stop light and, in the back of the jeep in front of me, I see a German Shepard mix with one ear up and one ear down. Without thinking, my hands were on top of my head, and I was laughing. Until I realized it had been 8 or 9 years since I had done that. Then I cried. At which point the dog looked at me head-on and looked EXACTLY like that photo above...that soulful look. And in the black and brown of the dog in the back of the jeep somehow...somehow I saw my red-headed Passion. For a second, she was there. And I lost it. 

All that day and most of the next I felt her with me. And each time I thought of her, I started weeping. At one point, I "asked her" why she was here. Kizzie is old and I was afraid maybe she was coming for him. But what I heard back was, "I come and see you all the time, but you never see me. I wanted you to see me." I'm crying again, just thinking about it. 

You know, I had mentioned that Pashie's strong personality was oppressive. And as guilty as I feel saying it, there was some release when she died. Of course I was heartbroken, but I also felt the lifting of the oppression. As a kid we got a new dog immediately after the old dog died. So within a few weeks, Kizzie and I chose the funny, sweet, loving and incredibly loyal Magick Moonbeam. 

Kizzie and Magick, sharing guard duty in the back yard.
I don't feel like I neglected mourning Passion. She died right before a weeklong vacation and Kizzie and I healed a great deal during that time. Passion had once had a really deeply spiritual encounter with a deer...I should tell that story sometime ...and we went to the site of that and held a little ceremony for her. And after her ashes came back, he and I released them where she wanted them the river she loved to swim in. 

But I don't know. This German Shepard thing made me realize for the first time in a long time how much I missed her. And, at first I thought maybe all the crying was some sort of delayed grief. But maybe it was just to remind me that the mourning never goes away. The missing never goes away. My mother has been gone 33 years—way longer than I ever knew her—and I can still ache from missing her. 

But maybe there is yet another reason this made me cry. What Passion "said" really strikes me...she can see me, but I can't see her. Pictures are one thing, but seeing that kind of "incarnation" is stunning. When she was alive, I used to tease her by saying, "You pretend not to love me, but you really do." Chow dogs are known to be aloof. Passion meted out her demostrative love like a miserly old lady pulling a quarter out of a coin purse. It was part of the oppression...lots of stern looks and a blase attitude toward snuggles and kisses and other shows of affection. 

But this week she came back, not just to see me, but also so I could see her back. And maybe that's why this has been so emotional for me. Passion really did love me after all. She loved me every bit as deeply as I loved her. And she finally learned how to show it.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

10/16/17—Redefining Goals

Lately, while watching the sunset with Kizzie, I've been seeing a man and a little boy walking through the neighborhood. My guess is they are father and son.

The little boy might be around four years old. And he's very curious. They move slowly because he needs to inspect the bark on a tree. Or pick up an acorn. Or look at a plant. Or run his finger through the crack in the sidewalk. Or follow a passing squirrel to see where he's going. By my count, he stops an average of four times for each property. It's a long block, so it must take at least an hour to walk around.

And while that's all sweet and everything, what really catches my interest is the father. Because he is SO patient. And not only that, but he points stuff out for his son to stop and inspect. It's really nice to see a father spending that kind of quality time with his son, especially in a region where most people are workaholics and hire aupairs to deal with their progeny.

The dad's patience got me thinking. I could never be that dad. My god. If you're going for a walk, then go for a walk! This kid stops way more than my dogs do to sniff and whatnot, and sometimes I'm too impatient even for their sniffing.

To me, the goal of a walk is for you to get to the end efficiently. It wasn't always that way. When I was in better shape, the goal might have been sustained aerobic activity. Enjoyment. Or to see scenery on a hike. But now, I guess, it's just to get it done. Which makes me a little sad, but that's for a different blog post. This post is about patience. And goals. And it's also a little about "thank god Tierney never had children because she is definitely not suited for the reality of being a parent."

There are times I can muster patience. But I don't really need to practice it very often. Most goals in my life are met before patience comes into play. Or maybe that means I'm sufficiently patient enough to enable my goals. Looking at that man and his boy, however, I saw there were levels of patience way beyond what would be realistic for me. And don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking that. I admire his patience. I'm just saying I clearly am lacking because it would drive me batty. I could do one walk like that maybe, but they're out there a couple of times a week!

Still, I can see what a special time it is for both of them. My dad had no patience for his children, which is probably where I get my lack of patience for them from. And as a result, I grew up feeling like I wasn't worthy of that effort. That little boy will never forget how his dad took time for him, tried to see the world through his eyes, and was truly interested in whatever interested him. It's a very healthy and wonderful thing, assuming he's not similarly indulged at home. Then it could turn the kid into a monster. But from my front stoop, as I sit there with one around my boy, singing to him and whispering sweet nothings even though he's a dog, it's a beautiful thing to see.

This has also got me thinking about where I might be chasing the wrong goals. For me, on a walk with a child, my goal would be to get to the end. But look at all I'd be missing. Like my time on the stoop with Kizzie, this is probably the best time of that dad's day. (And, in my defense, plenty of people don't have the patience to watch a sunset, so I do have some patience in me.) It's like how my dieting goals are screwed goal is to sufficiently deprive, rather than strategically nourish, for example. Or with exercise...the goal is clearly to torment myself with inaction, instead of strengthening my asthma addled lungs or some other more compelling reason. Up until recently the goal with my book writing was to power through, as if it is a chore. Instead, now I'm more inspired to serve the needs of people who want to form a one-on-one connection with spirit. It's a more fulfilling goal.

So it's a question worth considering, especially in places you're stuck or unable to move forward. Maybe instead of beating yourself up for not meeting a goal, maybe you're pursuing the wrong goal in the first place. That man's goal is not to take a walk with his son. It's to make special moments with his son so he doesn't miss out on anything. Both goals get you to the same finishing line, but one is more motivating and fulfilling. How might you apply this to your life?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

10/7/17—Enjoying the View

Here's a classic post...

I was giving a reading the other day and said something so wise I surprised even myself! :D I may not be the first to say it, but its worthy of repeating and reconsidering even if you've heard it before. Plus, I've been living it and considering it for a few days and it's a great thought to carry around... 

At this very moment, your dream has come true and your future dreams are coming true. Today was a day you dreamed of. 

Think about it. THIS was a moment you dreamed into fruition. And even though it may feel like a "flawed moment"...or not as perfect as the dream you is nonetheless the moment of manifestation for you. A moment to cherish and celebrate. 

Consider that everything that happened today and will happen tomorrow is in response to a prayer you put out. We're always making dreams of the future...always working toward a future dream that continually expands ever further into the future as we meet goals, take unexpected turns and live our daily lives. And because of this, it seems like today is just never good enough. But today is the answer to a dream you had not that long ago. Rejoice in the answer to a dream rather than poo poo it as not as good as the revised vision you have now. You couldn't even have that vision if you didn't once dream the dream you're living today. 

A year ago I dreamed I'd be more mentally clear and more physically capable. And I am. And yet it's not good enough. I want even more now. And a curse of being human is that we don't know how to exist without a dream of something more. So we're never satisfied with what we have. The thirst for more serves a purpose in moving us forward. But with all these mountains we climb, we really should take the time to enjoy the view. Living a life of purpose that doesn't account for appreciating the beauty of the process is missing the point, imo. 

Part of the challenge of taking personal responsibility for having dreamed this and every day of our lives—whether consciously or unconsciously—is realizing that the things we dreamed of, in the reality we actually live in, have upsides and downsides. For example, I dreamed of having dogs. So when I carry three sacks of poo with me for a mile on a walk, that's a day I dreamed of. Because that's part of the reality of dogs. 

Say that, years back, you dreamed of the day you'd be married to the spouse you have now. Or say you dreamed of getting the job you have now. And now you're unhappy with that situation, whatever it is. Dreams, when translated into reality, have upsides and downsides. So this is a day you dreamed of. 

And so imagine that today you're dreaming of being free of that job or marriage. Then, in reality, things are probably going to get worse before they get better, because most of us need to be pretty miserable to take on changes like that. Therefore, the miserable times are all days you dreamed would happen. And now imagine that you're free of that situation, at last. But you're feeling lonely on Friday night or are unemployed or maybe having trouble settling in to your new job. Those are all days you dreamed of, too. And if you want to change that, it's likely it will all get worse before it gets better, so those are the days you're dreaming of now when you dream of changing the situation. 

And the same goes for all the happy and neutral days we all have, too. I just didn't mention them, because it's easier to imagine the good days being days you dreamed of. We'll readily take credit for having brought those into fruition using our powerful dreaming abilities...haha. 

So consider taking your head out of all that you want to accomplish before next month, next year or the end of your life and spend some time appreciating the powerful fact that you created today. It is an answer to a prayer. You are that good. So good, in fact, that all the dreams you have for tomorrow are unfolding effortlessly as we speak, just as today unfolded from yesterday's dreams. 

By the time we fulfill our intentions and reach the places we dreamed of yesterday, it's too late to enjoy the process. And, besides, we already have a new dream in mind that we're focused on instead. The only time to really appreciate and enjoy the striving is not when we've reached our destination, because we never really do. It's day by day as we're experiencing it. 

Today is the day you once dreamed of. You are magic. You are literally living the dream. Celebrate the beauty of this moment.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


Lately I feel like I'm winning.

I've had two perfect, one-on-one, mommy-and-me dates with my dogs recently. I've been having good parkma. Work is doing ok. I've been doing some writing on my book. I lit the pictured fire with one match tonight.* The weather has finally realized it's fall. And I don't feel like killing myself lately. Perhaps my bar is set a little low, but I'll take it.

Anyway, some of this is due to circumstance, but I've also been using my One Better Decision method of getting out of ruts. Basically, it's this. We have all these bad or unproductive habits and we make unconscious decisions about them every day. So if we consciously replace one of those decisions with one different or better decision each day, it will shake us out of our rut. We just need to zig where we tend to habitually zag.

As an example, I wanted to work more on my book. For months, the only thing I've done about my book is feel guilty about not doing anything. So each day, I did something small, rather than do nothing at all. One day I attended a writing teleseminar. Another day I jotted down some notes when I had a thought, instead of telling myself I'd remember. I've written a few nights, instead of not writing. One day I came across two articles I could use to help shape some thoughts and bookmarked them. Tonight as I was watching the fire, I watched it through the eyes of me after I've met my goal...I visualized my dream. See, it doesn't have to be a big thing or a time-consuming thing. Just do something you're not doing now. Making progress at a snail's pace is better than making no progress at all. And progress begets more and better progress. It never fails me. I feel better after doing it for a week or two every time. The only flaw with it is that I tend to stop doing it once I'm feeling good and productive again.

But there are also cycles we go through. I am emerging from a long dormant cycle. And lately I've also been noticing progress that happened while I was in my pupa. So I'm bolstered by that. And I've had some positive vibes about the future. I've also had some very nice, satisfying days lately. Even if I'm just being lazy, I'm savoring more. I wish I'd been born someone who feels happy and hopeful and confident all the time. If that person even exists. But I don't get that often enough in my life...or haven't even really felt that way for years. At least not for any notable length of time.

But even with that, I'm feeling hopeful. Because my depression and other issues make me a virtual font of things to write about that help others who may be having my issue du jour. I have spent a lot of time feeling "broken" or put upon by my emotional happenings, both chemical/hormonal and self-made. And I've never really noticed or acknowledged that part of me as my special divine gift. 

For Van Gogh and Sylvia Plath and many others, it was the fuel behind their legendary expressions of art. Edvard Munch, the artist of The Scream, said, "My fear of life is necessary to me, as is my illness. Without anxiety and illness, I am a ship without a rudder ... my sufferings are part of my self and my art. They are indistinguishable from me, and their destruction would destroy my art."

Could it be possible that the very thing I've let debilitate and limit me throughout my life, is also my divine gift? Could its equivalent in you also be yours? For me, it's beginning to look that way. Little did I realize that I may have been winning all along.

*Just for funsies, open up the picture and see if you can see a woman's face in the smoke, just at the top edge of the bowl, immediately to the left of the flame. It is very faint, but very detailed in the faintness. I have captured a girl in the smoke in the same place twice before and tonight I asked if the girl was there when I took this pic. This looks more like a woman, but whatever. Also, over to the right, a little above the edge, there's very clear dog's head or horse head in an oddly manifested flame. It's in the flame and not the smoke.