Friday, December 28, 2012

Embrace the choosing

Photo:  S. Dawn Sievers
Someone close to me has positively commented, more than once, on my habit of taking charge (i.e., control) of my own emotions.  What this person is pointing out is that I tend to only allow myself to dwell in negative thoughts for a short amount of time.  Over a lifetime of learning and experiencing the myriad emotions we are given on this Earth School, in these physical bodies which house our souls, I have come to the firm opinion that a vast majority of my existence is fully within my power to govern.  I don't know whether this habit is especially noteworthy, or cause for praise; I do know that I have a short window of tolerance for being and feeling miserable.  So, when I find myself on the brink of dwelling in negativity, I choose to change.

Some will argue the point that we have even a modicum of control over our lives.  Many will say that we are merely pawns of cause and effect, being tossed about on the tides of chance and Fortune.  I don't deny the school of thought that there are fragments of chance that affect us all.  I think a great deal of the beauty of life is what we perceive as the unexpected.  If Life were all neatly planned out and responded to tidy lists and projections, I think we would all be a very dull, bland bunch.  Getting back to my point, though, I believe we have choice in everything.  I believe that even that which we perceive as an "accident" is something that has come to us, that we have invited and allowed in order to learn and grow.  Call them surprises, if you like - the moments that throw us off kilter and force Life to shift in the blink of an eye.  By their very nature, surprises force change, so they are an integral part of life for us all.

Can we control when tragedy hits our horizon?  When someone we love leaves us, whether through death or the end of a relationship, can we control this?  Can we control losing a job that is needed to pay bills and keep a roof over our heads?  Of course not.  The only thing that we can control is how we react to a given situation.  I have said time and time again that we are defined by how we choose to react to Life.  We define ourselves by the choices we make and by our subsequent actions.  When negative moments hit, dismay, anger, sadness, grief and a boatload of equally negative emotions are there at the door, waiting to set up housekeeping inside us.  It is normal and healthy to feel all of those feelings, honor them, process them.  Dwelling in those negatives indefinitely is not healthy, and we all know this as a sure truth. We can remain apathetic and downtrodden, as this is a conscious choice.  Or we can choose a different reality.  There is no shame in this process taking a while, by the way.  Healing and growing has a different time table for each of us, and will also vary per the situation and circumstances.  Being kind and loving to ourselves during this part of the process is essential.

As I write this article, 2012 is ticking down to its final days.  It is human nature to reflect on the waning year and take stock of what we experienced.  Looking back on my own Life Path, I note a year that was challenging on several levels.  It was interspersed with beautiful moments, yet I found myself focusing on the sadness as I reflected.  I didn't like sadness being my immediate perspective, so I began to ponder.  I began to ask myself why I was coloring this year in sadness, and the answer is that I am currently going through some personal experiences that are not what and where I want them to be.

That's when the moment of epiphany hit my fair self.  If I were driving a car, I would have hit the brakes to come to a screeching halt, it was such an "A-ha!" moment.  That epiphany moment was this:
Life is rarely what we want it to be.  
We all know this, yes?  This wasn't news to me, obviously.  It just popped into my mind in a manner, and at a crucial moment, that woke me up and shook me out of this current gray stage I've been inhabiting.  So, I repeat:  Life is rarely what we want it to be.  We also...most of us, I would think....have come to the realization that when we do not get that cherished wish, it is a blessing in disguise.  Sometimes we DO get that cherished wish, but it is delayed.  The timing simply hasn't come to fruition.

So, I pondered.  And I contemplated.  And I turned my thoughts over and over, considering options that would shift how I have been feeling.  In doing so, I came to another moment of epiphany.

What is at the moment is not what has to be in the future.  
I think I want that statement on a t-shirt.  I mean it!  That statement flowed from my fingertips effortlessly, and as I read the words back, I am struck by the profound truth of the thought.  I have it within my ability and power to create a new version of what is, and I am able to do this, create this new version by choosing my thoughts, feelings and perceptions.  I can choose to release limiting thoughts.  I can choose to believe that what is, at this moment, is necessary for this moment, but it is not necessary for the future.

I was perilously close to creating more of the same sadness and negativity for my immediate future, by the very act of focusing on it and mentally bewailing what I perceived to be infinite.  That's where I slammed on the proverbial brakes.  2012 brought a great many lessons for me.  It was not an easy year, and I do not throw those words out lightly.  It was, however, a year of learning on levels that I hadn't been privy to up until this point in time.  I wasn't ready for those lessons until now.  They weren't for the faint of heart, and I managed to weather them with a certain amount of Grace.  Those lessons, the Big Ones, the ones that delivered big wallops of wow, they're not finished.  I recognize that there is more to be done there.  More to learn, more to absorb, more to embrace, more to share, more to live.

So, I shifted my perspective.  I stopped pouring regret into my current experience, and I began to pour appreciation into who I am as a result of those lessons.  I released frustrations, regrets and resentments, as those are three of the most self-defeating, crippling emotions that I have ever identified.  I am pouring appreciation and anticipation into the immediate future where all is possible.  This may sound very overly optimistic, perhaps unrealistic.  To the contrary; I believe it is vitally necessary to be aggressively optimistic and to ignore more of those self-defeating words/thoughts such as "unrealistic".  Being happy and fulfilled is never unrealistic.  How we choose to address that need, that dream, that expectation....that is the important facet.

Consider what a facet does in a gemstone.  It is designed to reflect and refract bounce that light in multiple directions, to multiply it and create a light storm that is dazzling to the soul.  A simple, flat plane gives finite reflection and a flat, one dimensional view.  I consciously choose to create that light storm with my thoughts, with my perspective, and in so doing, provide conditions that are limitless for that light to amplify, to expand in all directions.  And in the very doing, the very choosing, I felt an instantaneous lifting, a lightening of my Spirit.  A weight literally lifted from my heart.  Feeling better, reaching for that next best good feeling...these are Divine and Universal Laws.  That which we focus upon, we amplify.  That which we amplify, we invite more of into our personal experience, and it becomes an exponential act.  This amplifying applies to both positive and negative emotions - this is a key fact for all of us to remember!  If we dwell in negativity, it amplifies and sets the tone for our immediate future.  I certainly see the logic in focusing on positive emotions, expectations, dreams and wishes, as those are all what I choose as the set points for my immediate future.  Feeling better feels better.  So simple, yes?  It can be, but we have to choose to allow it first.

I am like most people in that I've experienced a couple of moments in life that fall into the category of clinical depression.  I know what that disordered chemical imbalance does to the thought process.  I know how dismal and dark the whole world can look and feel to anyone going through that level of depression.  I know the irrational thoughts that are processed that, at the time, make complete sense as they're being thought.  For whatever reason, I was either blessed or cursed with a stubborn character that refuses to let me completely give up.  Even in the midst of the worst depression episodes I've experienced (there were two - one hit when I was 19 and the other in my mid-30s), I knew in my heart that they would pass.  This is when the aspect of impermanence becomes one of the most valuable tools we are given as human beings. When we view a single life span, it is so fleeting.  From that perspective, that life truly is such a short span of time, there is hope to be gleaned from the canvas of impermanence.  "This, too, shall pass" is one of the most loving, reassuring statements to reflect upon when the world feels permanently dark and sad.  Our free will to choose is there, waiting for us to remember the power we are granted from our very first waking moment.

Those moments of epiphany are powerful, either as a sudden clap of thunder or as a soft brush of insubstantial mist drifting by.  It might not be that slamming on of proverbial brakes, big wallop of wow moment for you as it was for me.  I tend to be a bit more hard headed than some, so it occasionally takes a bit more force to grab my attention.  For some of you, the epiphany may come as easily as your next breath slipping into, and out of your body. The very slight shifting of perspective is simply powerful, regardless of its delivery, and it all narrows down to choice.  Choosing how we want to feel.  Choosing how we want to think.  Choosing how we want to view a set of circumstances.  Choosing how we want the tone of our life to resonate.  It might be different for each of you, this awareness manifesting.  Easier said than done, of course, but oh-so-powerful when we come to recognition and embrace the choosing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gazing at magic

Photo courtesy of
*This post was originally written in July of 2010.  It remains one of my favorite childhood memories of the Christmas holidays, so I was inspired to share it again. Please note that some of the photos depicted only have Bing images as provenance, as Blogger didn't offer the feature of annotating photos when this post was originally written.*

When I was very young, we lived in a small, single wide trailer.  The space was limited, with the washing machine in the one bathroom, and the clothes dryer set into a corner of the small living room.  It was next to the clothes dryer that we always set up the Christmas tree, against the wall to allow for the rest of the floor space to be clear.  This meant that there was just enough space between the branches of the tree and the dryer for the clothes dryer door to be opened and the controls to be reached.  It was also just enough space for one wee little girl to scoot in and sit with back against the clothes dryer, feet tucked close, elbows on knees to support small chin on small hands....and gaze upward at the twinkling lights.

I was spellbound by the beauty of each year's Christmas tree.  The tinsel softly shifting and catching and reflecting the tree lights.  The tree lights themselves were a whole fascinating experience all their own.  Who remembers the individual painted lightbulbs that had to be screwed into the individual sockets on the strings of Christmas tree lights?  They also had individual, colored reflectors, stamped out of solid sheets of metal with fluted edges that could be deadly sharp, and these reflectors could be fitted between the light bulb and the socket, securing them as decoration.

Photo courtesy of
Bing images
The light bulbs were easily the size of a man's thumb and were coated with opaque primary colored, green, yellow, blue and orange.  I found this one photo to the left of these old beauties. The lady in the photo is country music legend, Brenda Lee. While these lights don't have the metal wheel reflectors I've attempted to describe, it gives you an idea of what I'm talking about. We would sit on the floor with my Mother, painstakingly testing each light socket and bulb, selecting the colors so that they didn't repeat, and choosing with equal precision the reflector wheels.  We always made strings of popcorn and cranberries, as money was limited to purchase expensive garland.  The few garlands that we did have were made of a tightly wound tinfoil, sometimes dual colored, others were gold or silver, and were crinkly and rustling in our hands as they were strung around the tree.

To a small child, the finished result, covered in clumps of silver tinsel when we would grow tired of the decorating process, was always beautiful.  I could sit quietly tucked between the clothes dryer and Christmas tree and look at all the colors and textures.  Gazing upward into the tree provided a whole different perspective than you could get from standing in front of it and viewing it.  Looking upwards, all the lights cast a soft, lambent glow that seemed to fill the inner spaces of the tree and produce a fairytale atmosphere.  Even at that young an age, I was weaving stories in my head about the things that captured my imagination.

Photo courtesy of
Bing images
At some point, my Mom would notice I was missing and call my name, walking by and not thinking to look for me tucked down beneath the tree.  "Here I am," I would smile up at her, waving a hand to catch her attention.  "What are you doing down there on the floor?" was usually her question.  "Watching the's so pretty!"  One evening, to my everlasting delight, my wonderful Mom didn't ask the usual question.  Instead, she carefully shifted the Christmas tree slightly sideways, got down on the floor next to me and joined me in my nightly routine.  We sat there, me tucked cozily against my Mom's side, her clean, soft fragrance touching my senses, her heartbeat against my ear as I cuddled close.  She reached over and caught my hand in hers, and we gazed at magic together. 

My older sister and brother were occupied with a game and we weren't interrupted....something very rare for the youngest of three, as I was, to get such an extended quiet moment with our Mom.  She was raising us alone and dealing with very challenging circumstances.  Money was always an issue, yet she found ways to make our childhood carefree, secure and content.  And that particular evening, she indulged my whimsical nature by joining me and gazing at magic. 

Eventually, something broke the spell and the moment ended.  Dinner needed to be fixed, small bodies needed baths and bedtime loomed imminent.  But for that one lovely moment, we just sat there together and gazed up from the floor into the heart of that Christmas tree, hypnotized and enthralled by the warm glow of lights and decorations.  I can remember my Mom climbing to her feet, extending a hand to pull me up, and bending down to kiss me, saying, "Thank you, honey.  That was beautiful.  Let's do it again soon."

Have you ever tried this?  This year during the winter holiday season, if you decorate a Christmas tree in your home, take a few moments to sit on the floor, close in to the tree, and gaze upwards into the center of it.  I sometimes will even lie down on the floor and scoot directly underneath the tree to gain the best view.  It might sound slightly bizarre, but I assure you it will provide you with a breathtaking experience.  Clear your mind and simply gaze at the magic.

It might seem odd that this post was originally written during July, having Christmas as a focal point.  I don't know why the thoughts twined together to produce this blog article with a Christmas theme during summer months in East Tennessee, but I feel it expressed a valuable and beloved memory that was worth sharing, regardless of the time of year.

Such are some of the blissful moments of my childhood.  My beautiful Mom sheltered us from the challenging reality of admittedly difficult times and provided a secure, loving and nurturing home.  She also allowed for those magical moments and on occasion, she would embrace them and join us.  This Christmas tree moment is one of my most cherished memories.  From that day and many others, I learned to embrace my ability to find magic in the most unexpected places and it is something that gives me particular joy.  It is a connection to my wonderful Mom, who recognized that evening, that her youngest child was slightly different, slightly fey, and completely unique. 

Photo courtesy of
Bing images
She taught me, in subsequent years, that this side of my nature was beautiful and to be celebrated.  I still gaze at magic, and sometimes I'm able to share those moments with my Mom.  She doesn't always see the world in the same starlit glow that I do, but she appreciates this part of who I, her youngest child, am.  I gaze at magic, because I was taught by a lovely woman, my Mom, that this is a beautiful and natural thing.  I hope those who read this post have those special moments as well.  I would wish for you all to have the unique ability to regularly find and regularly enjoy...gazing at magic.

Namaste', and beautiful holiday wishes to you all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

We continue.

Today, December 14, 2012 is a very sad day in the history of the United States.  In the town of Newtown, Connecticut, a young man walked into Sandy Hook elementary school and opened fire in a kindergarten class, killing children and going on to kill several adults throughout the school.  He also committed murder at a separate location. As of a few minutes ago, the death toll had reached 20 children and six adults dead.

Social media swept the story across the world in mere seconds, giving rise to typical and inevitable accusations, theories and debates.  I experienced a true level of frustration at the fact that the debating and arguing began before those slain have even been given over to their families to begin the mourning process.  I find that part of the whole thing to be shameful, distasteful and disrespectful to the memories of the ones slain and to the integrity of the surviving loved ones.  Now is not the time to raise squabbling and ranting about gun control, or how the United States should be able to manage this type of insanity more efficiently.

So, how do we get through this type of tragedy, when it is so overwhelming and so senseless?  It tears at the heart in a particularly piercing manner to know that 20 wee lives were extinguished.  Young ones who had their whole lives ahead of them, going to school, innocent and deserving of protection and an inalienable sense of safety.  Six adult lives extinguished who performed a noble task daily, teaching young ones and stewarding them through each calendar year.  It is beyond human ability to comprehend, to absorb.  Yet, we do it, somehow.

We do keep living through the trauma moments, as well as the fallout and recovery of it all.  Through the doing of what needs to be done, we keep living through it.

There is also a level of Grace that occurs in the midst of this type of trauma.  We shift into a level of auto-pilot reality where we are somewhat removed from our bodies and emotions.  It's a protective mechanism, what shock does to our body and our mind, our reasoning.  I can clearly recall the thoughts that run through my mind at such a moment, when I have been faced with a tragedy of such enormous proportions that have stretched my ability to respond.

*Please know that these thoughts are not meant to undermine, or compare to, the incredible grief that the families of the ones slain today in Connecticut are experiencing.*:

"This can't be happening."  And I keep living through it.

"This isn't real."  And I keep living through it.

"I don't know how I'm going to do this."  And I keep living through it.

"I don't think I can do this." And I keep living through it.

"I can't believe I'm doing this."  And I keep living through it.

"This doesn't seem real, now that I'm doing it."  And I keep living through it.

"I can't believe I made it through that." And I keep living after I've done it.

"I don't know how I got through that." And I keep living after I've done it.

"I don't know how I'm going to keep living, now - the pain is still so overwhelming."  And I keep living through it.

"Looking back, I have no idea how I did everything that needed doing during that time."  And I keep living.

This is the unquestionable beauty of the human spirit, that we continue.  Despite all manner of crippling tragedy, we continue.  These human forms that house our Spirit slip into a mechanical state to allow us a buffer, and this is how we continue.  In a numbed state, on automatic pilot, guided by the kindness and love of those around us, if we're fortunate and blessed.  Lifted up by the equal kindness of complete strangers.  A simple touch, or a smile, or a task done without our asking.  A quiet moment where we are received and embraced and allowed to be in our raw grief without judgment.

In the coming days, more details will surface as to the motives of the young man who committed this unspeakable crime.  Endless debates about gun control will reign ad infinitum.  Discussion about mental health and the failings of our healthcare system will also jockey for position in the media.  Sensationalism, unfortunately, will also race at the head of the pack, spewing out needless details that do dishonor to the name of the media.

For now, in my opinion, it is a time to look to most precious to each of us.  If you are reading this and you are safe, secure, well fed, reasonably healthy, have a roof over your head and you are loved, take a moment to dwell in prayer, if you are so inclined.  Pray for the lives cut short today; pray for their loved ones as they navigate the unthinkable process of accepting what has occurred.  Pray for the young man who was so lost and confused, filled with unexplained rage to the degree that he chose this action.  Just pray.  Love the ones who mean the most to you.

Speak your love to them daily, because the one sure truth that we know is that tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

Speak your love, while you are given the blessing of time to do so.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Faith in the waiting

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

— T. S. Eliot, poem, East Coker

This snippet from T.S. Eliot was on my Facebook page recently, and I've returned to it several times over the last couple of days. It has prompted me to ponder deeply, and when I do that, I tend to process through the pondering better when I write the thoughts out.

At first glance, the words above appear negative and self-defeating.  Wait without hope, wait without love.  What is being expressed, though, is to shift our thinking.  It is more of existing in that moment....that space between exhaling and taking the next breath.  Just being there in that suspended fraction of time as we mark it from a human perspective.  And doing so without expectations.  Without Ego attempting to plant a flag of victory.  Much easier said than done, yes?

2012 has been a year full of self-discovery for me.  It's been a year of extremes, in fact.  Some moments so beautiful that they pierced my heart and left a permanent mark of equal beauty.  Other moments so painful, so wrenching and final in this corporeal reality that they left a different permanent mark....a jagged tear in my heart and soul.  I've grappled with these extremes and somehow, survived it all.  We do that, don't we.  We survive. 

It should be noted that surviving the beautiful moments can sometimes be just as challenging, if not more so, as the difficult moments.  

Those beautiful moments...the positive experiences....they can be scary.  They can show us a possible reality that we have dreamed of, wished for, planned for.  The potential manifesting of that reality can throw us off kilter and the common reaction can be panic.  I know this is a truth for me occasionally.  And therein lays the pitfall of expectations.  How we want Life to be.  How we want Love to be.  How we want Work to be.  How we want Health to be.  

This year, I've been confronted with releasing expectations in several very important areas.  And really, what that boils down to is releasing control.  *gasp*  I know, sounds crazy to most of us.  Believe me, I'm not a fan of that concept, releasing control.  Ego leads the race for most of us in that regard. Yet, I am a logical being, and I accept that enforcing rigidity can stifle growth. So, I've continued that refining of Self within the context of those vital areas, and I've recognized where I need to do more work.  It's a curious process, because I do tend to be quite aware of my own psychology, my own emotional patterns.  This year, however, ushered in a life experience tied to another and that relationship produced experiences and a mirror that reflected repeatedly, challenging me greatly.

Right now, I'm in a holding pattern in regard to these several vital areas.  That requires a good amount of patience and as mentioned above, faith.  Releasing those expectations, releasing the desire and urge to step in and marshal the troops, draft a plan of attack and take no prisoners.  Given that I tend to be a person of action, the living in that suspended moment for long periods of time can be downright painful for me.  I'm doing it, though.  How long I can do it, and equally important, how long I should do it, are always the big ticket questions, but I've surprised myself with how deeply I've been able to process, and how patient I have been able to remain.  

There is a limit for all of this, of course.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and we cannot exist in eternal limbo in any facet of our lives.  Eventually, entropy fills the proverbial vessel with water and it spills over, causing reactions and change.  Usually, when I feel myself beginning to chafe and buck the confines of being patient, God/Universe/Spirit will send a reminder such as the T.S. Eliot passage quoted above.  It reminds me to continue to breathe through it, to not allow the frustrations to win the day.  Is that easy?  Absolutely not!  Being patient in certain areas of my life is one of my biggest challenges.  I have learned over a lifetime, however, that attempting to force time and a given situation to speed up to match my personal measure always, always brings me much more grief than is necessary to experience.  

So, there is faith in the waiting.  There is change of a positive nature in that suspended space between breaths, between heartbeats.  My heart is gentled in the process, and my capacity to adapt is broadened.  That place of waiting…in my mind's eye, it is painted in images that are difficult to describe, but I hover there.  The essential part of me, my very soul, inhabits that in between space where the beautiful and the painful, the positive and the negative all combine to weave new harmonies for me.  I envision those harmonies, delicate, liquid threads that dance and entwine with the harmonies of others to produce as yet unknown realities.  Fabric to clothe my soul as it returns to my body, just before the next breath is inhaled, before the next heartbeat sounds.  I return changed, always.  Stronger at times; definitely more thoughtful.  Aware that the path will play out without the necessity of me knowing the complete mapping.  My job is to keep taking that next step and doing so with faith that I'm heading in the proper direction.

There are areas of my life that require action and forward momentum.  It is clear, however, that the loosening of the limbo stage hasn't yet manifested.  Perforce, I remain suspended.  I suppose that one of the best courses of action is to simply enjoy the view.  That just occurred to me.  Beauty exists in the act of waiting.  I'll have to turn that one over in my mind for a bit.  It will certainly keep me occupied and distracted for a wee!  So, here is where I stand, for the nonce.  Surveying the view and breathing in the quiet.  Absorbing the peace in the waiting, and greeting Faith as it keeps me company. 

2012 shaped me in innumerable ways.  I tasted joy countless times, and it was balanced by the bitterness of grief, repeatedly.  Confusion reigned supreme more than once, as did uncertainty.  Because of this lack of stability, the only thing I knew to do was just let it be.  Allow the chaos to play its natural course, and believe there was a purpose to it.  I have yet to see clarity in all areas where it is needed, but I recognize the method at hand.  Similar to cleaning house, you first have to create chaos and a jumble of items before you can begin to pull everything back into order.  I imagine that something similar is occurring during this limbo stage.  Order is being gathered and it will fall into place in proper, Divine timing. There have been some abrupt endings that I did not wish for, but they were necessary.  Again, Divine Order at work.  And I have grown as a result, finding strength to deal with those endings, and doing so alone.

Mindful stillness; this is what meditation and yoga encourage.  Being in that breathless moment and feeling the immediacy of the feelings.  Entertaining change in a positive manner, rather than seizing up in denial or fear.  Admitting that my preconceived notions are limiting and that not knowing what the next breath will produce, this is the most receptive space I feel I can inhabit.  Faith in the waiting.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday stages

*I wrote this original post in December 2009.  I find that as we move into the winter holidays, practically everyone that I speak with wrestles with some form of sadness. I thought it would be appropriate to revisit this post, as it helped many people when it was first published.*

From the title of this blog post, you may be expecting a happy story about a Christmas event or pageant, children on stage singing or dancing.  Instead, what you'll be reading about is dealing with grief during the holiday season.

It is a proven fact that around religious holidays, be it Christmas,  Hanukkah, Easter, etc., there is an increase in mortality rates.  The concept of mortality rates can be traced as far back into history as Babylonian times and the rule of King Hammurabi.  In our modern times, this translates into insurance companies creating their mortality charts.  As this became standard practice, there became occasional note in media that death rates increase around significant religious holidays.

Think for a moment, and doubtless, either you or someone you know has lost a beloved family member or friend around a religious holiday.  I fall into this category, having lost the person I consider to be my strongest father figure.  He was my Uncle, my Mom's eldest brother, the patriarch of our clan.  Several years ago, he passed from this life on Christmas Eve morning after a lengthy, brave battle with debilitating illness.  As the Christmas holidays draw near, I find, despite my best intentions, there are definitely moments of melancholy that visit my heart.  Small wonder that if I feel these moments, the rest of the world might be visited by similar feelings in relation to their own personal losses.

There are many schools of thought about reasons that so many souls choose a religious holiday as the time to release from their physical body and pass from this reality.  My own thoughts on this topic are very personal, with one of the thoughts being that our Souls recognize an increased energy around high holy days.  I have always thought that this increased energy might facilitate an individual in making the choice to release from their physical body.  The reasons are myriad, the theories about this are endless, and at the end of the day, they probably don't matter beyond the ability to comfort us in the midst of painful, sad moments.

I have no mysterious remedy for this, other than to give it voice.  We are all very accustomed to slapping on that bright, cheerful social mask to cover our roiling emotions.  It's the holiday season (or whatever other particular moment in life where sad memories surface), be happy, upbeat and positive!!!  Don't be sad about the loss of a loved one, for fear you might drag everyone else down around you!!  Right?!  We all feel obligated to project that facade so that we don't make others uncomfortable or sad right along with us.  It is obvious that this tendency to stuff down our emotions around significant holidays and/or anniversaries of losing a loved one makes dealing with these significant dates that much more challenging.  When, and why did we as a collective society decide that it makes more sense to paste a happy smile on our faces than to honor our true emotions? 

Strong emotions, especially those connected to loss, do make most people uncomfortable.  It hits too closely to home for everyone; if you're mourning the death of a loved one and you present those emotions outwardly, that in turn can trigger buried emotions in others.  It's just a human response, this triggering of fears and resistance, and the need to cover everything up with a neat, tidy, happy facade.  Another truth is that most of us don't deal with significant loss immediately and instantly. 

Most of us are familiar with the five stages of grief.  They are as follows:
  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance
Each person and each situation, each loss, is different regarding the manner in which these stages are processed.  For some, although I would think this is rare, the five stages are processed quickly and dealt with in a short amount of linear time.  For others, the process can take much longer, sometimes years.  Another point to make is that even after we have navigated our way through those stages, they can boomerang on us and creep back in unexpectedly, years later.  Anniversaries of loss are strong triggers What has always frustrated me is the medical mindset that after making our way through those five stages once, then it is all said and done, all bound up in an orderly bundle, case closed and door shut permanently.  I strongly disagree with that mindset.

Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year, altogether, present a time when family and friendship is our focus, so of course sadness will lurk beneath the surface as we have wistful moments, missing those no longer here with us physically.  It is, therefore, not surprising that we'll sometimes feel sucker punched with sad moments.
Dealing with sad anniversaries is never easy.  What works for me might not work for you, but I can share my own process.  When I begin to feel those sad moments creeping in, the most important step that I take is to recognize it for what it is.  Life can be so hectic around the Christmas season that we don't pay enough attention to how we're honestly feeling.  We'll rush from one obligation and social function to the next, pushing the sad, bad, confused or angry emotions down until they finally expand and explode.  So, for my own mental and emotional health, I find it of paramount importance to stop and identify what I'm feeling.  It doesn't always come readily to mind for me either, because of course it's much easier to deny sadness and instead label it as being tired or grumpy or something much easier to ignore.

What I have learned over the years is that embracing the seemingly negative emotions does not equal failure of any type on a personal level.  The true failure, I feel, comes from denying what we feel and never allowing it to have enough of a voice for it to be processed.  So, I take time to look inward.  It isn't always pleasant, or easy, and rarely is it enjoyable.  It is, above all, vitally important.  I feel that in a way, it is a moment of Grace and tribute, when I stop, identify the reason for those melancholy moments and let myself feel what comes from within.  Grace, because I am honoring myself when I allow myself to grieve.  Tribute, because in recognizing these feelings, it gives me a moment to remember the person I loved deeply.  When I do open up to myself, the memories that I embrace are inexorably entwined with all the reasons I loved that person.  So, yes, sadness will be felt.  Many times the result is tears. Eventually, though, happier memories will also flood my mind and in a different manner, I will go through those five stages of grief all over again before coming to that moment of acceptance.

The inescapable truth is that when we lose someone we love, it is a life sentence.  We spend the rest of our lives learning how to cope, manage our lives and live without that person's physical presence.  That's the challenging part.  Just when we think we're doing really well, a holiday or anniversary will approach and cut us off at the knees.  Psychologists developed the five stages of grief to identify what we are feeling and where we are in relation to dealing with personal loss.  From that perspective, the concept is valid, but I honestly feel that it doesn't come to a definitive, full stop, ever.  I am not saying that we exist in sharp, raw grief permanently, nor would I suggest such a thing is healthy or prudent.  What I am trying to point out is that we do experience layers of grief, sadness and loss in sometimes unexpected ways at different times, for various reasons. As a result, we experience a micro-moment, often repeatedly, of those five stages.

In light of this, I think that kindness would be the word of the day. If you can step back from everything else that requires your attention and focus your attention on You, compassion and understanding are what you deserve when you are confronted with those unexpected holiday triggers, layers and stages of sadness.  You deserve kindness, and a few quiet moments to look clearly at what you are feeling.  Give it voice, allow yourself to feel, to remember, to cry; perhaps smile or laugh.  Then, when you feel ready, you will be able to gently tuck the memories back into a corner of your heart and mind that will allow you to move forward with strength, rather than sapping you of energy and enjoyment of the holiday season.  Remind yourself that these feelings will surface again, and recognize that this time, by embracing the moment with Grace and acceptance, you will possibly be able to achieve a more solid balance.

Talking about it with family or friends might be an integral part of this process; there are no hard and fast rules here.  Do what works best and feels right for you.  In talking with others, you may be surprised to find that you've opened the door up for them as well, to do some processing, sharing and healing of their own.

In closing, I wrestled with myself about posting this blog.  It is a highly personal and volatile subject, and perhaps not one many will want to contemplate in the midst of the holiday season. I was feeling sadness as the calendar approaches a personal anniversary date of loss, and for me, writing out the emotions and giving them voice was helpful and healing. I have no idea if what I have written and shared will be of a helpful nature to others, but I am going ahead with posting it.  Perhaps these words and thoughts will resonate with others out there and bring a moment of clarity and peace to their hearts as they realize they are not alone with what they are feeling.  Maybe the simple suggestion that yes, you will go through repeated, myriad experiences of those five stages will be a moment of epiphany for someone out there, allowing them to embrace kindness towards themselves as they process through that most current incarnation. 

If you have stayed with me through to the culmination of this particular post, whether it clicked with you on a personal level or not, you have my appreciation for spending time with me as I navigated through my own five holiday stages.  As a result, my heart is lighter and I have been able to move forward with a gladdened spirit to enjoy my Christmas.  Blessings to you all, this year, this holiday season.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Gratitude Moments, Vol. II, November 2012

Occasionally, you have a difficult day.  Or a difficult week.  Sometimes it can stretch into a month or longer.  During such times, it's challenging to recognize the positives and the blessings that abound.  I'm having a week that has been populated with a couple of less-than-pleasant experiences, and in order to avoid dwelling on the negative energies, I decided to dwell in gratitude.  This is the second in my Gratitude Moments series, and as I sit here to begin writing, I have no idea what thoughts will flow from my hands.  Let's take the journey together....

Gratitude Moments

  1. Finding that perfect gift for that perfect someone when you weren't even looking. (I do this throughout the year and squirrel things away for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas/Hanukka.)
  2. Sharing time with someone special where no words are necessary, and the silence is comfortable.
  3. Breathing in crisp, fall morning air, stung slightly by wood smoke and evergreens.
  4. Learning a new word.  This one never fails to delight me!
  5. Creating with my hands. Whether it's writing, painting, sketching, knitting or crocheting, or any other tactile expression, the ability to create with my hands lifts my heart and gives voice to unspoken emotions.
  6. Front porches with porch swings, rocking chairs and gliders.  
  7. Being far from home and hearing the cadence and liquid lazy vowel sounds of my home region.  That region is the southeastern United States.  East Tennessee, to be specific.
  8. Speaking of East Tennessee, my heart always expands in joy when I am in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, absorbing the incredible energies that exist in my beloved mountains.
  9. Sitting next to a river and listening to the music of rushing water.
  10. The scent of Crayons™, before they meddled with the formula recently.  That scent used to be a favorite.  Maybe someday they'll return to the original formula.  
  11. Feeling your Soul sink into that other person with an instant sense of Homecoming.
  12. Walking in a field during morning hours in the slow, heavy heat of a summer day and hearing the world waking up....winds whispering softly, fat bees droning from flower to flower, birds calling forth the sun.
  13. The complex fabric of a large, noisy, loving family.  Myriad aunts, uncles and cousins who know you to the depth of your Soul, and love you unconditionally.
  14. A brand new journal with fresh, empty white pages, waiting to be filled with words, images and the journeys of an agile mind.
  15. Granny Smith apples.  
  16. Climbing into a freshly made bed and reveling the sensation of clean sheets.
  17. Red plum jelly.  This one is a rarity - I seldom find it in grocery stores.
  18. Tying a length of string into a circle and creating shapes from childhood such as Jacob's Ladder, Cat's Cradle, etc.  
  19. Blackberry cobbler made by my Mom.
  20. Waking up naturally, without an alarm clock!
  21. Puttering in the kitchen with that special someone.
  22. Meditation.
  23. Eye sight, both physical and spiritual, to write these thoughts and to recognize them.
I stopped at twenty-three.  This list took exactly 7 minutes to flow from my hands, with each thought springing effortlessly forward.  I didn't know what each new thought would be, yet each one prompted a smile and a lifting of my heart.  Challenges still exist in my life, and the journey of this current week is still a bit of a confused jumble.  What exercising gratitude moments gives me is the opportunity to step above the difficulties that Life hands out on a regular basis.  

I often quote jewels of wisdom from my maternal Grandmother, my Granny Reagan.  She had a very challenging life, stifled in virtually every way imaginable, yet she continued to harbor wisdom and gentle guidance to all of her grandchildren (27 of us).  I remember, very clearly, one specific comment she shared quite often:
"An obstacle is nothing more than a platform to step UP on, gain a more clear view and understanding of your surroundings, and step OFF of, to propel yourself forward."                - Alpha Celestia Nelson Reagan

So, I'm reminding myself of those words of wisdom and recognizing that the current obstacles I'm experiencing are giving me as yet unseen opportunities.  The first step to that realization is recognizing the difference between obstacle and opportunity.  

For those of you who visit me here regularly, take time for Gratitude Moments and see how instantly the process changes your state of mind.  Blessings constantly abound; we just have to be willing to take time to truly see them.  Namaste'.   

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Whence they came
  I often ponder the process of writing and my mind's eye always conjures a mental image of a symphony of sorts, where music, color, texture and emotion all come together in a tapestry.  There is the scientific fact that our brains produce electrical energy, and that each thought and spoken word is eternal.  Radio waves translate our human thoughts into a different type of electrical current that goes out into the cosmos to linger there forever.

When we create, we produce something tangible, born out of our deepest selves.  It's an effort to express the inexpressible.  I don't know that we ever truly can match the wordless images in our minds, but occasionally all the planets align and we hit that sweet spot.  I have experienced a small handful of those moments, when I sit back after reading something I wrote and feel an immense satisfaction that I communicated those inner feelings properly.

In this lifetime, I believe that I was destined to write.  I learned to read at the very young age of three, with daily visits to my maternal grandparents who lived next door to us.  Local banks used to hand out yearly calendars with small gold painted pencils in a clip at the top of the calendar.  My grandmother found those small pencils the ideal size for my wee hands to manipulate.  I would visit in the morning and she and I would make the walk to the mailbox together, stopping frequently along the lengthy driveway to investigate various wonders.  Upon returning with the daily newspaper for my grandfather to read, I would sit on my Granny's lap and she would go through the alphabet with me on scraps of paper.  We would then take sections of the newspaper after Grandpa had finished reading them, and I would learn words from the articles, then I would write short sentences with those small gold painted pencils in the white spaces between the articles.  Pulling recognized words together, Granny and I would create a short story.  I would then transfer my small self over to my Grandpa's lap to read to him what I had created, laboriously trailing my tiny finger over the scribbled words.  By the time I started kindergarten, I had a firm grasp of the rudiments of reading and writing.

I don't believe I've ever looked back since then.  I remember having an almost overpowering urge to read, read, read....everything I could get my hands on.  Throughout elementary and high school years, I wrote many a report and essay, but it didn't occur to me that this would be something from which to create a career.  For some reason, because writing came so easily to me, I didn't consider it as a career option.  It took me a good stretch of years in many iterations of industries to begin retracing my roots and coming back to those elements of childhood.

These days, I am comfortably at home again, deep in the embrace of words and the process of writing.  I write both for work and for personal satisfaction.  I never find a tedium to it.  There are certainly times when the Muse abandons me and I go for long stretches of time remaining silent.  Those stretches of time feel somewhat odd, as though a part of me is missing, but I have learned to not push the process.  Those stretches of silence are necessary, and allow me to tend to other areas of my life for a while.  I come back to the world of writing refreshed and renewed, and the words flow again with color and texture and energy.

This recent renewal cycle, air was my Muse.  The flow of it, how it can whip and tear at the earth, how it can paint patterns upon water, sand, rock and metal.  It can carve expression lines into every object on the planet, given enough time.  This is what came out of my fingertips....

I sat, isolated
looking inwardly
my focus on the cadence of my breath
and the wind teased
prompting me to lift my eyes
and regard the dance before me
my mind stepped up
into the sky
taking bites of the air
plucking harmonies and weaving them
into gossamer, silver-shot plumes
...and leaving them dancing there
whence they came
punctuating the autumn day
with a curious level 
of strength
my own
like unto the wind
until applied with sureness
carving indelible expressions
emotions from depths
that shape who I am
emotional currents
...revealing in my eyes...wisdom
from a well of experiences
....breath, life, peace...dreams...
swirling now
eddying across my soul
presenting my true Self
....whence it came?
rich and gossamer
silver-shot plumes
...dancing in the air

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Three Years

Today, September 25, 2012 is the three year anniversary for Healing Morning blog! I almost overlooked it, as today was a typically busy day.  I happened to scroll down and see the widget that tracks my blog-i-versary and sure enough, today was the big day!

Three years seems such a short time.  In some ways, I've lived many lifetimes in that short span.  I've met incredibly gifted blog writers and formed beautiful friendships.  The blogging world is vast, and I'm thrilled when I look at my blog stats and see that I have a truly global readership.  That phenomenon never ceases to  fascinate and amaze me, that people the world round follow my writing and look forward to my articles.

Writers write, just as musicians create music, artists create art, athletes achieve physical feats.  Each of us seek to express ourselves in our unique manner.  Secretly, we hope others will find our work pleasing and worthy of attention, yet many of us tend to squirm and wrestle with any large amount of recognition.

It's a curious thing, embracing a level of transparency with my writing.  I've said it over and over in these past three years, that when I write something that really exposes my true self, when I write something that pushes the envelope on a spiritual level and uncovers sides of me that up until that point had remained safely hidden and protected....those are the articles that always receive the strongest and most positive responses.  In becoming a blogger, I've learned to trust my gut instincts and bravely rip away layers of protection, walls that used to be high and thick.  I have grown in friendship and in self-knowledge and I expect that both of these will continue to flourish.

I find a sense of personal joy with my writing here.  Healing Morning is where I come to express random thoughts and concepts that don't fit into my business writing.  It is here that I give free rein to whimsy, to laughter, to tears, to strength, to weakness and every emotion that exists.  You who visit and take time to read my thoughts, and then go that extra step to leave wonderful comments - I wish I could find words to express how much I appreciate each of you.  You add to the experience of my writing, adding your unique strokes of color and brightness to the canvas that I paint with my words.

To each of you:

"I honor the place within you where the entire Universe resides; I honor the place within you of love, of light, of truth, of peace; I honor the place within you, where, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us."
Thank you for visiting.  I look forward to celebrating many more years of writing, blogging and fellowship.

- Dawn

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Grasshopper Thoughts, Vol. VI September 2012

It's been ages since I last grasshoppered, so it's definitely time to embrace the concept again!  Grasshoppering is cathartic, after all, so here I go....

  • The great debate of ketchup vs mustard on French fries exists in my world.  Mustard, you say?  Yes, I do!  Ketchup is usually a bit too sugary for my taste.  So I usually have a puddle of each on my plate when I indulge in French fries. There is also the odd occasion where I have either sour cream or mayonnaise with French fries, but that's a whole other debate.
  • Whomever invented the little plastic prison to capture shavings on pencil sharpeners, you're my official Hero. And whomever finally incorporated that concept into sharpeners for cosmetic eye and lip liner pencils, Bravo!  I applaud your brilliance.  
  • I was looking at river rocks the other day.  What is it about their smoothly tumbled, pleasing to the touch surface that makes me so happy?  Perhaps it's just that.  They're simple and beautiful.  Dreamy in variations of colors, usually.  I have a silver bowl full on my desk that I've collected over a lifetime.  The newest one is a pale, gentle peachy shade and is blobby in shape.  It fits beautifully into the palm of my hand.
  • I have a weakness for dimples.  There, I said it.  If you're a man with dimples, and you smile at me, I'm going to get a wee bit giddy.  There's not a whit of logic to it.  Dimples just flutter me, and with one person in particular, they tend to short circuit my brain for a microsecond or two. This is not a bad thing, btw. :)
  • Vinegar is awesome!  Apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, plain old white kitchen vinegar....I love them all.  Wonderful for toxin-free cleaning, but even more so for cooking.  The more tart, sour, tangy, the better, in my opinion.  As I mentioned with ketchup, I'm not a big fan of things overly sweet.  
  • And vinegar gives us pickles!  So, obviously, it follows that I'm a pickle person.  Sour, tart, crunchy, savory.  Just the scent of pickling liquid makes my mouth water.  Being southern, I have to give a special nod to that delightful treat of pickled okra.  If you haven't tried it, don't knock it!  I promise you, it's delicious!!!  :)
  • Snort-larfing.  You know you do it occasionally!  I did it recently over a random comment at my family reunion.  It wasn't a quiet one, either.  No, it was a full fledged, less-than-feminine full out snort-larf.  Sometimes life is just that funny.
  • We're moving into the fall months here in East Tennessee, and cooler mornings, milder temps during the day, lower humidity and promise of fall color in the Smoky Mountains are upon us.  I love this time of year!
Ahhh....much better.  Now my noggin is a bit more clear of clutter.  If only I could incorporate this into housecleaning!  Alas, it will never happen.  Grasshoppering is relegated to my mental faculties.  The writing process of grasshoppering is fun, though.  The recent summer months have been challenging for many of us, myself included, so there is merit in the occasional post that addresses a moment of whimsy.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quiet Tribute

*I wrote this article in 2012, and feel that it still speaks my heart and my perspective on the day this tragedy struck my country.  It is my way of paying tribute and remembering those who fell that day.  - S. Dawn Sievers*

I was taking a shower that morning, and heard the phone ringing.  I didn't think much of it, as I had plans to meet a girlfriend for lunch later that day.  I finished showering, decided to dry my hair before listening to the answering machine message.  But the phone rang again, and yet again, encouraging me to stop everything and answer the call. It was my girlfriend telling me the USA had been attacked, that a plane had hit one of the Towers of the World Trade Center and another one had gone down in a field somewhere in Pennsylvania, and equally nightmarish - a living nightmare - was the news that our Pentagon had also suffered an attack....all of this happening within a very short span of time on the clock of that September morning.

This was difficult to even picture or fathom, because this type of thing just doesn't happen to America.  Or, it didn't.  Up until that day, our country had lived in a unique bubble, safe and never assailed by outside forces in this modern age.  The bubble was broken that day.

I turned the TV on and watched, horrified.  The second plane hit the second of the World Trade Center Towers before my eyes and the eyes of the whole world.  Comprehension and terrible understanding sank in.  As I left my house to drive over to my girlfriend's house, I noticed the absolute hush over the day.  Some of this hush was due to all airplanes except for military being grounded, but it was more than that.

There was a hush in nature.  

No birds were singing.  I remember that very clearly, and I stood outside listening for a good 15 minutes, looking around me, but the sounds of nature were silent.  My home at the time was surrounded by heavy tracts of woods, so there were always the sounds of birds chirping.  But not that day.  It was silent outside.  There was no breeze.  Just a still hush over the world that was palpable.  I will never forget how it felt, as though the world was holding its breath for the people who perished that day.

I spent the day getting in touch with everyone I love the most, making sure they were safe.  There was an intrinsic need to connect with them, and I learned I was not alone in that need.  Phone lines and computer servers were overloaded with extremely high levels of activity that day.  I grieved at what a great loss we had incurred and struggled to make sense of it.  There is no sense to be garnered, obviously.  The only positive thing I can take from it is that we survived it.  Our country survived, but thousands of innocent people died.  This many years later, the memories are still vivid and fresh, and for many....still raw.

I've read other people's thoughts of where they were that day. I was in Knoxville, Tennessee, living my very ordinary life, safe and far from harm's way.  That prompted me to share my memories and what still stands out so strongly in my memory was how quiet the day became.  For those who believe this planet is inanimate, without reaction to tragic events, I would hold that memory out as an example of the exact opposite.

I felt the earth react and give quiet tribute to the ones who left us.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

And the dance continues....

"You need to blog about this, Dawn."
A good amount of inspiration for my blog posts here at Healing Morning come from conversations with friends.  The conversation from this week was a delicate one, dealing with the way that we react within the parameters of a personal relationship.  My comment to my girlfriend was that the majority of my life, I've been fairly calm, even-natured, and on an even keel.  This applied to me in past relationships, which is why the current situation I'm in regularly throws me for a loop!  I find myself....I said this in my last blog post....greeting myself in ways that I would never have predicted.  And in the process of figuring this out, conversations take place, and friends encourage me to write about the topic.  So, here I am, discussing this greeting of myself.

What does that mean....greeting myself?  It means discovering reactions and behaviors that literally stun me, because they're so dramatically opposite to what I have come to know of myself.  Relationships are crafty things with how they hold up a very clear mirror to show us who we are at our core.  And certain relationships, the really good ones...the ones that push us to grow, those are the ones that hold up the biggest, clearest mirrors.  Those are the ones that uncover heretofore hidden sides of us that really needed to be revealed.

What have I learned about myself most recently?  Well, one thing that wasn't new is still there.  I have a stubborn side that kicks in strongly.  But that's not something that I'm learning from.  Instead, the surprising areas are the ones that are Ego driven....and that are seated in Fear.  I have watched myself in the last several months of being around this new person.  So much of the experiences are wonderful.  Fun, exciting, new, touching.  But along with all of that newness and excitement comes Fear.  We can't escape it.  It's part and parcel of allowing that new person to get close to us on that elemental level.  THAT part is not fun.  Not to me.  It means I have to allow myself, and even force myself to be vulnerable.

It also means I have to force myself to be strong.  I'm a Fixer.  I want the whole wide world to be happy and content.  And I will sacrifice my own well-being to make sure others are happy first.  That's not healthy, as I'm sure any of you reading this are thinking.  I agree with you.  It's a very big fault that I've been working on most of my life.  That's where forcing myself to be strong comes in.  That's where I have to stand up for myself and establish boundaries.  That's where I have to honor myself and insist on mutual respect.  Sounds easy, yes?  Well, it's seriously challenging on any given day for me!  Downright painful at times, I admit it. Boundaries and establishing them in a fair manner within a relationship is something I am still learning.

So, as I grow in response to this new person in my orbit, I am discovering some traits that have lain dormant for most of my life. And they are rarely attractive traits. My stubborn side usually brings them kicking to life and then things come out of my mouth that catch me off guard.  Did I really just say that?!  Have I always felt that way?!  Where the heck did that come from?!  I learned many years ago that when I react with instant anger or defensiveness, that's a spot that needs some digging into.  Because the reflexive anger and defensiveness are hiding a long covered wound.

I tend to be more inwardly focused than some.  From a very early age, I noticed negative cycles that existed within my family dynamic.  Those cycles caused a great deal of pain to everyone, and I was determined to find a way to break those cycles.  I began to research and investigate and study.  I found out why we repeat patterns of an emotional content.  I found out why we attract the same types of people over and over.  And I learned my own patterns.  You'd think this much research and educating of self would produce a woman who has it all together, yes?  Nope.  I'm as human as the rest of the world and I'm not ashamed to say I've spent many a year bumbling my way through relationships.  I also admit that I found a level of security and safety in studying the clinical aspect of emotions.  That gave me distance and I didn't have to engage on those levels as much.  But that sneaky organ, my heart, was always there and I wasn't immune to the trials and tribulations of love.

I won't bore you all with my personal relationship history.  My point here, today, is to focus on the fact that when we react fear, anger, defensiveness or any other negative emotion, that is hiding something crucial to our emotional growth.  We can ignore it and continue to stay rooted in those old patterns, but I've never been a proponent of hiding from the obvious once it jumps up and bites me on the nose.  Once something becomes clear to me on a personal level that oh, wow, THAT was an extreme reaction, Dawn, then it's time to do some hard work.  I start sifting through the layers until I reach what I feel is the core of that specific fear.  It's not pleasant sometimes, but the more I do it, the more I learn about myself, and the easier it is for me to process through the emotions and the realizations.  When I'm given a safe environment and an understanding person to bounce these realizations off of, I am able to jettison the behaviors that are fear laden and unnecessary.  It is surprisingly simple, once you take that deep breath and plunge inward.  It's sometimes messy, because those hidden, old wounds can be nasty to confront, but as with anything, the first step is the most scary.  With repetition, it becomes easier and more efficient.

I'm very fortunate with this new person in that there is a support, a lack of judgment, and a level of curiosity to listen when I work my way through the why's of my sometimes surprising reactions.  He might not always agree, or see things the way that I do, but he listens and respects the conclusions I come to.  Often, he offers insights that flip a new light bulb of clarity on over my fair head.  That's rare and I am quite aware that I'm lucky to meet this person.  Something that is somewhat humorous is when I think I've behaved in a very over the top, borderline unacceptable manner, I am regularly told that no, that moment hadn't really made that much of a blip on his radar.  Well, huh.  That's when I have to laugh at how overly seriously I tend to take myself!  It's new stuff to me, on an emotional level in relationship with this other person, so it feels large and overwhelming.  Sometimes it IS large, but a great deal of the time, it really isn't.  I'm learning that as well, that it's not all huge, scary and insurmountable.  Much of it is small and easily dispatched, but it does require effort and looking oneself in the eye with absolute honesty.

So, it's a journey, this process of growing in respect to allowing someone close.  Close to the heart.  Close enough to matter.  Close enough to hurt.  All of those have happened.  I expect more of the same will happen over time, as it's the ones who matter the most who can hurt us the most.  Perhaps not intentionally, but that's the power we place in that other person's hands when we open up our heart.  The key part to remember is that they're allowing us the same power in return.  I think we forget that important part; I know I do.  I have another girlfriend who constantly reminds me that I'm not the only one who has uncertainties, doubts and insecurities.  Men are chock full of the same whirling emotions as women; they just tend to store them away in a different manner than we do.

I'm learning that I've had some hidden traits that aren't pretty.  Some of them have truly surprised me.  I was rigid and inflexible in some areas that were downright unrealistic, but they hadn't ever been triggered before.  I had to live the experiences first, before I knew they existed in my psyche. Then I could address them and decide whether they served a good purpose.  Usually, they didn't.  Another thing that I've been fortunate in has been that this person is giving me not only what I call that Soft Place to Fall when things are sad, bad or scary, but this person is giving me an equal amount of respect and allowing me to express anger and frustration, doubts and other negative emotions.  That's a new experience for me.  Being allowed to express genuine, valid negative emotions freely has been a very new, slightly uncomfortable thing, but ultimately, it has been freeing.  I'm being given freedom to express anger!  I'm being given space to be irritated and irritable.  And I'm still accepted and appreciated at the end of the day.  Again....huh.  What a concept.  What an experience, this process of being in a truly adult exchange where respect is given and received.

Another big truth is that in the process of addressing these once dormant traits that pop up, I don't always express myself in the best way, the first time.  The first time of giving it voice, I almost always say it in a way, that to my ears, is too forward, too harsh or demanding.  I hate that!!  It happens because those wounds are created in our childhood, and when they get dredged back up, we tend to emote and give them voice from that same emotional age where they were inflicted.  I.e, we come across as though we're throwing a tantrum of sorts.  But I learn from it, and I consciously shift my emotional awareness into adult mentality. As I learn, I shear off the rough edges of this new discovery and I shape what remains into a mature strength and a Life Skill.  A new tool that does serve a good purpose.

In time, I hope that I'll find a way to give these new discoveries a softer presentation, but for now, they don't always come out that way.  In some ways, I'm like a newborn foal finding her feet, wobbling about and staggering before my knees lock and I stand straight.  And I'm learning that even when I do present this new knowledge with more volume than necessary, the sky doesn't fall.  I also learn more about myself and that other person as a result.  I've said it over and over - the way we choose to react to a given set of circumstances is how we define ourselves to the world.

The Persian poet-philosopher, Rumi, constantly captures my heart and imagination with his thoughts, written hundreds of years past.  This quote applies to today's post:

Don't look for me in a human shape,
I am inside your looking.
I'm finding that Universal Truth that this new person is mirroring the Me that I've worked so hard to become.  Things are far from perfect with this new experience, mind you.  There are challenges all over the place, and we're both doing that awkward dance that people do as they learn one another. Plus, what's life without a little drama?  I would rather live out loud in bright splashes of color than drudge along, cloaked in muffling shades of gray.

We're learning a new language, in effect.
 The way we each express ourselves, the way we each react emotionally, our senses of humor, our intellect....all of that creates a language unique to us that the other has to learn.  And as we learn that other person in all their depth and glory, we get triggered in surprising emotional ways.  We react in ways that shock us and that other person.  If we're lucky, that other person finds our own depths and glory to be worth the stumbles, fumbles and outright flubs, and they stick around to see what will happen next.  They embrace us for who we are and they ask the same of us.  And the dance continues.....