Is this my life?

What I know beyond a doubt is the surest way to add more pain to your life is to assume you know it all and to not question the reality of your assumptions. Open, honest and clear communication is the secret ingredient in all effective, loving relationships.

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Remember when I promised to reveal why Thursday’s are often very hard for me?

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with my 84 year old mother over the past months.  It comes as a welcome opportunity to really explore the past, to ask questions about why certain things happened the way they did and to share funny quips and stories. These days, even when I may not feel like going over there to sit and talk for three or four hours, I go any way, because I know for a fact, that the days are running out.  I have to take my opportunities where they come.

Once upon a time, I shared everything with my Mom.  We were the closest of any of the relatives in my immediate family…and then somehow things turned upside down.   I still struggle to figure out what changed so much that I ended up estranged from her for over three years.  I’m grateful the lines of communications have been opened again for many years, yet sad that some things are never going to change and are outside of my control.

A while ago on a Thursday, we had a tough few hours talking about events of the past.  I was floored when out of nowhere she dredged up one of her perceptions of an event I have absolutely NO recollection of.  (I’m not even sure it really happened.)  The saddest part of all is that this is something she’s held over me for more than thirty years, (I was a senior in high school according to her)….yet she never bothered to talk to me about it.  I’ve spent countless hours and thousands of gallons of tears trying to understand what I ever did to deserve the treatment I’ve received.  Now it comes out and it turns out to be something that I cannot even remember and even if I did; this is NOT something you lay at the feet of your daughter….ever.

I wish I could be more forthcoming with the details of what was actually said, but at this point I cannot.  What I can share, however, is how important it is to never EVER to make assumptions. We lost thirty or more years of a good relationship because she made something up in her mind and then told herself it was true. She never once spoke to me about it. Reflecting back, I see this is a pattern of many years with her.

This morning I’m still struggling trying to make sense of this life I’ve lived.  Friends tell me I should write a novel (or two or three) based on my life experiences…if I could make sense of most of it, I might.

What I know beyond a doubt is the surest way to add more pain to your life is to assume you know it all and to not question the reality of your assumptions.  Open, honest and clear communication is the secret ingredient in all effective, loving relationships.

Despite the pain I might have today as a result of knowing what I now do, I am still grateful for these times with my mother.  I am grateful there is still time to heal the past.  I am grateful God has given me the tools I need to process this silly life and grateful I’m able to be open enough to share my feelings.

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Prayer for today:

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;

So I will know my people’s plight.

Free me to pray for others;

For you are present in every person.

Help me take responsibility for my own life;

So that I can be free at last.

Grant me courage to serve others;

For in service there is true life.

Give me honesty and patience;

So that the Spirit will be alive among us.

Let the Spirit flourish and grow;

So that we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died for justice;

For they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate us;

So we can change the world.

Amen.

-César E. Chávez

Cleanse Day 3, Update

I am very encouraged by yesterday’s efforts. I knew it would be hard having to work in the morning and then cook dinner for a huge crowd. As I reported in yesterday’s update, I did experience the usual, “Why am I doing this? …

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Cocktail consumer Alexis would fall asleep shortly before 9:00 PM; sleep until 11:00 PM; wake up to go upstairs to bed; then sleep until 2:30 or 3:00 AM. From there it would be a failed battle to stay off the Internet until around 5:30 AM, when sleep would be intermittent at best. The whole shebang would end at 7:00 AM when it was time to rise to meet the day.

This morning I actually slept until almost 8:00 AM, which is highly unusual for me. I can only attribute it to the fact that I am continuing to execute my cleanse plan. I was awakened again about four or five times, needing to pop into the ladies room, but each time, I was able to fall right back to sleep with very little effort. When my hubs came to awaken me this morning, I was in total shock by what time it was.

I am very encouraged by yesterday’s efforts. I knew it would be hard having to work in the morning and then cook dinner for a huge crowd. As I reported in yesterday’s update, I did experience the usual, “Why am I doing this? Why can’t I just go home and have one or two drinks to relax? I don’t have to tell anyone.” Of course, the other side of my brain knew better.

Shortly before we started breaking down the kitchen to clean, I forced myself to eat dinner. It wasn’t easy because I was hot and defiant Alexis didn’t want to! However, I knew that if I didn’t, the chances of my going home hungry and pouring myself a cocktail stood at about 98%. I thought it through all the way to how I would feel waking up this morning knowing I couldn’t follow this plan for even two straight days. (Argh! To be honest it pissed me off. It angers me that I’ve gotten into this habit so much that it’s a chore to break.)

Two pieces of fish, a pile of rice pilaf and some Italian green beans later, I was satisfied. On the way home I thought about the things I wanted to do that would keep my mind, body and soul engaged in non-alcoholic activities. Tops on the list was taking my new dog, Sam, on a long walk and then settling in to read some new blogs.  Check. Check. I did both.

As a treat, I pulled out some organic, all natural yogurt and I giggled my head off when my husband tasted it and declared mightily, “OH MY GAWD, that tastes like ASS! It’s ASS with a side of sour fruit!” He’s a sweets person. I am not. I thought it was great! It’s a brand called, “siggi’s”. I highly recommend it! (siggisdairy.com)

Today on my way home from visiting my parents, I will stop at the health food store and pick up some more yogurt and some more super cool bath stuff. Those who know me already know that Thursday visits with my parents can spell disaster in the emotional department, so believe me, I must have my armor ready.

I will need extra prayers for strength for the time just prior to and right when I get home today. Although I have a plan, a hard visit with “The Units” (my sister and I nicknamed our parents this eons ago) can throw a wrench into almost anything.

I took my Day 3 selfie this morning and thought I looked better yesterday. Of course, I hate nearly every photo taken of me, so there’s that. First thing this morning when I looked in the mirror I could see a trace of “Less Puffy Me” and I smiled.

Day 3 Summary: I’m happy. I’m Blessed. I feel good, but I’ve still got one eye open for the demon temptation who wants to take me down.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1: 2-3

Tonight’s menu will be Mahi-Mahi, sauteed apsaragus and left over coconut rice mixed with whatever I decide to mix it with. My thoughtful husband went out this morning and rented the latest “Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie, so we’ll eat dinner and then curl up and watch it together.

Prayers up. Over and Out until tomorrow. ❤

When Dreams Speak.

For so long I’ve hidden away from my writing thinking that because I was going through a life change so horrible, I couldn’t be of any inspiration to anyone. I held myself to a silly standard that said that if I couldn’t be a bright shining star, I had nothing to offer.

Where dreams come from

One night I had an experience that jolted me upright in bed.  I have always had incredible dreams, but this wasn’t so much a dream, as it was just a quick experience that came from seemingly nowhere.  Hard to explain and even harder to say out loud because it was so different from anything I’ve ever experienced in dreamland.  For a split second, I was with Jesus on the cross and was looking at his feet, which had become mine, and poof, the first nail was driven in.  The experience was so horrific, I jolted upright in bed and scared the living daylights out of Charlie.  I didn’t say what had happened, but I laid there for a long time trying to make sense of it.

The symbols in our dreams are often conjured up by the subconscious to be so powerful that we don’t forget them in the daylight because there is some lesson there to be contemplated and understood.

I think for me, this is a reminder that nothing of any value or goodness in this life ever comes without sacrifice, hardship and just plain hard work and of course, that one must persevere at all cost.

For so long I’ve hidden away from my writing thinking that because I was going through a life change so horrible, I couldn’t be of any inspiration to anyone.  I held myself to a silly standard that said that if I couldn’t be a bright shining star, I had nothing to offer.  I let my brain take over and broke my cardinal rule which says that the heart should always lead, no matter what.  The brain will always point out failures and mistakes, misjudgments, misgivings, lamentations…all the stuff the that squelches the spirit.  Conversely the heart, which lives in a state of total honesty and love, in constant union with God, will keep that tiny flame of hope alive beyond all things of this world.

Sometimes the most important life teachings come in the form of periods of darkness, where one has to dig deep to come out the other side, where one has to cultivate courage, in order to persevere even in the face of possible failure.

A dear friend of mine has been here all along repeating to me what I’ve always told others…”ask yourself what lesson the Universe is trying to teach you through all this pain.”

So I asked.

This is what the angels had to say:

“Underneath the shield of physicality, is a place where the deepest love resides.  It cannot be extinguished for this is the spark that connects all to the Divine. Remove the illusions of self-doubt and fear. These are restrictions you’ve placed on yourself, dear child. The time is now to step boldly forth. Bless the darkness, thank it for its lessons, and know that all is well.   Point your heart in the direction of the all-encompassing love of the Father, strengthen your connection to the Divine. Today, life begins anew.”

And yes. They are correct and I have heeded their advice. ❤

hearts

 

 

 

Cleanse Day 2, Update

The magic number is six. Six times last night my sleep was interrupted because I had to get up to use the rest room. You would think I would be upset about this. Instead, it’s the exact opposite. It makes me happy.

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The magic number is six. Six times last night my sleep was interrupted because I had to get up to use the rest room. You would think I would be upset about this. Instead, it’s the exact opposite. It makes me happy.

This is of course, the by-product of the first day of the two-week cleanse. It means to me that my liver is working on cleansing the rest of the body and it’s a nice sign that things are on the right track.

Even though my sleep was interrupted quite a bit, this morning I am feeling more rested than yesterday morning. Better than this, I feel more determined than ever to carry on. I know it’s just the second day, but I choose to take the good feelings as they come. BTW,  I took my “Day 2 selfie” and I can all ready see a very slight difference. (I’ll post those in two weeks.) Joy, Joy, Joy!

Yesterday I planned what to make for dinner well before I got home. I planned what I would do to reward myself for not having a cocktail and for eating a sensible dinner. On the way home from work we stopped at an organic market and I bought myself some bath salts. Last night when dinner was finished, I excused myself to go and take a well-deserved, relaxing, glorious soak. I have always been a bath girl, so treating myself to something special was just the little treat I needed. Once I had my PJ’s on, the feeling that I was missing out on a glass of wine just wasn’t there.

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I told Charlie this morning that I wished I’d bought more than one variety of bath salts, so I would have them tonight when I get home. Tonight will be one of the hardest nights to get through.

Why?

On Wednesday nights, my husband and I work together to produce a Fellowship meal for about 100-150 people who are members of the church where I work part-time. Every week we plan the menu, shop for the food, prepare the meal and drinks, help to serve it and help to clear it away when it’s over. It is an arduous task but I love it, which is why we do it.

Each week I get to work shortly after nine am and do my regular work. (I do the finances of the church.) At 1:15, I change clothes and head into the kitchen where we have until 5:00 to prepare the meal and set up for dinner service. We start serving at promptly 5:15. Like I said, it is NOT an easy job by any means. The pay-off for me is seeing people enjoy something I’ve made. It’s in knowing I worked very hard in the service of others and knowing I’ve given it all of me…and I do. My husband and I joke that, “It is ALWAYS Wednesday!” in our lives. Some weeks it seems to be so.

At some point every single Wednesday between the hours of 5:00 and 6:30 my brain starts to tell me I’ve earned the right to go home, put my feet up and have a few cocktails and usually, this is exactly what I do. (The last thing in the world I want to do is go home and eat dinner after I’ve just spent hours in the kitchen.)

Tonight will be a challenge and I admit to feeling a wee tinge of anxiety. The plan, however, is to force myself to eat dinner before leaving church so I will be full and will not want anything else. Writing this blog helps me to stay accountable too, because I hate to fail and I hate to lie. I don’t want to have to come back here and report that I cheated. I refuse!

Back to last night: For dinner this week, we decided to try to consume mostly fish and fresh vegetables. Last night’s fare was salmon that we picked up on the way home, coconut rice, mango salsa and freshly steamed broccoli.

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My plate last night.

 

I was shocked that I enjoyed the rice because I am not a fan of coconut, but it was lovely. (Recipe is below).

I will check back tomorrow to report on how I did this evening. Pray for me.

 

 

 


Coconut Rice

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This was Charlie’s plate last night. Mine is above. I’m not that fancy.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Jasmine Rice

1 1/2 cups Coconut Water

1 cup unsweetened Coconut Milk

1/2 Teaspoon Salt (I used a little more)

3/4 Teaspoon White pepper

Directions:

Rinse and drain the rice in cold water. Place in a saucepan with the coconut water, coconut milk, and salt & pepper. Place the pot over high heat and, bring the liquid to a boil. Stir and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover the pot tightly with the lid. Continue cooking for 15 minutes.

Ideas:

When I make this again, I will tweak it and add herbs and zest depending on what I am making. Last night I was wishing I’d put some lime zest in it, but it was still really light and delicious!

 

 

 

Edification. Wait. What?

Edification: Intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement; enlightenment.

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Edification:  Intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement; enlightenment.

Sometimes for me, life seems to be a never-ending cycle of making peace within myself over things beyond my control.  It’s the same for all of us, really.  Who among us doesn’t experience frustration in one form or another?  It’s a natural feeling that rises up when something doesn’t click correctly within our hearts.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that the source of our frustration is wrong; it simply means that it isn’t aligning with our own personal truth.

Lately I find myself back in the ebb and flow of life. For a couple of weeks I’m flowing gracefully and then poof, I’m back in the proverbial ebb scratching my head.  For the most part I’m able to make the choices I need to in order to continue on with my joy, but there are times when I’m sailing along on shear will power.  I understand that in AA they call this “white-nuckling” and it’s not considered to be a good thing.  What it means is that you may not be drinking, (which is always a good thing for an alcoholic), but it’s dangerous because not drinking without treating the actual disease typically means a relapse is on the way.

In regular life the same applies.

If there is a situation causing us frustration and we “whitenuckle it” – it really means we aren’t doing much to correct the negative feelings we’re carrying within.  For instance, lately I find myself biting my tongue a lot. I liken this habit to white knuckling.  Biting the tongue tends to be a good thing most of the time, but it does little to eradicate the feelings that are living beneath the surface.

When I finally realize I’m “white knuckling” my way through my days, I know it’s time to find the proper balance again.  I have to explore the root cause of my discomfort and do something spiritually uplifting to fix it.  I may not always be able to do something to fix situations over which I have no control, but I can certainly find a place within my heart to work on other things that will bring forth the same result.

What are some of the things you are “white-knuckling” lately?  What works for you to find your spiritual balance again?

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Here is a page out of one of my all-time-used-to-be favorite books, “Angel Wisdom”. It speaks to exactly what I’m talking about here.

“EDIFYING

 An Angelic Reminder:  An edifying moment has an everlasting angelic place in your mind.

Edification is one of those noble concepts from the angels that seems to have little importance in society today.  When something is edifying, it encourages moral improvement and has an uplifting influence on our minds.  Unfortunately, edification today has been increasingly overlooked in favor of quick and easy escapes from the boredom and emptiness of un-edified lives.  How often do you feel edified by reading a newspaper or watching TV?  Where disaster, triviality, and materialism abound, few opportunities exist to be edified.  So it’s important to create uplifting and enlightening experiences for ourselves.  Reading good, thought-provoking books, listening to good music, watching an inspiring movie, discussing spiritual ideas with a friend, meditating, creating things of beauty, helping others to seek out the truly edifying aspects of life–these are just a few of the ways in which we can improve our connection to the angels, who are always seeking to provide us with natural and spiritual inspiration.

How does your environment contribute to or detract from edification?  How can you change or improve your environment–the people you choose to associate with, the activities you engage in, the priorities you have or haven’t set?  Ask the angels to help you spend at least one hour a day edifying your life.

An Angelic Reflection:  I am able to make behavior choices that are comfortable and positive for me and beneficial to the world.”

(©Angel Wisdom:  Terry Lynn Taylor & Mary Beth Crain.  1994 Harper-Collins)

Narrow Road Serenity

There was a time in my life when it feels like I was much more spiritual. My favorite little self motivator was a simple phrase, “Take the narrow road”. In any situation I faced, I tried to do the opposite of what most people would do.

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There was a time in my life when it feels like I was much more spiritual.  My favorite little self motivator was a simple phrase, “Take the narrow road”.  In any situation I faced, I tried to do the opposite of what most people would do.  That meant if I was in a store and the clerk was making mistake after mistake and everyone else was upset, I’d come through and be kind and offer some form of compliment in order to help the clerk adjust her mood towards the positive. It meant that if I knew a friend was lying to me; instead of calling attention to that fact, I’d remain silent and offer some form of kindness as my response.  When the Catholic church decided to change the rules about receiving communion to standing instead of kneeling, I continued to kneel.

All of these things were my little love notes to God in thanksgiving for the graces and Blessings I’d received in my life and for the ones yet to come.  I look back on those times now and remember the enormous sense of serenity I carried with me.  No one ever told me I had to do these things; I chose to do them. Serenity was the natural by-product of my acting in accordance to my personal truth. I like being kind to people. It makes me happy.

I also remember it being a time I was very diligent about my prayers and strict about simple things like when to turn the television off and go to bed.  (I’m one of those people that if the TV is on, I’ll fight sleeping rather than turn it off, because I want to see what comes next.)  It’s so stupid really, so back in the day, I used to ask myself if what I was watching was going to contribute to my life in any way, shape or form.  If the answer was no, and it always was, I’d turn the blasted box off.

I think in retrospect it all goes back to feeding the spirit.  My life was simple then because I made the choice to keep it uncluttered.

It may not be AS simple right now with all that I have going on, but I still try to remember to take the narrow road. I continue to try to do the things that have always proven to bring me peace.

What are some of the things YOU do to feed your spirit?  If you can’t think of any off the top of your head perhaps it’s time to reassess.  These days, we aren’t going to find much from an outside source that will automatically do this for us.  It’s a choice.

“For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”  Matthew 7:14

 

Note:  Interestingly, today happens to be the official first day of my two-week cleanse. (Certain to feed this girl’s spirit as well as her body.)I started the morning with a shake, made another one for lunch and dinner tonight will be salmon, coconut rice, mango salsa and steamed broccoli. No more cocktails for two weeks. I won’t lie. That part isn’t at the top of my list of easy things to give up. Can I do it? We shall see!

I am just about to hit the kitchen to start cooking. Today I feel strong and determined and happy about this decision.

(I also took my first-day photo over again, but I won’t post them until the end of the two weeks.)

Warrior Souls

Often I meet with people who are experiencing an absolute blockage of the spirit. They are covered up in a closed blanket of disbelief and negativity with regard to self. This is because in life, we forget to put on our suits of armor to protect ourselves from the potentially damaging words and deeds of others.

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“No one can put a leash on my spirit and I’ll follow it exactly and precisely where it wants me to go, thank you!” ~Bobbe Ann Crouch circa 2009

Often I meet with people who are experiencing an absolute blockage of the spirit. They are covered up in a closed blanket of disbelief and negativity with regard to self. This is because in life, we forget to put on our suits of armor to protect ourselves from the potentially damaging words and deeds of others. We give power to what other people think and do and say about us, even at the very high cost of our precious self worth and self esteem. Why is this?

My feeling has always been that people are basically good at the core. We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, which is why it’s important to think before speaking to others, to assess whether our words are important or just wasted air. It’s of high importance to recognize that no one has the right or ability to squash the spirit, but it still happens, doesn’t it?

Preventing this makes connecting to one’s basic goodness, a very high priority. Words cannot penetrate the soul of a person who is connected to the basic goodness of the spirit. This is why so often, I require people to literally start to count their Blessings. A person focused on the good side of life cannot be easily harmed by the word daggers someone else may be throwing.

Remember this phrase: “Words have Weight”. Watch what you say to others so that you are not unwittingly covering someone else’s goodness. Likewise, put on your suit of armor and remember that you have the ability to deflect negativity at every turn.

Connect to the goodness inside you and refuse to let it go.

PS: When I got home yesterday, this was waiting for me!

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