From the Sanctuary

Solo road trip along the lake, Cleveland bound. This journey begins with my being on the receiving end of a random act of kindness when I reached the toll taker arm outstretched, money in hand. She told me to keep my change and proceed on through because someone had “taken care of me.” I continued on in joy; vintage CD’s in tow. These include Queen’s A Night at the Opera, which allows me to perform my personal rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody belted out word for fabulous word with unquenchable manic enthusiasm. This, by the way, is as intuitive as Mooing when passing a field of cows. It’s a rare moment of pure unadulterated satisfactory expression.

My purpose for this adventure is to meet with a likeminded professor at Case Western University who not only understands, but preaches the power of positivity. A historic Gothic hotel is my stay of choice, where I arrive early afternoon and spend several hours writing uninterrupted. Nice. In the evening I turn the television on (I don’t have one at home, so this is an act of bravery) and surf around, landing on a National Geographic interview of the Dali Lama. His words and message send me to a peaceful meditative place before I settle into slumber.

Too cheap to spend the fourteen dollars for the hotel breakfast buffet the next morning, I head to Case Western three hours before my appointment. The campus is much different than the University at Buffalo I’m accustomed to, nicely interspersed with the local community and featuring as many modern buildings as old ones, adding a lot of character to the locale. The nature is different as well. There are groves of fascinating trees with pretty-colored peeling bark that I can only identify as River Birch. I also encounter several red squirrels and a skunk safely observed from afar.

After I wander for a bit, I ask a student on a street corner where the best place to get a cup of coffee is. His friendly response doesn’t disappoint. When I arrive at The Coffee House, I find the perfect spot to my personal liking. No franchise here, instead a quaint local shop in a restored old house, clean with antique furniture and run by a local owner (in our short “small world” chat, we discover that his wife grew up ten miles from me). And they have Jamaica Me Crazy flavor! I hang out there and write some more before taking a long walk, exploring buildings and engaging in people watching.

At noon, I am warmly received by both the Organizational Behavior Department and the professor. As part of their MS in Organizational Development and Change program, he teaches a course and concept called Appreciative Inquiry, a process that focuses on an organization’s and its employees’ strengths to be built upon rather than problems to be solved. This is done through a series of inquiries and storytelling to invoke positive emotional responses. After taking the course online, I know the material and his intense wisdom and insights will add significant value to the work I will be doing in my program coaching young adults diagnosed with mental illnesses to thrive.

Dining over the best college food I’ve ever tasted, we talk about topics that aren’t often strung together… joy, neuroscience, compassion, Alzheimer studies, coaching, how words create worlds and the importance of listening. I show him the draft of what I am working to accomplish and he gives me more contact names and offers to review it and send feedback as I move toward implementation. My serving heart is working its way into a plan, and I am grateful for the encouragement and support.

Spirits elevate after our meeting; I head out into the sunshine to enjoy the waterfront and a stop at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame where I read about the history of Bohemian Rhapsody. I don’t sing it there, at least out loud. My visit provides a fun jaunt through music history and memorabilia and my favorite display cases exhibit the first handwritten drafted lyrics of some of the most famous songs ever written. Words create worlds.

My evening ride home is more passive, with instrumental synthesizer music accompanying my smile, the dimming sunset and some contemplative thoughts.  Reflecting back to seven months ago when I received word that my job would not be renewed, I thought, “When one door closes…”  And then I said out loud, “Let us keep inspiring one another.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Grand Delusion

A dialog exchange I heard recently:

“Do you think I’m delusional?”

“Only if delusional means seeing the world differently than most of the world sees it and differently than most of the world would like you to see it.” Followed by this statement, “I stand in the delusional place of mastery with all the greats.”

Me too.

As someone who is able not only to think out of the box but spent my entire life living and breathing out of the box, I appreciated that perspective. As someone with a mental illness who has heard “delusional” often associated with diagnosis and flawed perspective, I found it such a relief that it brought a smile to my face throughout the day every time I repeated it. You see, for as long as I can remember, the herd is not what I wanted to follow, the popular crowd has never been my destination and I don’t do trendy. Granted, there have been three weeks out of my life when my mental illness has brought me to the clinical diagnosis of “delusional.” But over my lifetime that leaves more than 2,541 weeks when I have been living it on my own terms.

This means finding alternatives when there are seemingly none. In my latest example, weary and discouraged from the traditional job search process, I told a friend that I am finding one-on-one networking and setting up my own marketing campaign to find employment because I just can’t bring myself to sign one more cover letter “Sincerely yours” when I’m not even close to meaning it, and nothing makes me feel more unproductive than hitting the “Submit” button on an online application for a job designed for hundreds and sending it into impersonal oblivion. She laughed and said she knew I would come up with a creative approach. And that I will succeed.

It is safe to say that somewhere along the line the brilliant minds of the past (Edison, Ford, Leonardo DiVinci, Newton, Goddard to name a few) must have had some level of delusion in order to manifest their ideas for the advances of mankind in such extraordinary ways. After that they were forever referred to as geniuses. When I was a child growing up in my neighborhood, we were delusional as well, only back then it was called imagination. Clouds were pictures painted just for us, back yards were campgrounds, picnic tables pushed together were pirate ships, we were whatever we wanted to be and no one could convince us otherwise. We were awesome.

I am blessed every day in my delusional state to see many things that others don’t.  Like St. Francis, another famous historical delusionist, I see hope in despair, light in darkness, joy in sadness, trust in the Universe which allows me to find alternate pathways to happiness, magic, miracles and a steadfast belief in unconditional love. And while my fellow human beings are enmeshed in drama, anger, gossip, mistrust, feeling victimized, complaining and negativity, I am busy being caught up in my delusion of inner peace and gratitude. That makes every day of my life worry, stress, doubt and anxiety free because what I see is seen through the eyes of my true heart; inner spirit, not clouded by exterior influences.

How’s your vision today?  May it be filled with joyful delusion.

 

Greetings and Inflatable Penguins of Joy

 

 

 

I have to write in the language of beauty and love, nature, life. Some call this fluff, I define it as the wonderful things that happen every day. I don’t know much about the scientific perspective of nature. I’m not a botanical expert by any means and I have a difficult time identifying flora and fauna, especially by their Latin names but I am able to describe to you the awe I experience when strolling beneath a canopy in a forest or walking through a grove of palm trees or down the shores of my favorite beach as the shells wash between and beneath my toes. I can tell you about the excitement of a toad as he becomes startled and jumps out of a leaf pile, and I sense the feeling of the creek bed as the stream of water runs along it. I believe all of these things are here for us to notice.

I’m not adept at Search Engine Optimization or keywording to lift my content to the top of a Google list, but I can tell you what it feels like to witness the smile of a child as he receives a gift from a loved one or two people in love as they gaze into each other’s eyes or smile in connection. There is so much love here on this planet, so much kindness, so much giving, yet there is so little time and so many barriers in the way. Somehow I am drawn to point it out and write about it, love it, live it.

Today on the commute home I took a moment at a red light to notice my surroundings. The falling snow was shimmering in the glow of the streetlights with the black sky as a backdrop. That, coupled with the house displays brightened the night. Some were intricate and precise while others consisted of a single strand of lights randomly tossed over a small tree and an ornament propped up on a porch light; possibly a lame attempt by a teenager to appease his nagging mother. I am intrigued by the row of inflatables on one front lawn with a penguin situated behind a drum set in the middle. He waddles back and forth swinging his green vinyl sticks. He is silly and amuses me. It makes me happy that so many people still take the time and make the effort to decorate.

And so flows the humor of life, wrapped up between all the beauty. Like beauty, humor is found daily, also worthy of the writing. It is offered everywhere and a gift to all willing to receive it. It is easy to miss, overshadowed by the distraction of screens. But they are all there, nature, beauty, love, kindness, humor, waiting to be noticed by onlookers like me and you, and enjoyed. Have fun.

 

Sharing my calendar today: Kisses and hugs forgive and love

A little meditative humor for the holidays: take a deep breath and stay in the “present” moment

Peace and Joy everyone!

Impeccable Me

I just finished reading a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  Excellent read by the way. The first agreement is “be impeccable with your word”.  As a writer, I found that statement really made an impression on me.   Words are very powerful.  You can choose the wrong one and alter the meaning of something important or say the wrong thing and change someone’s life forever.  I choose the words I use very carefully when I am writing.  Not so much when speaking because of the spontaneity of the moment and tendency to respond on a quicker basis. To know my truth, to live it and to speak it every day in every situation is whom I strive to be and worth the challenge. Claiming to live under the pretense of joy, love and compassion, I’d better put my money where my mouth is.

I am grateful to have a gift to put words together in a meaningful, constructive and entertaining way when some people struggle to assemble even a sentence.  I feel a responsibility to be a woman of my word and stick to it.  I need to be better at that, and spend less time passing judgment on others and situations.  I will start in my thoughts first, long before they become my words, especially on paper.  I often wrongly pass judgment on myself, so I must start a great big campaign to toss out words of encouragement and kindness to myself.  If I don’t matter to me, how can I possibly matter to others.  And I will be conscious of practicing that theme of joy, love and compassion until it’s expressed every time I speak, write or think.  I’ll be impeccable.

Culture and social media make it easy for us to throw our opinions out quickly without thought. Surveys, comments, reviews on everything imaginable. Life rated. Very few opportunities exist for us to just stand back, watch and listen without distraction of phone or computer. I’m taking every chance I get to slow myself down to the point where I’m ready to remember the importance of my word. To think before I speak. People often pay me compliments on my writing, calling me inspirational and funny.  Before I am any of that, I’d like to be known as someone who is impeccable with my word, for this by default can only result in natural transition to speaking and writing the language of love. And I want to make it my purpose to do that loud and clear and consistently. I can only imagine how satisfying that will be in the effort to being at peace with myself. What a goal.

 

And now, sharing a Little Joy:
Waking up and hearing a lawyer commercial: “We have all of the extensive resources you need.” And thinking I just heard, “We have all of the expensive resources you need.”

Going out for lunch when it is 20 degrees outside and returning to the bonus of a second row parking space, only to forget after work and doubling your walk backtracking when you remembered!

Mother and Son

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As my youngest rolls into his third decade on this planet, I can’t help but wonder where the time went.  It seems like just yesterday that you were doing laps across the front yard in your pull ups pushing your Fisher-Price Bubble Mower.  Now look at you working proudly as an auto technician living at home paying your rent and keeping your mother good company

The boyhood years were wonderful, watching you play in our country yard, solo or with your big sister.  There weren’t very many neighborhood children, so you had to be content with those imagination fueled joyful destinations like your custom-made tree house or the immense hole that you dug in the faraway parts of our backyard; perfect for contemplation. You spent all day long there in the summertime and in the winter would come and place your chapped red cheeks in my hands to warm them up while you cried after being out for too long until your little hands were frozen. This became routine in the colder weather.

The hardest times were after the divorce combined with the bullying and cruel years of high school.  Those moments when I questioned your behavior…was it normal teen, depressed, bipolar?  There were pressures from all sides, including inside. Take him to the counselor because of his anger, his lashing out, his verbal abuse his violent actions.  Come to find out you were merely speaking a different language because you didn’t know how to say, “I’m hurting, I’m angry, I’m sad,” and I was so busy trying to overanalyze that I wasn’t able to hear, wasn’t listening.  Until that night in the garage when you yelled profoundly, finally getting through, pleaded with me to understand, and slowing down, I did.  The night that I finally stood still long enough to see what the world was like through your eyes and we both cried.  I remember that being your breaking point into the threshold to adulthood and mine as a parent.

There’s been a lot of learning for both of us.  And even at your worse moments when you were throwing chairs into walls and calling me a f__king b__tch I have loved you.  I’m sorry we had to endure those moments.  But now come the rewards.  Knowing how to communicate your true feelings, facing your trauma and processing your anger have all been steps in you finding yourself.   I’m proud of the man you’ve become and not even because you hug me Good Night now and tell me that you love me.  But because you have experienced the pain that life can produce and keep moving forward anyway.

I’m not sure how this Mother and Son thing is supposed to work. I fell in love with my very first sight of you and never let go. Even when I couldn’t help or even understand you I never gave up on you. And I’m grateful you never gave up on me. To every mother who is blessed with a son I wish the same.