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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Seeking a Heroine

I run away from myself at every turn. I write a hard thought and the next thing I know I am making the bed or rinsing the dishes, any flurry of activity will do to avoid the pain that can accompany self discovery. I heard in a book I am listening to that when a woman has a worry she turns to work in order to gain sympathy for herself. But I am alone here in my work, there is no one to impress with my endeavors. It is simply a way to escape from myself, and I am truly tired of running. Like many others, physical work has always been an escape for me, turning to domestic duties to avoid the work of the soul is quite a habit. But in recognizing it I stop and turn from where I am making the bed, and come to sit and write and try to face the thought that first drove me from my desk. I have failed at living up to the self imposed standards of love, honor and trust that I so admired in the books I read as a child. Seeking the strong heroine in the pages I devoured, wanting to associate myself with the qualities they displayed became an obsession as I read my way through Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables and Elnora of the Limberlost. I think of myself as a good person and have mostly tried to do the right thing when called upon to choose, yet I have done a few unspeakable things in my life. Learning to forgive myself has been my major battle these past two years, Joey’s death the final spiritual stab at my failings. Why do I linger here fighting internally instead of moving back out into the world and starting my penance? It has been suggested to me that I hold my standards too high, and I think no, my standards are fine, maybe yours are too low. But as usual I digress. The point here is to deal with my self imposed disappointment in what I feel are my failings, and to recognize them for what they are…gone into the vapors of my past and irrelevant to my living in the now. I see that I am afraid to start anything, because that requires me to accept the responsibility of the consequences to my actions. It is much easier to hide away in the comfort of my new puppy than to get dressed and initiate … anything! So truly, has it come to this, that I am just lazy and willing to use any excuse to do … nothing? Some heroine; lets see, what would I do if I were in a book, that might be a good place to start.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Two years

It was a hard week leading up to this day, but now that it is here I find that the love and support of friends and family keeps me from despair. It truly is Joey's birthday somewhere else, and my confindence in that keeps me sane.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Flock of Robins

I was treated to a wonderful moment this afternoon as I headed out on my bike for a little exercise in the warm winter sun. Riding down the path next to our local golf course I noticed several brightly bosomed birds winging about between the fruitless pear trees that lined the path. I slowed to a stop in order to memorize markings, already anxious to be home and looking them up in the field guide we keep in the living room. Much to my amazement the more I looked the more birds appeared, and then I realized it must be a migratory group. I was confused because they looked too skinny to be Robins, and many had a band of white and black speckles on their lower breast. As I rode away the sky filled with birds; a hundred or more rusty smudges lifting from dozens of trees and dotting the blue sky as they flew away to the east. Apparently an announcement had spread through the flock; although the boughs of the privet trees bent low, heavy with the weight of ripening berries, they were not yet ripe enough to host them a feast. Once home I deduced that indeed they must have been Robins, but with a preponderance of juveniles (explaining the speckled breasts) which I was not used to seeing. I am now excited because out of the plethora of privet trees that were planted in our suburban neighborhood 25 years ago, two of them stand in my backyard. Today the robins were a reminder that very soon the Cedar Waxwings will arrive, descending in droves to decorate my trees with their bright colours as they strip the branches of their dark purple berries. I try to imagine Kaylee’s curiosity as we sit on the patio, her in my lap, watching hundreds of little feathered friends flutter about; it will be a fun couple of days.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Positive thinking

This morning I curled up on the couch with Kaylee, our new mini-dauchsund, and watched the Oprah I had taped yesterday. I often do this so I can zip through the commercials, I just don’t have the patience to sit through them. In bygone days I would jump up at the commercial break to rotate the laundry, finish off the dishes or just pick up all the small things that had accumulated throughout the day creating little messes here and there; a tea cup, a screwdriver, a pile of folded laundry – how lazy I have become!

The show was a follow up to The Secret. For those of you living in a closet this past year, this was a book extolling the virtues of positive thinking, the law of attraction, and how we create our lives through our thoughts and feelings. In this show we were shown three more women who have also made a positive impact on others by sharing these same lessons; Louise Hay, Martha Beck and Cheryl Richardson. It was a wonderfully positive affirmation of how we can heal ourselves, but again with the reminder that looking forward can only do so much if you are still hanging on to baggage that is dragging you down. And it’s all about the forgiveness, the sticking point in my life. It’s where I berate myself for not having done a better job as Joey’s mother, for not protecting him, for not having set him a better example, for spanking him as a child (what the hell was I thinking?) and for divorcing his father. I have learned that I can’t play the ‘what if’ game, but I can’t seem to forgive myself for the rest, and even thinking and typing this right now is just drawing more negative energy into my life. I hate knowing that, and I do realize how ridiculous it is for me to harbor grudges against myself. But I realized watching the show how much I had given up even trying lately. I had been doing gratuity exercises upon waking each day, and taking the time to meditate or at least practice breathing exercises while repeating positive affirmations. In looking back the decline started right after Thanksgiving. I was focusing my energy on eating right, and had begun writing which is great, but I had made my world so small and I was focused so tightly on those things getting me through the holidays I sort of forgot and began to back slide into negative thoughts. So now that I feel I have the eating sort of figured out, and I am writing daily by habit, it’s time to start focusing on the positive. I have written (ok, whined and moaned) about how hard everything is, but have I written about how blessed I am? Family who love me through thick and thin, a snug warm house and food on the table, health insurance, a new puppy, and a network of friends I have met online through my W8Book Page in our common quest for weight loss.

The women on Oprah all spoke about release in one way or another, and this is what I am going to focus on so it expands, releasing myself from the guilt I feel. Maybe if I think about it this way I can ease my way into forgiving myself. Because this is what I shy away from, some part of me yelling “Traitor!” when I start thinking about moving forward, finding joy in life, and using positive thinking to change everything for the better. So, using the Psychocybernetics I studied in high school I will start imagining and visualizing forgiving myself, I will find ways to see the release happening in physical form to create a path for the emotional release; birds come to mind, taking flight and physically disconnecting from a branch, dogs tugging rope, one of them running away the victor, a kite breaking free from it’s string as the wind tugs it ever higher into the sky. I can at least do that much.

In thinking about it I realize I have been laying the groundwork for recovery. First it was people, connecting with them online, even meeting a couple of wonderful women in person, their understanding and support gems in my pocket. Really taking the time to research and trying to figure out what to eat, knowing that a healthy body was crucial for a healthy mind, I think I am on the right track there now thanks to a beautiful young woman in my life. And now recently welcoming music back into my life (as I write this Stevie Nicks is singing Sara and I even join her once in a while. “When you build your house, then call, me home.”) I feel like that is what I am doing now, building a house, a life, where I can feel at home, and I needed this reminder to think positive.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Ba dum ba dum ba dum....heavy paws beat like padded drums down the hallway, chasing me, there's a small wet kiss on my toe and dum ba dum ba dum she's off and away again. Standing at the sink I feel a soft touch of fur against the back of my foot, and I know to keep still and when I do move, it's slowly, carefully, ever mindful that she is just a tiny bit of a thing. I am exhausted, my mind hasn't had to focus on anything this much in a long time and the effort is showing. Not to mention getting up and down off the floor. OMG...I am so tired. And not because she isn't sleeping, she is an angel at night. She whines from her bed on the floor next to mine, and I whisper "Shhhhh, go to sleep" a couple of times and she settles in to sleep, never waking me during the night. My SO returned home last night, and she is taking her time warming up to him, he's a big guy with a deep voice, but he is slowly winning her over. The timing is bad, he is only home for the day, leaving tomorrow for Reno, another four days away; bonding time for them is very limited this time of year. But he finds her sweet and thinks she should stay. I wish I were as confident this is the right thing; a friend reminded me of an old saying that you aren't free until the kids move out and the dog dies. Sad but true, and I'm not sure I want to give up that freedom. Of course I have not been using my freedom for any good end, just to mope, swimming in that sea of me until I am weary and ready to beach myself. So yes, the diversion is good, and yes, I love the comfort she brings as she snuggles into my neck and gives me kisses. She is so smart, responds to verbal signals, has figured out the dog door, and waits patiently beneath my desk as I write. She is playful without being needy, and ever so cute. So I guess we now have a dog, and I need to go buy her a collar. Oh, she is a miniature dauchsund, born 10/31/07.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Guitar practice

The guitar strings cut deep lines into my fingertips this morning, burning reminders of my five minutes of practice. And this is going to take practice; A LOT of practice. My hands are stiff, too long away from my music, and I found even the simple act of switching chords a challenge. But it will all come back, I can feel it. I can do this. And maybe there will be a meeting of music and words? Could I possibly write songs? I used to keep notes, bits and pieces of songs I began and never finished. But back then I was scattered, flying off in a million different directions…I wonder where that notebook is….

I loved the part of the Tom Petty docufilm where he says that the best songs just came to him; he would be sitting there playing and the first lyrics would come and then the whole song would just follow, coming through him into being. He didn’t want to analyze the process, fearing he would lose it; I found that so graceful, for him to accept this gift without analyzing it to death. What a smart man. And then seeing him yesterday; it was fun watching him and the Heartbreakers perform during the half time at the Superbowl, and somehow I wasn’t really surprised – I just sat there thinking, how’s this for a positive affirmation! There are no coincidences….

Sunday, February 3, 2008

More guitar stuff

Waking up this morning I noticed it was only 2:41 when I began yet another day by perusing the TV channels (hey, it’s been really cold!) And there was Neil Young (much older now, aren't we all) playing
The Needle and the Damage Done. My fingers began to twitch remembering the feel of the song and I lay there wondering if the universe was indeed speaking to me. Searching online I found so many recordings of this song I was amazed. There were even tutorials with close ups of the chording; okay, okay, I get the message! I fell in love with this song back before a needle ever hit my arm, back before I felt the first rush of heat through my body. We use to play with our guitars at the pizza parlour where I worked after closing was done and the front doors locked for the night. Great acoustics in there! After days up on speed everything sounded wonderful, even I sounded on key. So yes, another ghost from my closet, I suppose I am a recovering addict (it's been almost 29 years, can I say recovered?) While drinking was nothing special, we did that from an early age at the yacht club, drugs first intrigued me when I move to San Francisco at age 19. I was living alone for the first time, and while the sixties were gone, the sex and drugs and rock n roll lived on strong and I was not immune to the lure, probably more for the companionship than anything. Everything was casual until a few years later when I met my ex, and all of a sudden drugs were a life style. Without going into all the gory details, for several years we lived fast in fantasy land until one day I saw the pictures taken at a friends wedding and didn’t recognize myself. I cleaned up and two months later I was pregnant with my daughter, elevating food to the drug of choice in the process. I haven’t thought of it quite like that before, if I hadn’t been pregnant with all the cravings that entails would I have made that transition? Would I even have been able to stay clean? But those questions are part of the ‘what if’ game I do not allow myself to play. So where was I? Oh yea, playing guitar. Guess I’d better get busy.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Runnin’ Down A Dream

I just finished watching a documentary on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It was like a trip down memory lane, each album he made book marking a part of my life; from sex and drugs and rock n roll to motherhood, marriage, back to school, a new career, the end of marriage, raising teenagers, death and taxes. It was all there for me to remember, for hours I was mesmerized by the music that has been with me through 30 years of my life. Tom and Stevie, she was there too through it all, sometimes the music was the only things carrying me through days I couldn’t face alone. So why have I abandoned this comfort. I guess I know why, because one day a few months ago I caught myself singing to the radio in the car on the way to the office. And I looked up and said “See, I’m going to be okay.” And the guilt was overwhelming, even as I recognized that I shouldn’t go down that road there I was trudging along, pulling myself back from that moment of joy as if I had been burned. There was another moment not so long ago where we caught a performance of Styx on the new HDNET channel playing with the Cleveland Contemporary Youth Orchestra back in 2006 and they were doing
I am the Walrus and the violins just swept me away, and the joy of the kids playing the music reached in and grabbed my heart and held it tight, the notes screaming at me ‘where have you been’ and filling me until I could barely breath my body so full of the sound and emotion.

So back to this morning, I was lying in bed waiting for the house to warm up, flipping through channels on the TV (that shouldn’t even be in the bedroom, I know…) when I saw the words Runnin’ Down A Dream and the song was immediately in my head and I hit enter on the remote. Four hours later here I am wondering how I have lived without the comfort of music these past couple of years. I began learning guitar back as a teenager, inspired by my
Uncle Guy and the wonderful music he brought to family gatherings. I started lessons at a community center program, learning folk songs and finger picking, then on to high school where I learned to read notes and gained confidence. Next it was on to a music college where I began to study classical guitar and penned my first original score. There are many stories, leading like steps from there to here, none of them a good explanation for why my guitar (the same one my parents gave me in my teens) is packed away in a hard case under my dresser in the bedroom right now. I used to play in my twenties with friends after work, and later for my children when they were young, but I can’t remember the last time I pulled it out and dusted it off. I think that not having a voice had something to do with it, I married into a family who could sing, I mean really sing, where I was always a little flat. Now here I am, living with a man who loves the guitar and every so often asks me about playing. He has … let me go count…a dozen electric guitars that I can see, four of them out of their cases on stands, most of them Fenders, tucked away into this tiny 1100 square foot house. (don't even ask me to count amps)Some of them he means to sell; acquired in his hunt for the perfect guitar he loved finding them, taking them apart, replacing the worn parts, putting them back together with pristine strings and polishing them until they gleamed only to discover that the certain magic he was looking for was absent. It is so quiet here when he is on the road as he is this week, gone are the rifts he practices over and over as he watches TV, plays computer games and voraciously reads online. (He is a multi tasker who can’t seem to get an empty bottle from the countertop in the kitchen to the recycle bin under the sink, I mean, there aren’t even steps involved.) But I digress. I need to welcome music back into my life. I have become addicted to audio books, the words following me from the car, to the kitchen, and then out for a bike ride or a walk. They are with me as I fold laundry or do dishes, and I only silence them when I am reading, writing or watching TV. I try and try to meditate, but Heaven forbid I should allow myself anytime for complete silence and thought, which usually leads to pain. I have known for some time that this is me hiding and ... and ... and having written even that much I freeze, my fingers refusing to finish the sentence. Because even the idea of moving from denial to acceptance in the ‘stages of grief’ is beyond my comprehension, there is just no way to accept my son is gone. There has to be a differnt path than acceptance. So this morning I am thinking that music might be a way to fight back, and maybe I will go get my guitar out; if I can do this, maybe I can create a chink in my armor and find my own way out of this impossible situation.