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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beyond survivor

I woke up this morning with the thought that I am not a victim I am a survivor. In recent years I have often referred to myself as a survivor in the various pieces I have written. I am not sure that it ever really sunk in that I am no longer a victim. The shift in thought changes a lot. It creates a much stronger person. It was not until later in the day that I decided to Google victim vs. survivor. Apparently it was time for me to move beyond survivor.

First I found some great definitions that made sense of the whole matter. A victim is someone who was harmed by another or by an event. A survivor is someone who continues to live and succeed despite being a victim. The eye opener for me was a thriver is someone who can put bad experiences in the past and live in the present.

Assuming the role of survivor is a constant reminder that someone or something caused you harm and it continues to give that person power in your life.

Checking things out further led me to a wonderful website that compared all three groups.

It lists 24 items that allowed me to see just how far I have come. It made me really happy to be able to check off the majority of items on the thriver list. Apparently I have grown before my very eyes and no longer fit in the survivor column. I did not see that coming at all. One of the most meaningful comparisons was victim=hopeless, survivor=hopeful and thriver=faith in self and life.

I am grateful to have found something beyond survivor.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Are you dead yet?

I just finished another Kindle book titled Time Off for Good Behavior. It is never going to be on the best seller list, but I enjoyed it. The main character was a woman whose thoughts and actions were slightly different than most people, especially concerning justice. Her ex-husband drank and smoked to excess, among other not so nice traits. His doctor gave him months to live if he did not shape up. He didn’t change his negative habits and when the time ended he was still alive. She wanted to sue him or at least the doctor who had issued the proclamation.    

Now most people wouldn’t find this funny, but when I read what she wanted to do I couldn’t stop laughing because I could relate to her situation. I had a similar story about my ex-husband.

The man has spent most of his adult life drinking and even though he won’t admit it, it played a big part in my seeking a divorce 13 years ago. I couldn’t take the lies anymore. Since that time he has been admitted to the hospital more times than I can count for alcohol related problems. About five years ago his doctor actually gave him two days to live. Our daughter and his two stepsons were notified and dropped everything to come and say goodbye to him. They even checked out the mortuary and made a tentative selection for a floral arrangement at Hallmark.

The man is still alive and like the character in the book there was a time that I wondered if I could sue the doctor. To add drama to the story the doctor is the same one who performed my emergency surgery last year. In my case I didn’t do anything to cause my problem except reluctantly agree to radiation 23 years ago, which created scar tissue. In my ex-husband’s case he did everything he could to thumb his nose at God, causing his own life threatening condition.

To give him a little credit he did finally get the message to stop drinking, but still smokes. He is now the parent that two of my adult children are attached to the hip to, while completely shutting me out of their lives. Perhaps I should write a new book!

Sometimes things happen that are just so freaking funny I can’t help laughing.  Do you suppose this is a test to see how I am going to react? God is supposed to have a great sense of humor. I could wish my ex-husband dead, but instead I think I will just sit back and watch the end of the movie. Nobody lives a human life forever.

Monday, August 27, 2012

An inventory of your life

Today is the day I chose to respond to our latest "Write On People" writing challenge; An inventory of your life. Makes one think doesn't it?

My personal inventory changes on a daily basis. Items such as knowledge or material possessions are frequently given away or shared with other souls who need them as much  or more than I do. I do not believe anything is ours forever and if we don’t share what we no longer need there is the danger of becoming a hoarder. Our life piles up with so much unnecessary stuff that we no longer appreciate anything we have.  

There was a time not too long ago that I took responsibility for the problems of everyone in my life. I was recently given the opportunity of going back and discovering the root of this behavior. Understanding leads to change. Since then I have begun to let go of this negative controlling tendency and now allow others to live their own lives, without my help  It is not necessary that anyone else notices this positive change; only that I do.

The only beings other than me that I am still responsible for are my two cats, Ebony age 8 and her first born son Smokey age 7. Since they have no other means of support they depend on me for food and water and a little attention now and then is appreciated.

I believe the most valuable item in my inventory is good health, which I have worked very hard to achieve. My emergency surgery almost a year ago taught me to never take my health for granted and to do everything possible to respect and take care of the body that temporarily houses my soul. If the body no longer exists the soul will need to take up residence elsewhere and I am definitely not ready for that to happen.

The next most valuable item is freedom to do whatever I want to do. I have no one to check in with except me. After a total of 40 years married to my two husbands and raising three children, pretty much alone, it is a great feeling to be on my own. If I want to sit around in pj’s until noon or write until 3:00am I have no need to explain my actions to anyone. Of course, I realize I am totally responsible for the consequences of my decisions. That’s only fair.

 Among the items without price tags are my universal gifts of inspirational writing and spirit photography. Although they are still in the baby stage, I know if I continue to follow my strong instincts I will eventually be told what is to become of them. In the meantime the journey has led me to an interesting and unusual array of spiritual experiences and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given to grow.

Among the material items in my personal inventory are a paid for house and car. I literally owe no one anything, which is a lot more than most women my age living on their own can say. I periodically go through my possessions and reduce the clutter in my life. I know I am not taking anything with me on the day I leave earth except what I have learned on my journey to evolve.

Today my personal inventory consists of everything I need to be happy and I am grateful for it all.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Connecting the colors

I always find it exciting observing the way things connect when I am paying attention to the guidance provided.

Last night I invited a friend to my house for dinner. She had been away from town for several months staying with her children in another state. For the last three years she has been trying to sell her very nice home in an exclusive part of town. Most people in this area could not afford the price and she is depending on a professional family to move here and take it off her hands.

My friend has been a widow for six years and desperately wants to move from our small southwestern town. She literally hates living in Grants, NM. She hates the town because in her opinion there is nothing to do here. Most of all she hates the people because in my opinion she is the most prejudiced woman I know. I am thinking that God/Source is trying to teach her a lesson and just as soon as she learns it her house will sell and she can move on.

I have learned myself that when we don't truly appreciate what we have we are stuck right where we are. Nothing much is going to change. I have recently begun to look around at what I have with a more grateful attitude, knowing that it is a whole lot more than most women in my position have.

After she left last night I began to wonder what in her past life has caused her to become so prejudiced. My next thought was, why does it upset me so much that she is? Is it possible that I might be a little prejudiced myself?

I remember moving to the Laguna reservation back in 1976 and the thoughts I had at the time. I pretty much believed all Native American's were a lazy bunch of people. It didn't take me long to realize that my opinion was flawed. I was at the time married to a man who was 1/4 Laguna and never gave that much thought. Even when our daughter was born or my son, from a previous marriage, decided to marry a Native American it really didn't matter. The next step was when one of his daughter's married an African American, producing my first great-grandson who will turn two in a couple of weeks.

I grew up in the State of Washington in a time when skin color was not part of my experience. It was not until I moved to California in the 1960s that I even noticed. At that time it was due to illegal immigrants from Mexico. I worked as a supervisor for a garment manufacturer owned by a man from India. It was referred to as a sweat shop, even though it wasn't quite that bad. I don't believe the experience caused any bad feeling toward the employees as a group, except that I didn't think it was right that they were illegally taking American jobs.

A recent experience while walking in the park got my attention and caused me to question just how accepting of other races I have become, while living here. Our park attracts people who have a problem with alcohol and sometimes sleep there during the night. It is fair to say they are usually Native Americans. As I walked I spotted a group of these drunks sitting on a bench on my path. I became alert. I also noticed a man and a woman sitting on another bench with a group of ducks and geese surrounding them. I at first thought they were part of the drunk group simply because they were obviously also Native American.  

Lesson coming up!

As I approached the couple I noticed the McDonald bags on their laps and that the ducks and geese were loudly begging for a handout. I started laughing because their honking and quacking was so loud. When I realized I had been wrong in my assessment I stopped to chat with the couple. We were observing the ducks when I commented that some of the younger ones had some pretty strange colors. Some of the adult ducks are white and some are Mallards. We decided there must have been some odd bedfellows in our little park. Apparently ducks don't care what color the skin is.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Experiencing to share

I just finished reading a wonderful book titled, Sarah of the Moon by Randy Mixter. I have been taking advantage of the free books offered by Amazon's Book Bub and the free Kindle for PC application that my son added to my computer last year. Free is sometimes a good thing, especially when you live on a limited income.

This particular book was about a young writer who was sent by his Baltimore newspaper editor to tap into what was going on in San Francisco in the Haight-Ashbury district in the summer of 1967. This period was known as the "summer of love". Alex, was the passionate writer who lived among the tenants of a large house right in the middle of hippies, flower children and peaceniks.  This was a time when pretty much everything was free, including love.

He sent weekly articles back to his editor and learned as he wrote that drugs were not what the peace movement was all about. It began as a dream for global peace. The dream was ruined by the radicals and weekend hippies. It reminds me of what is currently going on in the world today. We all want peace, but when groups ban together for a cause it quickly changes to something completely opposite. Asking and expecting soon turns to demanding and the next step is innocent people being injured and killed.

In 1967 I was busy raising my two young sons and trying to make the best of a bad first marriage. We had just moved to Downey, California and hippies were not part of my life. I really didn't understand what was going on. Reading this book gave me a new view of life in that time.  It also served as a reminder that we all have our own path to walk. What is right for one is not right for everyone.

Oddly one of the quotes from the book seems to fit my life in general. It was "Alex was outside looking in". He fit in and was part of what was going on, but was able to step back and write about things he experienced from a detached place.  A therapist once told me it is impossible to be in two place at once. Wrong!

In an odd way that could apply to my life. It seems I am always experiencing to share, as if my life is a smorgasbord for others to nibble on. Like the flower children of 1967 my quest is to find peace.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nothing is ours forever

Yesterday I was introduced to a little book titled, Simple Living, written by Sister Jose` Hobday. She was a Franciscan nun whose mother was Seneca Iroquois and father was part Semole and a Baptist Minister. She died in 2009 at the age of 80. According to her biography she was holistic long before it was in vogue, encouraging others to have a zest for living and to experience the spiritual life with all our senses.

In a passage from her book she talked about taking an inventory of our possessions and giving things to others that we no longer need. She suggested keeping the things that fall into these four groups: needs, helps, preferences and luxuries. It caused me to think about all the things people acquire during a lifetime. Even those of modest means usually have much more than they actually need.

It also caused me to think that nothing is forever. Not one material thing or person belongs to us. They are only loaned to us for as long as we need them and then it is time to pass them on to the next person. Even our children do not belong to us forever.

Tomorrow I plan to attend a memorial service for a friend. A little over a year ago this man moved from his daughter's house to one of his own, even though he was in very poor health. The reason he did not consider an assisted living arrangement was because he had too many possessions that he could not part with. Now someone else is responsible for what he didn't need in the first place.

When my mother died it took us ten days to go through her apartment. Most of what she had accumulated over 76 years ended up being donated to charity, which did help others eventually. Since then I have made it a point to routinely go through what I have and find an appropriate home for what I no longer need.

I have decided it makes good sense to travel light, appreciate what I have and share what I no longer need because nothing is mine forever.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Photo motivation

This morning one of the members of my writing group brought us a collection of photos to choose from and then write a paragraph about. Photographs are a great motivator when your mind gets stuck. This is the picture I chose.
This picture reminds me of the path one takes on their human journey. The varied leaves with their unique colors and shapes are the experiences we have. Some are dried as if they represent memories long buried in the past. Some are still fresh. The rocks and water represent the obstacles on our path. As in our life journey the furthest view is slightly unclear.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Surviving a year's worth of lessons

Yesterday marked the return of my oldest son to his home in Colorado. He spent the last 12 months in Kuwait working as a civilian on a military base because he could not obtain a job any other way. That's pretty sad considering he has spent a good part of his adult life serving in the military in one form or another. I am anxious to find out how this experience compared to his Desert Storm days, literally living in the middle of sand. Some day perhaps he will write a book of his own. In the meantime I am very  happy he survived his journey in one piece.

I had no idea when he left last August that a month later I would be having emergency surgery and spend two weeks in the hospital. The rest of my year was one little challenge after another. When I look back at the variety of physical and monetary tests I was given I really have to laugh. Of course, none of it was funny at the time. Especially when I had to purchase a new furnace in the middle of the coldest winter we have had in twenty years. If someone had written a very bad script for Lifetime TV that could have been the story of my life during the last year.

Another thing that makes me laugh today is the number of sources I thought I needed to help me get out of the ridicules mess the universe decided to pile on me, all in one year. The books I purchased and read, the people I turned to, the web sites I tapped into for advice and support boggles my mind. Most especially is the amount of money I spent seeking medical help for problems professionals no doubt caused in the first place. 

This has been a year's worth of lessons and I am glad it is coming to an end. Actually, the lessons started way back in 1999 when I decided I didn't like my life and sought the help of a questionable friend to end a 40 year addiction to nicotine.

No matter what has happened in the last year and beyond there is now no doubt in my mind that I am a survivor.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

People come and people go

Through our lifetime there are many people who come and go. Often they stay for a short time helping us deal with a stressful situation. They can also stay for years; until the day something is said or done to tell us it is time for them to move on.

In my life it seems these significant people with their lessons to teach have for the most part had something to do with the issue of control, which I have concluded is my life challenge. Some of the nicest people are the biggest control freaks around. They are so good at what they do that they often go undetected for months and even years.

When someone thinks they have tuned into absolute truth watch out for them. There is no such thing. Truth is based on each person's life experience. What is true for you is not necessarily true for me. I have learned to trust myself based on the experiences I have been given. That is what is true for me and when someone else tries to impose their beliefs on me I delete them from my life. If it doesn't feel right it isn't. No explanations are needed. 

I have been divorced twice, once after 13 years and once after 27 years of marriage. Both times I woke up one morning knowing it was time to end the relationship because it was interfering with my life. There was no need for further discussion. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do for my growth. I might be financially better off if I had stuck it out, but money isn't everything.

A couple of days ago I deleted a friend from my life who has been supportive during my recent trials.  I saw that she was interfering with my ability to take care of myself. Her reaction was, "Okay Barbara, but I will continue to pray for your healing."

My reaction was, "No you won't!"

I informed her that I neither want nor need her to pray for my healing. In the first place it indicates that I am somehow flawed, which is not true. In the second place it shows how controlling she is. Does she think my voice is not strong enough to reach the ears of the Creator without her help? Well my dear deleted friend I am perfectly capable of praying for myself if that is what I choose to do; or I could accept that what is happening in my life is exactly what is supposed to happen and be grateful for the opportunities offered to evolve my soul.

Life goes on and people come and people go.
link to video "Reason, Season or Lifetime"

Friday, August 10, 2012

A shared story

Today I am sharing an inspirational story I found on the web site, "Happiness is Your Birthright".  I can't credit the author because I am not sure who that is.

This story is about a beautiful, expensively dressed lady who complained to her psychiatrist that she felt that her whole life was empty, it had no meaning. The lady went to a counselor to seek out happiness. The counselor called over the old lady who cleaned the office floors. The counselor then said, "I'm going to ask Sukhan here to tell you how she found happiness. All I want you to do is listen to her story"

"Well, my husband died of malaria and three months later my only son was killed by a decoit. I had nobody...I had nothing left. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I never smiled at anyone. I even thought of taking my own life. Then one evening a little kitten followed me home from work. Somehow I felt sorry for that kitten. It was cold outside, so I decided to let the kitten in. I got it some milk and the kitten licked the plate clean. Then it purred and rubbed against my leg and for the first time in months I smiled."

"Then I stopped to think, if helping a little kitten could make me smile maybe doing something for people could make me happy. So the next day I baked some biscuits and took them to a neighbor who was sick in bed. Every day I tried to do something for someone. It made me happy to see them happy. Today I don't know anybody who sleeps and eats better than I do. I've found happiness by giving it to others."

When she heard that, the rich woman cried. She had everything that money could buy, but she had lost the things which money cannot buy.

(Originally shared by Mahaj Helix)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Help me!

Last night I had dinner with a friend to catch up on things that had been happening in our lives during the summer. People get busy and disconnect on and off. In listening to her story I got more than I was expecting. It also started me thinking about my own current situation of being alone with nobody to help me.

Granted living alone does make one strong because you are all you have and if you don't do something who will? As age creeps up it also causes worries not usually found in a younger person. The what ifs start popping up. What if I should have a heart attack and nobody found me for a week or two? What if I had an accident and lay on the floor bleeding to death? Would anyone check to see if I was ok? In my case probably not and that's a pretty scary thought.

My friend, who also lives alone, told me about a very traumatic experience she had recently dealt with. It led me to evaluate my own life. She accidentally got locked in her bathroom for thirty hours. The room had no window and her front door was locked with a deadlock. She is a diabetic who takes daily medication. She only had access to water. Eventually a neighbor did rescue her by removing her glass patio door from its track. She was physically fine, but the experience scared the hell out of her! My friend also has family who cares and I am sure someone would have checked on her in time.

Her story also reminded me of the terrible snow storms we had last winter. Granted, my son-in-law plowed my driveway, but I still couldn't even drive to the store. The roads were ice packed for a couple of weeks. Nobody checked to see if I needed anything- like maybe food or toilet paper. I was a prisoner in my own house. This year I intend to take a page from the Mormon's and I'm stocking up on essentials.

Most people I know have family they can count on to help, but what about those who don't? I fall into that category and it led me to think about possibilities. What if these "alone" people could be gathered together and connected by a phone call every day or so just to make sure they are alright? If they didn't answer the phone further checking could take place. Best of all it wouldn't require any money, just someone who cares enough to help.

I have found that one question always leads to another so I'll let you know what comes next. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fake it til you make it

Today I am turning my blog over to a very special friend who is one of the most inspirational women I have met in a long time, guest writer Jaylene Welch. This is her story.

Fake it til you make it
My name is Jaylene Welch, I am a 43 year old woman who is just finding my way in the world. I have had a pretty good life. It's far from perfect and I've been through some heartbreaking times, but overall I've managed to paint a nice life. I'm healthy, I have friends and family that love me, three children, two granddaughters, a roof over my head and a job to support me. I feel very blessed and extremely grateful that I am in such good health these days.

Last year I lost over 100 pounds. It's been the greatest gift I have ever given myself. I get emails regularly from people who have read my story or seen my video. How did you get started? How were you able to lose your weight? How do you keep going after all you have been through in your life? Often these people are facing challenges in their own lives. I don't have a magic answer for them.

The truth is that the two main reasons I am able to persevere is 1)I always try to keep a positive attitude during the worst of times in my life and 2) I never give up. Sometimes my optimism was forced, but I ended up coming out on top because I never gave up. I believed that no matter what happened things would get better and eventually they do.

My achievements revealed themselves in ways I had not expected. Things don't always happen exactly how you think they will; but if you keep a good attitude and are ambitious your dreams will come true. People who are negative and complain don't get anywhere in life. They live in a rut and are always looking to drag people into the mud with them. But I know that if you stay positive and don't give up, it's nearly impossible for you to fail to reach your goals. You have to live, eat and breath them and the more obstacles there are the more focused you must be in your pursuit. Reaching some goals will feel like a marathon while others will seem like a sprint, but if you don't keep pushing ahead you'll never reach the finish line. When things seem farthest you must have blind faith.

A crucial part of making your dreams come true is to set lofty goals, break them down into smaller ones and put them on paper. But that's not it alone. You need to give the goals life. You need to send their energy out by visualizing them regularly and by telling someone about them. By telling someone about your goal you give it life. Now there is more energy out there to help it become a reality. Not to mention telling somebody about it also helps to keep you accountable.

Make yourself a dream board or at least some pictures of your goals. Visualize them and push forward executing the steps it takes to make them a reality. Put together a list of your goals...personal, financial, health, family......make your dreams come true!

(Link for Jaylene's blog)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Play it again

I just responded to an online test that was supposed to tell me what I wanted from life. My results were: experience, love and health. Oddly, before going to bed last night I wrote down what I believe I am searching for:good health, security, a mate. How close can one come without being right on?

The main difference was experience and security. My experiences have taught me what not to do and if I had another chance I would make different choices that would probably have led to current security.

First I would not have listened to my ego telling me that compared to others I had little value as a person and no special talent. I would not have listened to my mother and found a way to obtain an education beyond high school, finding out that I actually am worthy of the best the universe has to offer. It's called self-esteem. 

I would have listened to my intuition and not married either of my husbands, thus avoiding being subjected to their negative addictions. I also would have learned a lot earlier that I am quite capable of taking care of myself without the assistance of a mate. It's called independence.

As far as children go I may have stopped at my first born. Of course, that would have meant no grandchildren. Sometimes we have to deal with the negative to get to the positive. That's called a reward and is often worth the price we have to pay.

Unfortunately, I only have one chance to live my life. Approaching age 75 and knowing that where I am is the result of the choices I have made is causing me stress. Why didn't I listen to the guidance I was offered? Why didn't I trust that God made me perfect just the way I am?

Compared to many women my age my life would be considered wonderful. I own my house, my car and owe no one anything. I have enough of everything for today and I am truly grateful.

I guess the only thing missing is love.
All You Need is Love- the Beatles

Saturday, August 4, 2012

If I were rich

If I were rich would it upset the balance of the universe I wonder.
If I were rich just once in my life would it upset the balance of me?

There was a time not so many years ago when I thought $50,000 was a fortune. I have made it stretch and stretch until today there is little left. Waste was not an issue, I simply took care of what I thought I was responsible for. Many wrong decisions were made following that train of thought. I have learned the hard way that helping others because they make me feel guilty is another word for manipulation, both on their part and mine. Love is not for sale. Sometimes the best thing a person can do for someone else is say the bank is closed.

About ten years ago the universe planted a thought in my mind that I would someday be given a very large sum of money. The details have never been explained, but the thought has remained year after year. I have always assumed it would be a universal inheritance of some kind. Not having any rich relatives to my knowledge the unrealized dream has remained a mystery and quite frankly is becoming annoying. "You are never given a dream without a means to make it happen", right!!

When it does happen I will keep my gift a secret, improving my living conditions and making sure I will never have to worry about security again. What fun that would be to watch the faces of those who never took the time to help me when all I needed was for them to care. I can read their lips asking, "How did she do that?" My answer would be, "It's none of your business, it's between me and my Creator!"

It would be fun to be a secret millionaire, looking for people and groups who really do need help, because they are out there every day helping others. It would be terrible to be an Oprah Winfrey or Donald Trump, living in a glass house. I don't need multiple houses or gold faucets in my bathroom to be happy.

If I were rich would it upset the balance of the universe I wonder.
If I were rich just once in my life would it upset the balance of me?
link: "If I were a Rich Man"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Positive results

I am happy to say that my new holistic approach to pain is working. My body is responding and I am getting my life back. I was not created to be an invalid and I refuse to play the part. It doesn't pay enough.

I have a very large front yard which is 100ft wide by about 35ft deep. Due to an abundance of rain lately it was literally covered with weeds. Some were 2ft tall and some were crawly little things that at first I thought I could pass off as grass. As my grandson used to say when he was a toddler, "No way Jose!"

Not having anyone to help with my little problem gave me two choices. I could close my eyes and pretend it didn't exist or I could take a deep breath and tackle the mess with my trusty hoe and rake. The latter choice won. I couldn't stand it anymore! I have always believed that people judge what is inside your house by what your front yard looks like.

It took a few days of diligent work, but with determination and disregard to any pain my body was displaying I got the job done. I proved I was right. The pain that had almost convinced me that I might live the rest of my life as an invalid was slowly leaving. It was after all, mostly in my mind.