And I wish to be a badass drummer

One of the things I’m most proud of as a parent is instilling in both of my boys a deep appreciation for music. Or maybe I’m taking credit for something beyond me, but I’m gonna do it anyway. I have always loved music. I grew up listening to the top 40, and watching MTV,  but starting in my adolescence and continuing through my teenage years, music became something that I felt defined me as a person. It was part of my identity. And not only that – it was also a tool for survival in the most confusing and tumultuous years of my life. For that reason, the music I listened to during those years (hello 90’s alternative) will always hold a very special place in my heart. For all my love and appreciation of music, I have never learned how to play an instrument. I’ve tried learning guitar both as a teenager and again in my 20’s, but just never got the hang of it. Or never could stick with it long enough to get the hang of it. It just did not come naturally to me.

Not only do my boys appreciate music, but they’ve both been blessed with the ability to pick up an instrument and learn how to play it. And play it well. One of the greatest joys in my life today is to hear them creating music together. My oldest son plays in and tours with a few different bands, records and mixes his own music, and is committed to making a career out of it. My youngest son plays in the band at school, takes drum lessons, and is a talented marimba player who also dreams of a career in music. Both have been able to travel to different states to play their music in festivals. Both are really very talented and inspire me on a daily basis.

My youngest started taking drum lessons about a year ago and tonight was his first drum recital. I didn’t exactly know what to expect when I walked in to the Nazarene Church this evening where they were holding the recital, but I can tell you that there were a lot more people there than I expected. My husband and I sat down in one of the pews as they finished running through a short rehearsal. What happened next is slightly embarrassing, very strange,  but also makes a ton of sense to me if I really think about it. One of the young girls was running through a quick snippet of her song during the rehearsal and I can hardly even explain what came over me, but I literally started crying uncontrollably. As I started to convulse, my husband looked over at me and could hardly process what was going on. He could see I was hysterical, but he couldn’t tell if I was laughing or crying, he was utterly confused. I was trying so hard to hold it in. He finally registered that I was crying, and bless his heart, he asked if it was a girl power thing and went and got me some tissue out of the men’s room. He’s also seen me cry at the cross-country meets when the girls come across the finish line. I don’t know exactly what this is, and it really only happens with the girls, but I just start overflowing with emotion. It’s just too big to hold in and I start weeping. It’s not exactly tears of joy, but it’s also not just sadness. It’s like a mixture of both. And that’s exactly what happened to me tonight when I heard that girl drumming her little heart out, sounding like a total badass.

It’s like it hits this part of me, to the core, that regrets SO MUCH how I let my fear stop me from doing so many things I didn’t even allow myself to want to do when I was growing up. It’s like I’m witnessing what could have been if I had just not been so afraid. I’m staring my failed potential in the face. At the same time I’m overwhelmingly grateful to be witnessing these young girls reach for their potential with all the courage I never had.

My youngest son has decided he would like to take a break from his drum lessons over the summer and his instructor has really been encouraging him to stick with it. So, I got to thinking while I was sitting there at the recital tonight that maybe I should just take over his spot and learn how to play the drums myself. Look my potential in the face and this time have the courage to walk through the fear of failure. As the recital went on, I kept thinking and thinking about this. There were a handful of adults that were performing as well. One of the older women who’s been taking lessons for two years played ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele and I was in a puddle of tears again. And I don’t even like Adele (at least not her music – of course I love HER, that salty Brit). But she played it so well. And you could just tell that she loved it. Then another kid would come on and play kinda shitty and I would be like, “nah, I shouldn’t spend the money on drum lessons, that’s a ridiculous idea”. And then someone else would come on and would just kill it and I would reconsider. Then someone would go on that wasn’t really good but looked like they were having a really good time and I’d be all “I’m totally gonna do this”. And it was back and forth like that the whole time. And then at the end, when everyone had played and the show was over, I looked over at my husband and said, I’m gonna take over Caleb’s drum lessons. And he knew I was serious.

And goddamn it you guys, I talked to his instructor after the recital and told him that Caleb decided he really wants to take a break from lessons, but here’s a crazy idea….I’ve wanted to learn how to play the drums and would it work for me to take over his time slot on Tuesdays? He looked surprised. Like that was pretty much the last thing in the world he expected me to be saying. Do you have any experience? he asked. Nope. You know how to read music, or play the piano or anything? Nope, not a thing. I know absolutely nothing. Okay, he says, we’ll get you started.

See you Tuesday drum instructor. I’m ready to start. And maybe next year, I’ll be playing in that recital and Caleb will be watching me. Maybe he’ll take note that it’s never too late to learn something new. Maybe he’ll notice that his mom had a little courage.

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A question for the Universe

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Part of my vision for this blog has been to have honest conversations (mostly with myself) which might help me and others experiencing similar situations explore and process some kind of conclusion or truth we can live with.

There’s one conversation I keep coming back to with myself regarding my business and my goals around my career. In a broader sense, my purpose. I started my Etsy shop 4 years ago, and while my level of “hustle” surrounding it has ebbed and flowed over the years, I have never lost sight of it on the horizon. I have rented space at two different Antique/Vintage Malls where I’ve spent a period of time shlepping my stuff from here to there in order to sell it. I’ve done a lot of flea markets and antique and vintage shows over the years. I started this blog, I started another business with my BFF, and yet somehow I keep getting back to this spot where I feel like a complete and utter failure at it all. Logically, I know this is a place that everyone who owns their own business probably faces at some point or another. And I’ve explored enough self-improvement to know that my thoughts are magnets and if I keep thinking I’m a failure at this, then that’s what I’m attracting, blah, blah, blah.

But this morning found me in tears still in bed at 11 am. Scrolling. I have been super disciplined and hyper focused on my personal happiness and professional success lately. I have been eating well, exercising and meditating everyday, and diligently working at my business through Etsy and Instagram. And while I had a really great and productive day,  yesterday was the first day I missed my meditation after a 76 day streak. I missed my first workout in my 30-day challenge after a 26 day streak, and had set a goal to reach a certain number of followers on Instagram by the end of the weekend and it was looking like it probably wasn’t going to happen. So that little critic inside that I’ve been working so hard to keep quiet was really loud when I awoke this morning. It started crowding out all the nicer voices. “I told you! You’re not good enough. Why do you keep trying to prove me wrong? It’s a waste of time. We always end up back here. I’m right. You’re wrong. Who are you to think anyone cares what you think or do or say? You’re reaching for a life that was not meant for you. Because you don’t deserve it.”

Guys, I have lived with this voice my whole life. And it is so mean! Plus it sounds just like me, which makes it so easy to believe. I have seriously done so much work in therapy and in my recovery over many many years to get this voice to be quiet. At least quieter or learn not to listen to it. It’s the same voice that, if I’m not careful, will start telling me that I’m not really an alcoholic. I just drank too fast. I should try it again and just drink slower this time.  Ha!

But here’s where I’m at today, because I’ve had a recent breakthrough around my thinking. Right now I know this is a voice in my head, right? And if I’m the one listening to the voice, then who the fuck is talking? Not me. It’s the goddamn critic. It’s like the devil (if you believe in that sort of thing). So….as soon as that realization takes hold, and I know I’m the one listening to, and not saying these horrible things, then I get to choose not to listen. I get to choose to think something different.

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I still get to ask myself if this life I’m reaching for, that I’ve envisioned for myself and my business, is not meant for me. Not because I don’t deserve it, but because perhaps I was meant for something else. Or maybe it is meant for me, but in order to achieve it, I have to first learn the lessons I’m learning in patience. And persistence. Do you know the definition of persistence? I do, because I just looked it up: “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition”. Maybe there is no way for me to appreciate the life I have (or want) without patience and persistence.

But it sure seems like this shit comes way easier to other people and they seem to appreciate it just fine. I have seen people who started their shops at the same time as me or even after me and they seem to have been way more successful at it than me. And I don’t think I’m bad at this business. I honestly think I’m pretty good at it. So why then all the patience and persistence requirements for me?  I really don’t know. And I would really like an answer. Universe? Answer please?

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What I do know is that I love the life I have envisioned for myself and my business and I’m not quite ready to give up on it. I actually love the life I have today regardless of how successful my business is. And if it never got any better than what it is right now today (my life), I know I would be ok. And it’s not like my business has been unsuccessful. It’s just not where I thought it would be when I started this journey. It’s not happening on my goddamn timetable! I don’t know if it’s not taking off because it’s not supposed to? Ever? Or if I need to practice a little more patience and persistence. Hustle a little more. And if it’s not supposed to happen, how do I know when to throw in the towel? Try to figure out some other purpose for my life?

I actually wish someone would just tell me.

You can leave the answer in the comments below.

 

wait, it’ll come to me…..

Do you ever wait for motivation to come? I do. It’s something I’ve struggled with on and off since forever. I’ve talked about this before. In fact, it seems like it comes up in almost every blog post. I want something to change, I know what I need to do to bring about the change, and I wait for the motivation to come to take any action around it. Problem is…sometimes I have to wait a really long time for the motivation to arrive. And sometimes it never does. And sometimes, for whatever reason, I’m willing to take action even if the motivation isn’t there. This is something we talk about in recovery a lot. Willingness. And honesty. I’ve definitely come a long way from where I was ten years ago but I still have a long road ahead.

God damn though, when the motivation does come and I get going on something, I am really committed to it. Whether it’s eating better, exercising more, practicing meditation, working my program, once I’m in….I’m IN. At least until something interrupts my momentum. Then I have to start over. Waiting for motivation. Or willingness. Whichever comes first.

I think it’s fair to say that, by default, I am not a very self-disciplined person. I ate 10 Oreos in one sitting yesterday. I’m a 40-year old woman, people. I have no business eating 10 Oreos. The thing is, I have this part of me that is always wanting to improve. To be the best version of myself I can be. I like this part of me. I feel like this is more my true self. But I have this other part of me that’s like a lazy, self-indulgent Jabba the Hutt. I’d like to think this is not my true self, but some form of ego that wants to keep me separated from the world around me. Sometimes my life feels like the battleground of a tug of war between these parts of myself with me caught, frozen, in the middle. And it’s so frustrating when Jabba is pulling harder on the rope. It makes me want to hate myself. I usually choose to not hate myself (that has not always been the case). The whole point of Jabba’s tugging is for me to hate myself. That’s the fastest route to my separation from the people around me.

People can change though. I am a firm believer in that. Sometimes the opponent in my tug of war loses for good. I used to be a pretty unorganized, untidy person, and now I’m someone who can’t even eat a meal until I’ve cleaned up the mess I’ve made while preparing it. I can’t relax if there are dirty dishes in the kitchen or wadded up clothes on the floor, or overflowing recycling bins. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind and is a source of unhappiness for me. When it comes to being tidy and putting things away where they belong, I have learned that later never comes. As in “later I will feel like putting those dishes away”. I know with every fiber of my being that I will not feel like doing it later any more than I feel like doing it now. I am unable to believe this lie anymore. I used to buy it all the time. That’s why my house was cluttered and messy all the time. Because later never came.

So the question I’m proposing to myself now is how do I start recognizing and stop believing this lie when it comes to other things in my life? Like eating better and exercising and daily writing and meditation? What happened that made me not able to delude myself any longer when it comes to cleaning up my stuff? What was it that made me unable to delude myself any longer that I wasn’t an alcoholic? I don’t know! I know pain is a motivator for me. I know I was in a lot of pain when I finally admitted to myself that I was an alcoholic. I don’t remember being in a lot of pain when I started cleaning up after myself better.

My husband rides his bike to work every single day, without fail. Even when it’s three degrees outside. Even when there’s a foot of snow on the ground. Even though every day he has to climb our relentless hill to get home. To him, it’s not hard. It’s just what he does. He does not believe a lie that says, let’s wait until tomorrow. We’ll want to do it tomorrow. Tomorrow it will be easier. And perhaps those lies don’t even appear on the horizon for him. I know they would for me. Ask me if I ride my bike into town everyday. I don’t. Now, ask him why he doesn’t put a dirty dish in the dishwasher instead of leaving it in the sink (or on the coffee table in the living room), he will probably not have an answer for you. But I suspect that he must think that it will be easier to do it later. That later he’ll be motivated to do it.

What lies do you tell yourself? That deep down you know are lies, but you believe them whole heartedly anyway? Do you know what they are? Do you know that they’re lies? Is it that you have a great relationship when actually you don’t communicate, and you live like you’re roommates? Is it that you’re a great employee when you’re really just doing the bare minimum and you feel entitled to more than you receive? That you’re generous and fair, when you’re actually greedy and self serving? That you want to “help people”, when you really just want to be a hero for your own glory? That you have control over something that you are totally powerless over? Not saying these are your lies (or mine), but everyone has some lies they live by. And it’s not easy to look at them. As soon as we start, there is protest. You need not look here!

A huge part of my life in recovery is living a self-examined life. To be constantly on the lookout for my character defects and how they’re showing up in my life. Constantly being on the lookout for the lies, the self delusion, the fear and resentment. And to constantly be weeding them out. But you know how weeds are. Relentless! They’ll never stay away forever. It’s a lifelong process. And one I’m willing to keep at, especially if it means I get to stay sober and get closer to the best version of myself. It’s a simple concept. But not always easy. Some of these things really don’t want to be weeded out. They fight like hell to stay in the mix. Some of these things helped me survive for most of my life. They’re things I learned when I didn’t even realize I was learning them. Things so ingrained in me, they’re sometimes hard to recognize for what they are. Self delusion, judgement, manipulation, self pity. But my task is to keep looking. Honestly. Wholeheartedly. And the reward is that I have a better quality of life. More peace of mind. Better relationships. A sense of ease and comfort that I once was only able to find in a bottle.

I’m currently working at my longest streak ever of days meditating in a row. What it took was starting a women’s meditation group at my house and telling everyone I was going to meditate everyday until the next group. Accountability.

Still waiting on the motivation or willingness to exercise everyday. It’ll come to me. Wink wink. Until then, I’ll have to keep searching for the things within myself that are blocking me from the things I know I need in order to live a happy life. And once I weed some more of those out, then maybe I can stop waiting for motivation. Because sometimes motivation is like later. It NEVER comes. Besides, I’m tired of waiting.

Home renovations, pt. 1

Hard to believe it’s been since April that I’ve posted here. My entire summer, except for one glorious week of vacation on the Oregon coast, has been consumed by home renovation projects. Like 50 of them going on simultaneously. And, as I’m sure any of you know who have renovated your homes yourselves, it has not exactly been fun, although I have enjoyed certain parts of it. We’re coming up on October here real quick and we still have projects left to finish and a couple, mainly one massive one, that we haven’t even started yet. Anxiety? Yes. Some doubt that we’re really going to pull it off? Yes. Sleepless nights and some avoidance of reality? Check and check!

Entry/Kitchen BEFORE
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Entry/Kitchen AFTER

This process has provided me with a lot of “opportunities for growth” in the areas of patience, acceptance, compromise, and letting go. Let me just say that my default when things do not go as planned is denial, blame, and negativity. I have to fight real hard not to let those things overtake me, and I’ve been up and down with this a lot lately.

When we started planning for these renovations back in December we were relying on misinformation from a moron at the bank who over promised on some things. Like WAY over promised. By the time everything was finalized, I had already had to let go of my dream bathroom remodel with a soaker tub, my hardwood floors, my cedar hot tub on the back deck, and later my new kitchen appliances. And as projects started to run over budget, I’ve had to let go of a few more things I had planned to get done. And while I may sound somewhat ungrateful, I really do love what we’ve been able to do so far. It’s kind of amazing to scribble plans out on paper and then see them come to life. There is just a part of me that revolts against having something I want taken away. Maybe that just means I’m a big baby. HOWEVER, I CAN actually reason like an adult, it just takes me a beat or two. So basically, starting in the Spring, I have been going through a cycle of 1. Outrageous excitement 2. Disappointment 3. Acceptance 4. Gratitude. I guess the universe just thought I could use some practice at this? Thanks, universe. Now leave my remodel the f*#% alone!

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Living Room BEFORE
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Living Room AFTER (for now)

What we have been able to do so far is:

  • Install new wood-look laminate flooring and new custom baseboards throughout the common areas upstairs
  • Replace carpet on the stairs and in the downstairs bedrooms
  • Modify cabinetry in the kitchen to make it more open
  • Install quartz countertops in the kitchen along with new kitchen sink, faucet, and light fixtures
  • Remove walls in the kitchen and entry and reconfigure closet in the kitchen
  • Tear off and rebuild a new deck and staircase on the front of the house
  • Stain front deck and stairs
  • Order custom metal railings for deck and staircase
  • Modify cabinetry in the living room
  • Install new French door from living room to back yard
  • Tile master bathroom, paint existing cabinetry, install new hardware and accessories
  • Tile new backsplash in the kitchen
  • Remove shrubs in front of house and replace with pavers
  • New area rug in the living room
  • New ceramic planters for front stairs
  • New baseboard heaters in living room and kitchen

So yeah, really does seem I’m an ingrate when I look at that list!

Like I said, there’s still more to do, but the inside of the house is basically done and that’s a giant relief for me. No more microwaving shit in the living room. No more having to hang out in my bedroom because it’s the only place we have furniture. And most importantly, no more sharing a bathroom with boys!

Stay tuned for home renovations part two…….

A surprise message of hope from the Pope

It’s been a while since I posted last. I’ll be honest, I’ve been going through a “weary” phase. I’ve grown tired of waking up every morning, and checking my Facebook to find news of whatever new terrifying atrocity our White House has been responsible for. The attacks on our environment, our healthcare, on immigrants and refugees, on Muslims, among others. I’ve grown tired of calling, writing, and emailing my legislatures to receive back confirmation that my republican legislatures do not actually give a shit about representing me. I kept asking myself every morning, how much worse can it get? And then the next morning finding out and asking myself again.

I took my personal Facebook app off of my phone a couple of months ago, because, honestly, I needed a break. And I’ve been having an internal struggle with myself ever since. On the one hand, I felt it necessary for my own sanity. On the other, I kept feeling like I was just avoiding reality. That it’s my duty as a citizen to stay informed (of actual facts), to inform others, and that I was shirking that responsibility. However, I’m a true believer in self-care. I know that I am not capable of being of service to others if I’m not taking care of myself. So after a much-needed break, I reinstalled my Facebook app with a renewed sense of healthy self-care. I cut back on a lot of the news and political accounts I was following so I could have a better balance between actual social interactions with people I care about and staying informed on news and current events. I don’t have cable, I don’t watch the evening news and I don’t order the newspaper, so Facebook has become my main source of news and events. This makes it very important to me that I only follow reputable news organizations that report facts and, in general, I’m trying real hard to keep shit positive.

I’m also trying real hard to figure out what it is that I can do to make a difference. Because, I can tell you honestly, that contacting my republican legislature in Idaho is not making a damn bit of difference. Enter, this guy…..

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Don’t you wish this guy was your Grandpa?!
On Facebook this morning, I watched a great TED talk of Pope Francis titled “Why the only future worth building includes everyone”. I’m not Catholic, I’m not even religious, but I’ve admired Pope Francis since he took the throne at the Vatican and I think he carries a great message for all of us humans. He brings up three messages in his talk:

First, that we are not alone, we are all connected. That “we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone…….everything is connected….even science points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else”.

Second, is the importance of solidarity and hope… “How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion…How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples, and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the ‘culture of waste,’ which doesn’t concern only food and goods, but first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people”. He says, “We have so much to do and we must do it together…Through the darkness of today’s conflicts each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around”

Third, Revolution! “The revolution of Tenderness…..Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other…..to listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need…..Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you and will ruin the other. Through humility and concrete love….power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.  The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, or great leaders, of big companies. Yes they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us’.”

Now, I could get all judgey and argue that our White House, our President, and it’s supporters could really use this message (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), but I have a feeling that is not the point of what the Pope is saying. What I hear him saying is that we have to practice humility on all fronts. That we need to see all others as equals, as a part of the ‘us’. That includes the President and his supporters. If we keep falling into the “us versus them” trap, we are just further harming ourselves.

I get so upset when I think about how our administration is trying to put policies into place that put white, wealthy Americans and profits of corporations ahead of human decency, and the protection of our planet. In my mind, there is one race. The human race and we are all part of it. Equally. There is no religion, no skin color, no economic status, no nationality that is more important than any other. And there is one planet. There is no planet B! If we destroy this planet, it doesn’t fucking matter who lives where and who’s right or wrong. We’ll all be toast together. So this is where it get’s tricky for me guys. Because it kind of looks like I’m saying my ideas are better than theirs. I’m right and they’re wrong. And isn’t this just another form of us versus them? Or…. is there some transcendent, universal, cosmic right and wrong? And don’t I want to be on the right side of that? This is what I still struggle with. How do I stand against oppression without standing in judgement of the oppressor? Is it enough to just have compassion for the oppressor? For is not the oppressor in some way suffering? Oppression, in my opinion, is a symptom of fear, and fear is a form of suffering. There are many other symptoms of fear and we all have fear in some form or another, not one of us is completely free of it. And it follows that we all have symptoms of fear in some form or another. My fear makes me judgey and self centered. How is that any better than oppressive? Well….

These are answers I don’t have. I’m just asking the questions. And I guess I will keep asking them until I find the answers or until I no longer feel that I need them. In the meantime, I will take what Pope Francis says to heart and I will try to practice more humility, more tenderness, and more solidarity that my candle might burn a little brighter and snuff out a little more of the darkness. I cannot control another’s willingness to practice humility, tenderness, solidarity. Only my own. And for now, that is something I feel I can do to make a difference. If even a small one. 

Practicing Meditation

Establishing a regular and sustainable meditation practice is something that does not come easily or naturally for me. That doesn’t mean it’s not important to me, and during the times in my life I have had a consistent practice, I have reaped the benefits; I have felt more calm, more grounded, less anxious, more creative and more balanced. This is a common theme for me, though. I start something that makes me feel really good about myself, about my life, and I do it long enough to feel like I don’t need to be doing it anymore.  It doesn’t matter if it’s exercise, prayer, practicing my recovery program, meditation, meal planning, or cleaning. And once I stop doing whatever it is that’s working for me, I eventually get into enough pain to motivate myself to pick up the practice again.

I made a decision at the beginning of the year to put forth more of an effort in reestablishing a regular meditation practice and I’ve finally taken some action around it in the last few weeks. The effects are pretty instantaneous. Meditation, for me, is a way to tap into that inner resource which is available to us all. This inner resource is like a direct line to the collective consciousness of the universe. It’s infinite, it’s boundless, it’s peaceful, it’s sanity. And once I tap into it, my thoughts and actions become more inspired, my intuition elevated. I feel more loving toward, and less judgmental of others. I feel more hopeful, more creative, more motivated, and more forgiving of myself and others. It’s really quite magical.

When I decided to make more of an effort this year at a regular meditation practice, I thought about the things that have helped me establish and sustain one in the past. For me, the most important thing has been to have a designated spot in my home for my practice. It doesn’t have to be a large area. When I was most consistent at it, I just had a little table in my bedroom next to the wall with a cushion I stored underneath. And I did not have the ginormous bedroom I have today. It was actually quite small. But it worked. Having this sacred space for my practice made it so much easier to actually sit down on a regular basis and actually use the space for it’s intended purpose.

As a beginner at meditation, I found it really helpful to use some guided meditation CDs until I got the hang of things. I kept a portable CD player and earphones in a drawer in my meditation table along with a few different CDs that I found helpful. This was before the time of phone apps – there are so many meditation apps you can get on your phone now. It didn’t take long for me to memorize a few of these guided meditations, and then I was able to do it on my own, although I still like to use the guided ones.

Also helpful has been the use of candlelight and incense. There’s just something about what this does to my senses that helps me enter a meditative state of mind so much easier. I’ve been using a sage smudge recently and every time I smell that burnt sage, I feel more relaxed. It’s like a mental cue for me now.

I’m a big believer in energy. Like, in the energy of things. The energy of people. Also, I like rocks. They’re cool. So I have a small collection of rocks, gems, and crystals that I use in my practice as well. There are so many different beautiful rocks! And, if you’re open to it, they all seem to have a different energy. They’ve been a good tool to just kind of elevate things.

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meditation zone

Right now, my meditation zone is set up around the coffee table in the seating area of my bedroom. I have a vintage rattan table filled with things I love and things I use for my practice. I keep my rocks and crystals in a brass framed glass box that I bought at a rummage sale. I have a porcelain tray that I bring my rocks out onto. I also have some candles that I light, a small round wooden box my husband gave me for a wedding anniversary that I keep my sobriety coin in, and a ceramic pedestal bowl that a dear friend made for me that I use for my sage smudge. I recently added a plant to the mix, a shed antler that was found in our forest, and some vintage brass coasters that my sister in law gave to me for Christmas. I have two options for seating: a low woven footstool and a woven meditation pad I recently scored at the goodwill. There’s a Himalayan salt lamp on the dresser I usually turn on and I still use my little portable disc player. Lately I’ve been listening to some chants recorded of the Dali Llama that a friend gave to me several years ago.

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rocks!

It’s been such a wonderful thing to get back into a regular meditation practice. I don’t do it every day, but I also don’t beat myself up for not doing it every day. I do my best. And my best today is much better than it was just a few weeks ago. The rewards are plentiful, and it usually takes me no longer than 15 minutes. Not a huge commitment, especially considering the return on investment.

If you’ve been thinking of starting up a meditation practice, I highly recommend it. Set about finding a sacred place for your practice, include the things you find most helpful and meaningful to you, and get after it. It’s pure magic! And tell me how it goes!

The Fox and the Rabbit, a book review

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. My first book was titled “The Fox and the Rabbit”. I was five years old when I wrote it. It had an illustrated book cover, a title page, and everything. I remember it taking days to write it, it was a secret project I would work on at night in bed after my parents thought I was asleep. I wanted it to be a surprise. When I finally finished it, I took it out to my parents to share it with them. I still remember where my dad was sitting at the dining room table after dinner that night. My mom came in from the kitchen to listen to my dad read it. As he started reading, I thought my dad was going to die. I had never seen him laugh so hard in my life. He could barely continue to speak the words from the pages he was laughing so hard. I remember being impressed with myself that I was getting such an emotional response to my story, but I couldn’t understand at the time what he found so funny. It wasn’t really meant to be a funny story. But when I read the story today, it’s pretty clear what he found so humorous. First of all, my spelling as a five year old. I spelled squirrels “scwrs”. Secondly, the banter between this fox and rabbit was pretty comical coming from a five year old. That rabbit was a total asshole.

This story ended up being one of those childhood memories that no one in my family ever forgot. The story goes like this…..

There’s a fox. And a rabbit. They live together. The fox is, according to the story, clumsy and the rabbit is smart. The rabbit orders the fox around and the fox goes out to do the rabbit’s bidding. Here’s where it gets interesting……The fox, as I interpret it today, appears to be pretending he’s stupid in order to defy the rabbit’s wishes and do whatever he wants. The rabbit sends the fox out for “scwrs” for breakfast. The fox brings home fish. The rabbit scolds the fox, the fox plays dumb, like he really thought they were squirrels and the rabbit sends him back out. The fox comes home with candy (from a candy shop downtown) and gets scolded again. Again, the fox plays dumb like he really thought the candy was squirrels, and gets sent back out for squirrels. The fox goes out one more time and finally brings home the squirrels. He acts like he’s really proud of himself, like he didn’t think he could do it. The rabbit agrees that he didn’t think the fox could do it either because of his being so dumb. And stupid.

On page 4, we find rabbit yelling at fox to wash the dishes after their squirrel breakfast. Fox washes the clean dishes instead of the dirty ones (but did he really?) and gets reminded by rabbit of how dumb he is. I’m wondering if fox washed any dishes at all or just said he did. When fox denies he is dumb, rabbit wants to make him a bet, which fox refuses, and so rabbit calls him scared. Am not. Are too. Am not. Are too. The end.

I told you that rabbit was an asshole. He’s also a bully.

I do not recall ever having been bullied when I was five, except perhaps by my older sister who was kind of just being an older sister. I do find it interesting how my five year old brain came up with a coping mechanism for this poor fox. It seems to me that the fox was actually the clever one and the rabbit was getting played. I’m guessing that the fox didn’t like squirrels. He liked fish. And candy. He’s like, “hey asshole, if you want me to go get you shit for breakfast, we’re getting what I want first!” And his playing dumb, I’m guessing, spares him the wrath of a rabbit who would ever suspect the fox could be cleaver enough to knowingly deceive him.

Upon further analysis, this reminds me all too much of a negative voice I continue to hear in my head today. The one that tells me I’m not smart enough, I don’t work hard enough, that I’m just not enough. Thankfully, after a lot of growing up, a lot of work in recovery (and therapy), this voice is much quieter today than it was in the past. But it will always be there, just waiting for an opportunity. A weak moment. When I fail at something. When I feel rejected or dismissed. After reading this story again, I’m inspired by my five year old self. My plan of action when this moment of weakness occurs is to outsmart it. Like the Fox. That clumsy and clever fox.

Here are the original pages, if you can decipher them…..

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