Breathing Instead of Bailing

In case you haven’t noticed, I trashed the “What No Longer Serves You” post.  Since I decided to return here to this space I didn’t want my bailing out post to be hanging out there anymore.  Obviously, bailing wasn’t the answer to my search.  It reminded me more than anything that I’m still searching and it sucks to not be able to talk about it.  It seems a bit silly, but I realized coming here gives me a sense of purpose.  It exercises my craft but more importantly it exercises my soul.  When I take my reactions and my feelings and I put them into words and out into the world I learn more about who I am and where I’m going.

I physically bailed on this blog on August 27th when I published that last post, but I mentally bailed at the beginning of the summer.  At that point I lost touch with friends (such as Musing Madman) who challenged me and helped guide my spiritual development, I stopped making time for silence, and I let my mind carry me to the future far too often.  I spent oh so many hours dwelling on goals and desires that I fear will never come to fruition.  I let the fears grip me to the point of paralysis.  I let gratitude slide and my breathing become shallow.

I mention breath because it really is a metaphor for life.  Shallow breath usually comes along with anxious feelings and anxious feelings usually accompany shallow thoughts.  When you breathe deeply and consciously, you can’t help but live that way too.  I’m reading the Paul Ferrini book, Silence of the Heart, now.  It begins with a few pages about breath.  It points out that whenever you are upset you can stop and observe that you are not breathing (or not breathing deeply).  If in that moment you take a few deep breaths you will feel some relief from that angst.  “One who breathes is not afraid or overwhelmed by what life presents….”

I hope that this post is the first of many.  I hope I can find solace and inspiration in both the silence and the breath.  I know I have experienced great peace from them in the past.  Yet in the moment, returning to that peace is a challenge that should be easy but strangely isn’t.  I took a minor detour on my path to self-discovery.  I lost myself a bit in fear.  I wanted answers that are simply not ready for me yet.  Now I’m easing my way back to surrender…

Summer Changes for the Blog

Hey everyone!  Last Tuesday I had an epiphany that I should take the summer off from blogging.  I started planning how I would make this coming week my final week for the next 3 months or so.    I came up with some reasons and excuses for doing this, two of them being the most important.  The first is that my girls will be out of school for the summer.  They are enrolled in no summer camps or programs so that we can spend lots of time together.  Lately Callee has become a bit of a mischief maker and I’m pretty sure it’s because she’s growing tired of entertaining herself while Bella is away at school.  I hope to provide them with lots of fun activities and attention this summer!  The other reason is that quite simply I’ve become too attached to my online life and I really need to reconnect with my real life.  I want to be better and do more for the people that I can see, touch, and talk to.  I also want to create and maintain a spiritual practice that will connect me more deeply to the “Something Within”.

So after coming up with the idea and the reasons I began to share with friends.  Most of them advised me to do whatever felt right, but one of them simply said it was a bad idea.  He pointed out that he thought my postings lately have been really good.  He reminded me that I have built a community.  He said the magic word: BALANCE.  “You just need to find a balance.”  With that I was sold.  I don’t need to quit blogging, I just need to create balance.

As of right now my plan is this:  Friday, June 4th will be the last day of the current 7-day-a-week posting schedule.  For the summer I will begin a 3-day-a-week schedule Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays.  I will not solicit any new click stories, but any I receive will be posted on Wednesdays.  I will also be writing for Owning Pink so after their new site launches in June if you really want to read more from me, you should be able to find something there.

OpinionatedGift’s Click

I met OpinionatedGift through this blog and Twitter.  He left a nice comment, I clicked on his blog, read and instantly knew he was good people.  I have so enjoyed reading his thoughts and opinions over the last year.  He is a really good friend and someone I have a lot of respect for.  He was among the first group of people I asked to write a click story for me.  I’ve tried not to pressure him too much, but remind him every now and then that I’m still waiting for his click.  He always tells me he’s still thinking about it.  Last week I read the following post on his personal blog and I thought…that’s it.  I emailed and asked if I could share it here.  He kindly agreed.  You can follow him on Twitter here and read his blog here.

Twelve years ago this week I was spending my days going through my father’s apartment with my brother. Dad had shot himself on the 9th and his body was found by his oldest friend in New York on the 12th. Twelve years ago Wednesday.

Twelve years ago I was sifting through grief, memory and questions questions questions. Not the ones you might think. The fact is, when I got the call from my brother that the police had called him from Dad’s apartment, I knew what had happened. I’d hoped I was wrong. But I knew.

Mom said it best that night when we called to let her know. “He was always so sad”. It was true. He was also scared. Whatever the combination, he had a dim world view.

I loved my dad. He was basically a good man who never really dealt with his anger issues, his alcoholism or his strengths. A talented actor, he’d packed us up from Tucson Arizona, sold the Ford Falcon and got us on a train to New York City and went straight into substitute teaching and social work. His career as an actor was essentially small productions in holes in the wall (before the moniker “Off Off Broadway” was coined.) and extra work in movies.

As a kid I would listen while he would lament the vagaries of the business and how hard it was…and it instilled in me the belief that the business was indeed brutal. It didn’t stop me from wanting to be an actor. It didn’t stop me from thinking I could do better. But these things are insidious and the sins of the father are often visited upon the son. His beliefs did become mine and even when I achieved some pretty good if minor successes, my joy would be tainted by fear of the success not lasting.

Now to be sure, being an actor isn’t easy. It can be brutal, but I can see very clearly as I look back how my own thoughts and feelings that were inherited affected the way I approached my career and subsequently the way my career developed…or didn’t as it turns out.

Twelve years ago fears and doubts overtook my father to the point that he no longer was able to reason. This man who raced down the street with me…encouraged me to take the training wheels off my back when he knew I could. The man who when he saw I was floundering in my efforts to audition for the High School of Performing Arts bought a gazillion plays for me to look through and helped me find the right pieces and even coached me. A man who as a social worker had saved or improved as best he could, so many lives, wasn’t even able to remember a simple meditation technique because anxiety had overcome him.

He’d been given Buspar and started to take it, then stopped. 12 years ago it got so bad that he sat at the edge of his bed and ate the barrel of a .357 magnum. He left a note that was really more of an excuse than anything else. Fears of a cancer that didn’t exist.

Two weeks later, the girl he wanted to marry, a dancer from Japan was finally allowed back into the country. He’d become convinced it wouldn’t happen after months of legal back and forth. Fear of being alone and abandoned convinced him that his life wouldn’t work out as he desired. So it seems he decided to just stop trying.

12 years later I still wrestle with loving him and hating him. Remembering his capacity for compassion for everyone while he seemed to only have pity for himself. I am sometimes on the edge of forgiving him. And then I remember having to tell my daughter what happened. I remember how as she is now almost 20 years old, she can’t play chess because that’s what she used to do with Grandpa. I can’t quite do it.

For the past 12 years, for about 3 weeks before and after the anniversaries, he shows up in my dreams. Sometimes as if he’s never been gone, sometimes as if he’s only been on some trip in South America or something and we all just THOUGHT he was dead.I forget about it…forget it’s that time of year…sometimes even the days of his actual death or the day he was found go by entirely unnoticed. Sometimes not.

Twelve years later I can watch Dirty Harry make one line comments about his Magnum and still get a kick out of it. But when Heroes first aired and there was an episode with half a skull being cut off and brains removed, I get completely worked up.

I wrestle with fear too. And it’s not hard to see how it keeps me from acting. Clouds my thinking. I’ve made a decades long struggle of shifting from “can’t” to “can”. It hasn’t been easy.

Twelve years ago I cremated my father. Twelve years later I’m still cremating parts of his legacy so I can rise from the ashes.

Out-Numbered’s Click

I’ve been following @OutnumberedIsMe on Twitter for some time now.  I read his blog from time to time and it falls into the category of blogs that make me laugh out loud.  He is a much-loved personality in the blogosphere and Twittersphere so I decided one day to send him a request for a click story.  He quickly replied with a yes and sent me a few links later that day.  This was, to me, the most moving in a personal way of those he sent.  It truly caught the essence of the “click moment.”  So thank you, Mr. Outnumbered, for allowing me to publish this post and for the talent, humor, and generosity you send out into the world.

For my family…

The bathroom in my bedroom has a window right behind the toilet.

This morning I was peeing and staring out into the yard.

I spotted a bumble bee crawling across the roof.

Spring.

The seasons can signify many things. I suppose it depends on who you are.

For most, I would imagine they bring hope, change or inspiration. Perhaps all three.

But not me.

I don’t think I’ve ever needed the Spring as much as I do now.

The sun is like an awakening of sorts. Its bright light can change everything in an instant. There’s something about the warmth, the light, the smell of green.

So I’ve heard.

I’ve needed a change for quite some time. So long, that it’s hard for me to explain. It might be easier for me to speak in metaphors. I’m not quite ready to talk about all of this. But I need to let it go.

Suppose for the past 30 years you had been walking in the cold, gray, Winter. What if you’d watched countless seasons come and go but the Spring had always eluded you?

What if most days seemed as if they were filled with dark clouds and rain? So much rain. Imagine the Winter never left and Spring never came.

What would you do?

What could you do?

I can feel the Spring today. I can feel it for the first time in a long time.

For 30 years, I’ve carried a huge burden with me. I’ve harbored a lot of anger. I’ve tucked years of resentment so far down in my soul that I had forgotten it was even there.

But it was there.

Hardened.

Rotten.

Resentment has been the foundation for a wall I’ve built so high that I couldn’t even see over the top of it.

Concrete. Brick. Mortar. Repeat.

Mom, Dad, Wife, Children, Friends.

All on the other side.

My parents got divorced when I was 9. I remember the night they told me. I think that was the beginning. That night I locked the door to my heart and threw away the key. I wouldn’t ever talk about it again. I wouldn’t bother anyone. I wouldn’t listen to anyone.

I wouldn’t do anything.

I spent the last 30 years avoiding contact. I did whatever it took to stay at an arms length away. I wouldn’t let anyone even remotely close for more than a moment. I was afraid.

What could a 9 year old boy be so afraid of? What could a 39 year old man, with a job, a house and a family, be so scared of?

It’s simple.

I was afraid of being disappointed. I was afraid of being let down. I was afraid that it would happen all over again.

I was angry at my Father for leaving and I resented my Mother for letting him go.

It’s amazing what the mind will do to preserve one’s own sanity. Or maybe it’s just tragic.

I would take care of myself. I would wedge anything and everything between me and anyone who wanted a piece of me.

I would use alcohol, pills, food, whatever it took to numb the pain. I would self medicate for 30 years. I even used this blog. Especially this blog. It’s the perfect form of contact. It’s indirect. It’s not real. It’s safe because you can’t get too close to me…

Until now.

I’m changing.

I can feel it. For the first time, I’m starting to let go. I’m turning over the reins to a power greater than myself. I’m letting the resentment go and I’m inviting the ones that I love back in. I’m putting trust in faith. I’m having faith in trust.

These past few weeks have been hard. But not nearly as hard as all of the weeks prior. Over a thousand weeks gone for good. So much wasted time.

I must do this. I will not waste any more time.

I’ve taken some big steps to make things right. Things I’m not ready to talk about right now. Not here.

Today I felt the Spring for the first time in a long time.

It’s never felt so fucking good…

Happy Blogoversary!!

So today, May 3, 2009, marks the one year anniversary of this blog.  I published my very first post a year ago today.  I used the “law of three” as my reason for starting Waiting for the Click.  I attended a writer’s conference in April of 2009 and listened to a literary agent talk about “how to get published.”  One suggestion she made was to write a blog and build a following.  At that point the only blog I’d ever read was Dooce and I didn’t want to write the details of my everyday family life.  As much as I admire her, I’m no Heather Armstrong.  I didn’t see how I could make toasting waffles for the girls and watching Netflix rentals with Mark interesting.  My everyday life is pretty simple and there’s just no way to spin it and make it more interesting.  A few days after the conference one of my Facebook friends posted a link on her page under the heading “I’m a blogging fool!”  I clicked the link and checked out her blog.  My enthusiasm began to stir.  Not long after that (maybe even the same week), I was having a conversation about “signs from the Universe” and how we attract situations into our life.  The recipient of my ramblings responded by saying “why don’t you start a blog?”  And that was it…I said an enormous OK to the Universe and started taking steps to claim my space in the blogosphere.  My friend Heather put me in touch with her friend Matt who hosts a very popular blog about University of Tennessee sports.  He advised me on the best hosting site to use and gave me the down low on how to publicize and connect with other bloggers.  He also told me to pick a theme.

Since I had been emerged in Spirituality and the process of discovering my path and purpose, I decided pretty quickly the theme would be self-discovery.  Once I knew that the title just popped into my head.  My only concern was whether or not I could keep it going.  Matt had suggested that in the beginning it would be important for me to post everyday.  I wasn’t sure if I could do that, but decided to give it my best.

Now it has been a year and with the exception of one tragic week and with the help from a lot of readers and friends, I have published everyday.  Thank you so much for coming along on this journey that I hope continues for years to come!

I hope that you have learned at least a little from me, because I know I have learned A LOT from you!

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

Paths

Now that I am a parent, I often think about the role I play in my children’s lives.  There is the obvious of course, that I will feed them, clothe them, keep them healthy, make sure they get an education and give them lots of love.  But when it comes down to my desires and vision for their lives, how much will reality match the fantasy?  What really decides our paths?

Facebook has been an amazing look into people’s paths and how they often go in strange and unexpected directions.  When we step out from the consciousness of our families, we attract to our lives the situations and challenges that test us and bring us into our own.   When I was in high school I became fascinated with all things “unique.”  I would take weekly trips to vintage shops and artsy/New Agey stores and just walk around, mostly looking at clothes I loved but didn’t have the nerve to wear.  I was attracted to guys with long hair and piercings (too young yet to be into tattoos).  When I met a perspective boyfriend, I’d often ask “What do you do?” with the hopes of an answer like write poetry, paint, or play guitar.  All of my serious boyfriends did one of those three things.  The sirens of creativity called to me, even if vicariously through other people and places.  These days the vision I hold for my life is a marriage of creativity and spirituality.  My path, with its odd detours and speed bumps, seems to have brought me to me.

I have a friend named Toby.  You will meet her tomorrow in the first in a series of four click stories.  For a short period, Toby and I walked our path together.  We spent weekends hanging out with boys with long hair and piercings.  I tasted artichoke for the first time in Toby’s kitchen standing between her and her mother.  We played soccer and rode in Heather’s convertible Firebird singing Hotel California together.  I took my very first college road trip to visit her at NC State our freshmen year of college.  We were both poets and loved to write.  She was a lot more outgoing than me, but other than that we were very similar.

The last time I was with Amy we sat on her bed (she was on bed rest) and looked at each other’s Facebook pages.  Amy was so excited to share that she had found Toby.  I honestly don’t remember the exact connection but Amy and Toby were also pretty close friends.  Amy was the first to tell me that Toby had been a heroin addict.  When Toby and I finally connected on Facebook she was quick to share with me what she had overcome.  I also learned that she was a proud new mama who was finding her way back to writing.  Despite how drastically different the past fifteen years had been for us, we were now on similar paths…maybe even inching our way onto the same path.

Toby has now sent me four of her stories and has started her own blog.  As she put it on Facebook the other day, she is “writing furiously.”  I read her stories and am greatly aware at how simply and easily our lives can be changed…but also how we at some level create these challenges.  In one of her posts, Toby shares how she was always fascinated with heroin.  She read books and watched movies about addicts and fantasized about her own relationship with the drug.  And just like she always knew, the drug found her, was even presented to her as a birthday gift.  She made a choice that day and it was the only choice she could have made in the moment.  It brought her to where she is now.

What I think is that we are here to choose our on paths and make our own destinies.  Our parents will raise us, teach us, and love us but in the end who we really are will find it’s way through.  Sometimes we are just like our parents and families, sometimes we are not.  There are many crossroads.  Sometimes we make choices that could be described as selfish, careless, or just plain fucked up.  And sometimes it is those very choices that ultimately bring us salvation, even if that salvation comes after a long and hellacious battle.

Gratitude Fix

So today I’m in a mood, feeling a little down without good reason.  Like I’ve said before the closest fix I’ve got for a mood like this is to simply count my blessings.  So this will be another one of those gratitude posts!

I am grateful for Mark and how much he loves the girls and me.  It meant so much that he went with me to take them to their first day of school.  I love that he said to me while in Bella’s kindergarten classroom “Let’s just stay until the teacher starts kicking the parents out.”  I reminded him that I was a teacher and I know from experience that the teacher does not want to have to kick us out.  But it felt good that he said it and that leaving his little ones at school on their first days touched his heart in that way.  (I was also the one to pull him away from Callee’s school’s playground.)

I am grateful for spending a few hours with the ladies in my women’s group last weekend.  I am so lucky to know all of them and am just in awe of their talents.  I had been thinking a lot recently about taking a dance class and sure enough we talked a great deal about Jenny’s tremendous dancing skills and the various classes available in town.  I even discovered there is a studio here that offers pole dancing classes (which I totally want to do after reading Lissa Rankin’s post…the one I linked to yesterday).  I am also looking forward to Kamala’s upcoming workshop on healing.  I can’t wait to get a dose of all that she has been learning through her travels and studies this past year.

I am grateful that this first week of school has gone smoothly.  I am so pleased that we live in walking distance to Bella’s school.  I might have had a completely different reaction to the first day if I had had to wait in a car line or put her on a school bus.  It is very comforting to be this close and the exercise I’m getting walking an extra 2 miles a day certainly is appreciated.

Finally, I am grateful for the way my world is expanding.  It is quite amazing how blogging and tweeting has opened up so many doors and invited new people into my life.  I chatted today with a fellow writer in India and bought a book on Tuesday to send to my new friend in Texas.  I connected with someone else in Virginia and may have just gotten my first official writing gig.

Like always, I could go on and on, but I won’t.  It seems this was just enough to get me feeling better.  Life truly is good.  Someone replied to a blog post I wrote today and said “Ain’t it fun to be on this trip?”  When I first read the question I hesitated for a second, but then realized it was just the reminder I needed.  Yes it is fun!

For the sake of fun, laughter, and needing to be cheered up…here’s a pretty funny video but probably NSFW since a thong wearing woman makes an appearance (if you’re at work and can’t watch it, come back later for the laugh.)