Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Regulating Those Pesky Emotions

I was in discussion yesterday with some people in my life about emotions and depression, life-choices and medications.  Not surprisingly, we all had different opinions.  The one thing we all agreed upon was the goal of a personal sense of peace. 

Notice I didn't say happiness.

A few years ago my dear therapist told me that he didn't believe in purporting the idea of happiness to his clients.  He didn't really believe in it himself.  Yes, he believed that life can hold many moments of joy, but his goal was for his clients to learn to feel peace.

My last blog posting (months ago, so sorry) was about clutter and finding which objects in my life created a sense of joy.  I started with my clothing and, to be honest, it's as far as I have gotten with this project.  (Next will be my books.  Yeah.  It's gonna be a challenge.)

I was disturbed to discover that while I was able to acknowledge which clothing items I really liked or disliked, I can't honestly say that any of them actually incited feelings of joy when I held them, which is to be the deciding factor in what is kept and what is let go.

Now, months later, my closet brings me joy.  No longer is it cluttered with too many clothes or boxes of decorations or other things I didn't know where to put so I put them in there.  It's a gorgeous space and I am happy to say that it has remained this way since I finished it.  In fact, my closet makes me so happy that I am loathe to add anything to it that just doesn't "fit" my lifestyle.  I don't even want to keep my vacuum in there any longer.  (It's currently living under my bed, but I don't like that either.)

So.  Back to the conversation of peace, joy and happiness. 

I am currently listening to the audiobook of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.  I know, I know, this book was all the rage decades ago but for personal reasons, I decided to give it a try.  (Another try, I might clarify, as I had picked up the book years ago, became impatient, and got rid of it.) 

Something the author talks about is the emotional "well" that women have.  Supposedly, we women go down into the well cyclically and aren't really able to bounce back out until we have hit the bottom. 

My emotions got pretty wound up today, as I had a couple of conversations with some folks that brought up feelings of fear and pain.  Quite a few important issues I am currently facing are in the hands of other people and being able to trust in the "bigger picture" spiritually is a moment-by-moment quest for me.

So after speaking my thoughts (in quite an emotional manner, I must admit) to a person who was unable to hear me in a compassionate manner today, and sitting in quiet and tense sadness as I navigated my way to solitude, I found myself with a few hours to kill before my next commitment. 

I decided against reaching out to my support system folks, which is blessedly large and wonderful group, I am happy to report.  Instead I knew that I needed to heed the call of quiet "me" time. 

I stopped into a new shop in town.  I've been curious about it for a little while and wanted to see what they were selling.  They were a bit high priced for me at the moment in my gift-shopping for the Holidays zone, but they also doubled as a spa.  I decided to get my eye-brows done.

My eye-brows are a monthly commitment.  I am truly a hairy beast if I don't take care of them and, not to seem vain, my self-esteem struggles when my eyebrows are a mess. 

As soon as I laid down on the clean spa bed, I felt a sense of calm.  Although getting hot wax put on my face and having it ripped off isn't the most pleasant of feelings, having someone "care" for me, however impersonal, makes me feel good.  And she did a nice job.  I walked out of there with my spirits lifted a bit. 

Next I drove down the little Main street of my town to see what else might be open and perusable.  I found another new shop, as recommended by the esthetician who had just made me presentable, and had a good look around there as well.  More cute stuff a little beyond my "lots of gifts to buy for the holidays" price range but I was glad to go in and meet the staff and connect with my town.

A few doors down, one of my favorite eclectic shops was open.  Great clothes, fun art, and a little splash of one of my favorite scents brought me to my sparkly self again.  I walked out of there without spending any money, but got a couple ideas of things that might be good for some of my soul sisters.  I let my feet take me around the block as I looked into the windows of more shops.  Some were open, but most were closed at this time of evening.  It didn't matter. 

In my personal bible of self-fulfilling happiness, Simple Abundance,  author Breathnach suggests just going into stores and acknowledging what calls out to you.  No need to buy.  No need to feel a sense of lack from not purchasing.  Just seeing what one likes can be food for the spirit.  For me, it did the trick. 

What I know is that this world is full of options.  Most importantly is the option to allow oneself to FEEL what one needs to feel at that moment.  Once we acknowledge ourselves without judgment, or as little as possible, we are then faced with the choice of what to do next. 

I knew I was in a state of overwhelm earlier in the day.  Not a huge deal, but I was diving down into my "well".  What I knew for ME was that I needed space to be in my own head and to make my own decisions for a little bit.  Good call.  I got my mojo back and nobody got hurt.  LOL.

Thanks for listening. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Joyful (or not) Clothing Choices

I could have sworn that I had already blogged about the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.  You know, it's that book that took the best-seller list by storm last year?  The whole idea of taking a few months and physically touching each and every one of our possessions to see if they "spark joy"?  But as I searched and scrolled through my past posts, I saw nothing.  I guess I've just been writing it in my head.  Ha ha.

About a year ago, Rev Guy mentioned this book in a Sunday talk.  He said that when his girlfriend is out of town, he gets messy; lives like his house is a garage sale waiting to happen.  He then talked about Kondo's book and how it was an interesting read.  (As usual, when he mentions a book, I pay attention.  He has also turned me onto movies and shows.  I like to know what he's talking about so I often read/watch his recommendations so that I can be on the "same page" with him more often.)

Clutter and organization is an obsession for me.  I am a clutter-bug and I often fantasize about being organized.  Living in a space with things piling up and undone tasks causes me stress and anxiety.
Sometimes there's a lot of stuff . . . and a lot of anxiety going on in my life.

So I read the book.  I listened to it on audio.  I am currently reading her second book, Spark Joy, an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up.  What I wasn't doing was the hands-on work.

Kondo's basic premise is that learning to recognize what "sparks joy" in our lives helps us to live deeper and more meaningful lives.  It is no secret that most of us are out of touch with our intuition. Our society values common-sense over feelings, especially ones that don't seem logic-based.

The problem is that when we're out of balance, we aren't able to find the joy.  And who doesn't want more joy???

So during the last school year, I told myself that I would start the process of touching and deciding what to keep and what to let go during the summer break.  And then all of this summer break, I've been thinking, "I really need to start that process!"  (I go back to work very shortly.)

 A few weeks ago, I had some friends coming over for dinner.  They hadn't been here yet and I wanted to show them my living space.

I love my living space.  But there's a lot of stuff in here.  Too much.  And there were some boxes and baskets of clothing that I hadn't put away in a LONG time.  My excuse?  I needed to go through them and find space for them.

So on the day of the visit, I put in a few hours, went through all of those piled items of clothing, gratefully put a lot in a bag to donate, and tucked the rest into the closet.  I knew this was cheating. Kondo's system says that we need to take ALL of our clothes and dump them in a big pile.  In this manner we can "see what we've done", not necessarily as a way to punish ourselves for having too much, but to really see what we have.  Put all the items in one space, pick them up one by one, decide how they make us feel, and then keep only what sparks the joy.  Intimidating to say the least.

About 10 minutes after stuffing all the clothing into my closet and feeling good about my living space, I heard a crash from inside the closet.  One of the overburdened shelves that had a hanging rod attached to it had pulled out of the wall, causing a domino effect and now there was a huge mess on the floor.  Sometimes the universe is NOT subtle.  I really needed to face my clothing.

The leaning and partially detached shelf and clothing bracket.

I have a lot of clothing.  I don't spend much on new things, but am the queen of hand-me-downs and freebies.  I like that I don't have to do laundry all the time.  I love having a lot of different outfits and options.
I am a changeling and there many sides to my personality.  Sometimes I like dress conservatively, and sometimes I like to be wild.  Sometimes I am doing "mom" stuff or "work stuff" and sometimes I'm going to be on stage or the dance floor.

But I am an avoider.   Sometimes it takes me hours and hours to do a task that could be done in 1/4 of the time, because I get bored, distracted or just don't want to deal with stuff for awhile. I need a real reason/motivation to get stuff done.  Having a party in the barn for my birthday caused me to finally finish getting all my stuff up from the barn floor, organized and labeled into bins and up into the loft. I was VERY careful to not just put stuff up there to be gone through later.  Seriously.  I am proud of the work I did.  The bins are numerically labeled and I have a master list so I know where which of my items are.  I can do a good job, once I get started, I promise.

So back to the closet mess.  I bought new brackets.  My sweet roommate re-installed them, without talking too much smack, and now I am off to the races.

Today I started with my coats and jackets.  The ones I love without a doubt are now going back in my closet.  The ones I'm not so sure of are in a separate pile.  And the ones I am finished with are in a bag to be donated.  (Kondo suggests that we say "Thank you" to the items that no longer serve us.  I have been doing this for a few months.  It somehow feels better to get rid of stuff with gratitude than with stress and guilt for having had the items in the first place.)

So I started putting away the jackets and wanted to get side-tracked by the scarves.  Then I wanted to go through my old prom dresses.  (Seriously.  I still have them all, even though I graduated in 1989!) But I resisted.

Instead, I sat down to blog about this process.  I find that holding myself accountable with witnesses is a huge motivator for me, like when I blogged the 40 days of personal Lent last year.  Knowing that family and friends may read this, chuckle a little, shake a head or two or just empathize with my plight gives me the power to push on through.  Plus it was a good way to avoid the task at hand.

Thanks for listening.  Stay tuned . . . I'm far from finished.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

About Writing a Blog . . . For the Students in Mr. Nielsen's Class . . .

A blog is an online way for a person to share their thoughts on anything that they want to talk about.  

A person who blogs is called . . . a blogger!

When you are finished with your assignment for Mr. Nielsen, you will be a blogger, too!

I started blogging 6 years ago.  I wanted to share my thoughts and opinions on books I read, movies I saw and experiences I had. 

After awhile, people started following me.  I post links to my blog on Facebook and it is fun to read people's reactions to the things I write about.  

I really like to blog because writing is different from speaking. When I blog, I take the time to read and re-read my words.  I have the ability to change anything I'd like.  When I am speaking and make a mistake or want to change something, it's more difficult because because someone else has already heard my words. Blogging gives me more space to say what I really want to say.

You have been assigned the 20% Project.  Mr. Nielsen wants you to pick a topic you are interested in researching and writing about. 

When you are finished, you will post your information online on your very own blog!

Do you want to pick "how to do something" 
 "learn about something new"?  

The choice is yours!

Today I am going to show you an example of a blog that shows the reader how to do something. 

I am going to show you how to start your very own blog!

Ready??  Go!

Once you log onto a computer, go to  
It will ask you to sign into Google.  You will use your student account which is your id # followed by  

Next it will ask you to pick a profile.  Pick: Blogger Profile.

Next, pick your display name.   Pick something with your name in it.  

When you get the option, pick and click the "New Blog" button and then pick a Title for your blog.  Mine is "Judy's Ramblings".  

You are also given the choice for a template.  A template is a website that is already formatted with a certain layout.  I suggest you start with the one titled "Simple".  It will also ask you to create a web address so that your blog can be found online.  Just start typing in the address bar under the title and it will give suggestions.  

Pick one that you like. 
Remember it.  
Write it down.  

Click on "Create blog!"  
Next it might suggest that you find a domain name for your blog.  
Click "no thanks".  

Now you're ready to create a "New Post"!  
This is like chapter one of your own Blog.

Click on "New Post" and start typing!!!  

You can title this post whatever you'd like to.  
The name of this posting by me is called is "About Writing a Blog . . . For the Students in Mr. Nielsen's Class".

As you do research on your topic, you can add pictures to make your blog more interesting.  To do this, you save the picture to your computer and then upload it.  We will show you how to do this! 

Here is a picture I uploaded:

This is my dad.  He took a trip last month to a museum of a musician he likes.  He sent me this picture.  I saved it to my computer and uploaded it and now anyone who reads my blog can see it.

You can also add website links so that your readers can click and find out more online about your topic.

Here is what it looks like to have a link on your blog page:

(I picked the Fallbrook High School website as an example.)

The cool thing about blogging is that you can work on stuff and wait to publish it online when you're ready.  You can change and edit your post until it shows exactly what you want it to show.   The blog will automatically save, but you also have the option to click on the "save" button for quicker saving of your work.  

You can also click "Preview", which shows you what it will look like if you posted it exactly how it is right now.  

It won't show up online to anyone else until you click "Publish".  If you publish and want to change something, you can go back in and make the changes and they'll show up online after you update it.  

It's real important that you keep track of the research you do for this project.  Write about it in your blog so that your teacher and classmates can learn about your process.  

Some students have created blogs and have added to them over the years!  The sky is the limit!  

Monday, February 29, 2016

70 x 7

It is said that we don't really know what we're missing until we've gotten a glimpse of it.

For me, it's been peace.  I had no idea how "on edge" I've been for most of my life.

Worry has been a constant since childhood and I didn't even know it.

Now that mindfulness, the practice of being more aware of one's thoughts and feelings moment by moment, has become a more conscious experience for me, I am noticing when the peace has landed, like a lovely guest, on my doorstep.  It's been coming around more and more these days.

A little over a month ago I was in a frantic and emotional phone conversation with one of my favorite spiritual leaders.  He interrupted my flow of complaint with a prayer suggestion.  My feelings felt hurt as I didn't feel my angst and terror was being acknowledged satisfactorily, but I became quiet and asked him to repeat himself so I could write it down.

I am familiar with the "Fear to Faith" prayer work that is promoted quite often in the classes I've taken through my local Center for Spiritual Living.  The idea is that when there is something heavy on our hearts or minds, we can follow the pathway of our beliefs until we find something incongruent with our vision of God.  We then release the belief, through repetitive chanting/prayer, along with whichever action we may have been exhibiting in support of that negative belief.  The work/prayer/chang is three-part, ending with  gratitude for a trait that better represents a supportive one.

Here is an example from my own life:

"I release the belief that I am powerless.  I release the need to be rescued.  I am grateful that God is the strength that I am."

(This is essentially the prayer that was suggested to me back when I was miserable and shaking and didn't really want to do my own work.  I eventually substituted the word "strength" instead of repeating the word "power" as was the original suggestion.

So, the 70 x 7 part comes in when one repeats the prayer 70 times for 7 days.  The idea is that with focus and repetition we are able to dislodge old thinking patterns and open up to new and more supportive thoughts and behaviors.

I gotta admit, when this concept was first "assigned" to me during a class quite a few years ago, I had a lot of resistance.  I tried using prayer beads to keep track of how many times I'd said the prayer and sometimes did it walking just to make it more interesting and get rid of some excess nervous energy. Other times I'd sit in my old blue chair in the dining room and say it silently or quietly to myself.

So backtrack to that day when I just wanted someone to fix my life for me and make the yucky go away and instead I was alone in my room, feeling terribly sorry for myself, and now I had committed to seven days of repetitive prayer.

To help keep track of the amount of times I said the prayer, I gathered 70 items and put them in a large storage lid.  Most of them were rocks and stones, with a few other natural items (a small twig, an acorn), plus a few man-made items such as some small, red plastic hearts and a cool wooden boar statue on a short string with a bell, a long-ago gift from my father who lives in Japan.

I wrote the prayer on a 3x5 card and put it in the middle of the lid, picked up the first rock, and got started.  I was very distracted and distressed.  It took me over 30 minutes to get through the prayer.  I did feel a little calmer at the end of it, though, although my feelings were still hurt for a variety of reasons, and I had some resentment and anger towards various people (and yeah, towards myself as well).

Adding body movement is a good way to incorporate change into our consciousness, so moving the left hand out and open while saying the first part, moving the right hand out and open when saying the second part, and bringing one's hands up and to oneself during the third part is suggested.  I did this with the rocks and stuff, one at a time.  Sometimes I had my eyes closed, other times I had them open.  Over time I became more aware of the texture of each item.  I found I really enjoyed the feel of some over others.

I kept on with it for almost two weeks.  Over time I swapped out some of the rocks for other beautiful stones that I have, of various sizes, colors, textures and shapes.

I also symbolically released a few stones that were representing a relationship from my past that still had some unresolved issues between me and an old friend.  (She had given me, a few years ago, a metal candle holder upon which she had glue-gunned various black stones.  She had made quite a few of these as teacher gifts for her children and I was very pleased when she gave me one.  Over the years, the stones had come off the metal plate but I had kept them.  Since they often had glue on one side, it was easy to keep track.)  (She and I had a falling out almost two years ago and now, although we never formally resolved anything, I have a  peace that comes from time and space from the situation.)  I took most of these glue-marked stones and threw them, with awareness, over the side of various parts of the property where I live.  No need to be constantly reminded of unhappiness.  (I still have a couple of those rocks left.  Healing is still being done between us.)

At the end of two weeks of the prayer, I was feeling a little more "in control" of my own destiny and the drama of my personal life had calmed a little.  I decided to keep up the 70 x 7 prayer but change it up a little.  (By this time, the prayer was taking me only about 12 minutes a day and I felt GOOD after doing the work.)

Next prayer:  "I release the belief that I am flawed. I release the need to be punished.  I am grateful that God is the Healing that I am."  This prayer felt powerful to me and cut right to the chase of some of my old issues.  I had been holding on to a deep-seated belief that I deserved punishment and should expect it. It was and has been interesting to look into this on a more regular basis.

One of the cool things about repetition is that the message or action starts coming "unbidden" to one's consciousness throughout the day, seeping into the edges and gracefully taking the place of old messages. Associating one of these prayers when my mind fills with worry or anxiety is a way to derail the panic and nervousness that life can sometimes bring, substituting it instead with a sense of "alrightness".

I haven't used the prayer rocks in over a week but they are still in the lid, on the floor of my beautiful and peaceful room, reminding me that at any time, I can do some more work on myself.

Acknowledge, release, acknowledge, release, acknowledge, keep.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, January 1, 2016

NY EVE 2015

Hey there.

I've been writing in my head for a few days now.
Let's see how it comes out on the screen.

I started this post in the evening on 12/31/2015 when, for the first time in my entire life,
I found myself voluntarily celebrating the incoming new year solo.

Later, with only 46 minutes to go until midnight,   .
I continued learning how to be alone with myself.  

Having been in relationships for over half of of my life, this is a whole new experience.

It's almost amusing how my brain and emotions ping-pong all over the place.
Sometimes it's a little frightening.
Without the distraction of others, I have only myself to listen and respond to.

About 18 months ago, my therapist suggested I live with aloneness for awhile.
Feel the fear
Hear the loud, internal voices.
Accept feeling grumpy or pissy with no one to blame.
Make mistakes, listen to me chastise myself, have mercy and move on.
Let joy come and stay for longer each time.
Just be myself and take care of business.

Today I claimed an "AT HOME" day because even though I had over two weeks off, I managed to drive somewhere every single day.

Not today.

My adventure in solitude started last night about 8 pm, when I found myself on my own with no social commitments, no phone calls to return; my own time on my hands.

I ate and puttered and lived in my head a bunch.  Loudly.

I made a drink of Honey Jack and fresh lime juice (yum) and watched the first two episodes of Game of Thrones Season 2 after I found the DVD in my laptop. Oops.

(I had returned the case to the Library a few days ago, so) I figured I might as well binge watch the two episodes on the disk and turn it in soon. Thrones isn't the best series I've watched, but it's stimulating and entertaining, if not uncomfortable at times.  It contains some beautiful people and since I only read book one, I'm not tied to how they do the show from this point on.

I met up with a friend at a local site and sang a Karoke song from my heart to strangers watching sports on tv.  I safely and responsibly drove myself home.

As a teen I often babysat on New Year's Eve.  These experiences were my first introduction to people celebrating this evening as something special.  My family didn't treat it as anything different. (The Rose Parade was what really counted in my childhood household., which reminds me that after I post this I need to checkout the link to see the FHS Marching Band as they perform in London tomorrow!)

My evening took an unexpected turn when CJ the dog hurled her dinner onto the wool carpet in the living room, right after eating.

She's a big dog and it was a big mess.

When she had the audacity to get territorial over the large mound of yuck and showed signs of
re-intaking the whole thing, I sent her outside while I grabbed cleaning supplies.

I got a little side-tracked as I looked for baking soda.  
I knew if I kept looking a box just might appear.
After revamping two cabinets, and writing "BUY BAKING SODA"  on the postie/grocery list, I found 1/4 box behind the spices in cabinet number 3.
I poured some over the damp carpet, and let will vacuum it up tomorrow.
Finger's crossed the carpet will look alright when it's all cleaned up.

In other news, I have been playing a little game in my head.  Whenever I get grumpy and want "someone else" to deal with what I don't want to, I ask myself what a fantasy counterpart would do in that particular situation for me to "make it all better".

This line of thinking has had some positive results, I must admit.
When in doubt of what to do next, I ask my inner girl what she would like done for her, then I often go ahead and do it for myself.

The big-ass tv that was just gifted to me and was sliding around the back seat of my car needed to come into the garage so I used an old dog bed and some calm maneuvering and got it in, setting it in a good and safe space.  I plan on sweet-talking some boys into bringing it upstairs and setting it up for me soon.

Next I cleaned out my car.  I had been feeling some  anxiety over its state of dirty-yucky..

I gained extra points with myself when I got the blockage out of the shop vac hose with a broken windshield wiper.

I persistently and calmly worked through the blockage, and solved the problem,

I walked away from the car cleaning project from time to time, but ended up touching every single item in the car before deciding what to return inside. I find I am better able to process and let go with gratitude since hearing the theories on decluttering from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

The car feels complete and I am grateful.

I experienced pleasure from this experience and allowed myself to feel appreciative and reward myself with no guilt or unease.

I even took a baby nap.

Today also marks the 25th anniversary of what would have been Erik and my's marriage, were we still together.  He is out with his girl tonight and I am blogging and puttering, sipping alternatively on water, coffee and may make myself another honey jack and lime.  I ate and watched Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief" and folded/put away laundry.  I watched all of its special features.

I am also living inside my head, and then focusing my thoughts outside of it.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.

It's been on my mind to post a little shout-out to my ex.

Eggy.  Thank you for the past 27 years together, 25 as a wedded couple.  I know that this evening is not what we would have said that we wanted if asked a few years ago, but I am feeling peaceful and grateful and hope that you are too.

I will never regret the years of gatherings and friends, meals and adventures, and here's to many more in both of our lives.

Thank you for introducing me to a whole lot of music that I probably wouldn't have heard otherwise.

Thank you for being a caring and compassionate person.
Thank you for being a lovingly kickass dad to our boy.
I appreciate you.
I wish you all the best.

It's good to be back in the writing saddle.
I hope to stay here awhile this time.

Thanks for listening and Happy New Year!