Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Today I wanted to wish everyone a happy Father's Day. I decided to re-post my Father's Day post from five years ago in 2007. These are some pictures of two fathers I love--my deceased father-in-law and my husband.

I am so grateful that I had a chance to have my relationship with my husband's father, who was truly a father to me. I had always wanted a close relationship with my biological father, but had never had one. When I married my husband, I got to have that fatherly-type relationship with his father. He taught me so much in seven short years. I felt like I got to see what other people were talking about when they would discuss their fathers--I got to experience what I'd missed and what every child (and adult) really wants deep down inside. This relationship also changed for me what I thought about God's love (since it had always been characterized to me as "fatherly" I was clueless) and opened up my spirituality to being something very positive and nurturing.

So even though he has passed, I think of him so fondly and with gratitude on Father's Day. Although I deeply miss him, I enjoy celebrating Father's Day so much now, as I have the beautiful memories that I continue to cherish!

So here is the post:



THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT MAN IN MY LIFE
MARCH 14, 2007


Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there! Today I am missing my dad, the first Father's Day without him (he died a few months ago), but he's with us in spirit---We Love You, Dad!



And a Happy Father's Day to Hubbie, who will get to be with our daughter this Father's Day. All of our children are adults, but rarely get to see their dad, so it is very special for us both.



I also felt moved to wish my estranged bio-dad a Happy Father's Day and to tell him I love him, which I do. I emailed him since I don't have his phone number. I doubt I'll hear back, but it felt good to do. I hope that all of you fathers and all of you who have fathers have a wonderful time celebrating, even if it is just in extending peaceful and loving thoughts.

Aloha,

Olivia

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sitting in Limbo

I have been incommunicado for almost a month now, mainly because of an as-of-yet undiagnosed foot ailment. It was misdiagnosed in February as plantar fasciitis (for which I've had extensive treatments of all types), and now it appears to be much more, involving other nerves and other connective tissue in my left foot.

After a sudden and alarming exacerbation of the pain, I went to the emergency room. Concerned that I had a stress fracture, they had me immobilize my foot in a boot for the last two weeks. I have had many people supporting me, driving me to and fro, pushing me in a wheelchair, helping me with basic tasks of daily living. In order to go to an appointment it is a big production, with even getting bathed and dressed being challenging when you can only stand on one foot.

I was trying to hold out for a visit to an orthopedic foot specialist in the nearest large metropolitan city, Seattle. Finally this past Friday I had another exacerbation and was concerned that I was making my foot worse by waiting. So I saw a local orthopedic surgeon who is going to get me an MRI next week; however, he has no idea what is wrong. Hopefully the MRI will tell him something helpful.

In the meantime I am going to start yet another course of prednisone. Steroids always make me confused and disoriented and emotional, definitely not myself. So I thought I'd pop this up while I am still clear-headed and make some sense.

I haven't walked outside since Feb 23rd and miss it so much! Our weather is beautiful here, after months of snow and the omnipresent winter and spring rain. Bad timing for a major foot injury.

It is a difficult place to be without a diagnosis. I find myself wondering when I will get better, often IF I will get better, and trying to remember what it felt like to move my body and to walk.

And I hope for a diagnosis soon, so that I can know what I'm dealing with.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

[WLE#3] Staying Well While Traveling

This is another post in my Well Lifestyle Experiment (WLE).

I am going on a trip this week and want to write this to share with you what I'm going to do to stay well and have a sense of supportive well-being while I'm gone.

One is taking along healthy foods. I am going to Dallas, where of course there is healthy food, but my focus is going to be on LoveHubbie's family and not on hunting down healthy foods. And of course I'll be on a plane, so you know what's available there. Here is some of what I'm taking:



Below: These Funky Monkey snacks are really cool organic dried fruits for those hypoglycemia emergencies (LoveHubbie is diabetic and I'm pre-diabetic):


Below: These Tanka Bars are made from buffalo's that are cared for by Native Americans in a proper way. They are a tasty healthy clean meat!


Below: These Organic Food Bars are mostly raw and gluten-free. They are made with superfoods as well.


Below: Some raw nuts that I have spouted, dehydrated, and bagged. I really like sprouting and dehydrating things, in general.

I forgot to take a picture (other than the large spread) of Steve's Paleo Kits. I am new to these and am taking them because I expect most of my meals to be on my own as opposed to in restaurants. I often get migraines while traveling in Texas so having foods without chemicals, preservatives, and most importantly---MSG---will be important to being able to enjoy the trip.

Another way of staying well is having ways of reminding myself of who I am. This is always necessary for me when I'm around people who either don't know me or who don't see me as I am. I always have an early morning quiet time to connect with my Higher Power and to remind me of what I hold to be true and value. Then in addition, I try to have phone contact with people I am close to as well, if I can. And literature that grounds me. Jewelry that reminds me of a central value or concept or of my theme for the visit. Here is some jewelry I'm taking with me:














Yet another way of staying well is having alone time. If I am in a hotel, I can do that easily. Otherwise, if I'm with family and friends, I get up earlier and have a quiet time first thing. It fuels me for the rest of the day. Also, if I need time alone during the day, I take it, even if it has to be in the bathroom or in the car alone. For introverts, having alone time is crucial--it definitely is so for me. 

Lastly, I ramp up my regular fasterEFT practice. fasterEFT is a type of acupressure work that involves tapping on certain meridians at the same time you are feeling strong feelings; it is a system that is a combination of regular EFT--Emotional Freedom Techniques, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), and hypnosis. I used regular EFT as a life coach in the past and when I practice again I plan to use fasterEFT. In the meantime, it is a type of emotional processing I use that helps to ground me. 

How do you maintain a well lifestyle while traveling?

Monday, May 7, 2012

[WLE#2] Lessons from Kikipotamus: Eat Smaller Meals

This is another post in my Well Lifestyle Experiment (WLE), and also another lesson I learned from my visit with Kelly.

Eating frequent, regular, small meals can feel so much better than a couple of large meals. Kelly and I ate three small meals plus snacks if needed while she was here. They were extremely high-quality food and tasty as well. Neither of us made a habit of going back for seconds. And I was satisfied! I didn't feel deprived or hungry between meals.

The Smarter Science of Slim is a research-based book about weight management via regulating blood glucose levels by food choices. Since I'm pre-diabetic, this book has been invaluable to me in summing up in one place everything I know and believe in about healthy eating, stuff I forget half the time, say, when I'm starving and getting ready to eat (more about this in a future post). It recommends that your meals be between 200-500 calories a day (but of foods that keep your blood sugar stable) and when I do both--eat small meals and carefully select their make-up--I feel fantastic.

Meals in restaurants are so huge compared to what my particular body actually needs. In addition, most of the people (not Kelly) that I ever eat with eat so much more than I do that I often feel odd just having a tiny meal. My biggest obstacles in following the "smaller meals" guidelines are:

(1) Fear I'll be hungry too soon.
So for this I take a "food bag" of healthy snacks with me wherever I go, so that if I accidentally eat too little, I will not get hypoglycemic. Or too hungry, which for me eventually leads to hypoglycemia. The trick is being hungry but not TOO hungry.

(2) Peer pressure.
Everyone else is eating a lot and I want to join in! Because it's FUN! That attitude isn't helpful for me and is one of the factors that has helped me to become almost 100 pounds overweight. I am learning that I can eat what my body needs and join in, having something healthy to drink as well, and not focus on the amounts. Other people may be able to handle larger amounts of food. Other people can also perhaps handle huge carb hits to their blood sugar. I cannot! Accepting this and honoring my individuality are going to be helpful for me in becoming healthier.

Have you ever tried eating small meals? Or do you eat them already? What are your challenges with this and what helpful things have you done?

Friday, May 4, 2012

[WLE#1] Lessons from Kikipotamus: Eat Simply

This is the first post in my Well Lifestyle Experiment (WLE), and also the first lesson I learned from my visit with Kelly.

Eating simply.

So obvious, you might think.

But it really isn't. And at first, it isn't the easiest thing to do. I'm more accustomed to opening packages than I am to preparing things from scratch, more used to the microwave than the stove. My palate no longer craves raw foods and green foods. I am ready to embrace eating simply again.

Eating simply can mean avoiding processed food and preparing simple, loving meals at home. Each meal is an opportunity to show yourself love and to express love for others, too. The preparation can be a time of mediation and creativity.





So much love went into the meals that Kelly and I shared, not just the deliberately planned and prepared simple meals like this one pictured here, but even the meals that took almost no time at all. When served and enjoyed in a slow, peaceful, mindful way, a meal can be an opportunity to reinforce self-love and caring instead of a necessary chore, a distraction, a guilt-ridden indulgence, or any of the myriad of other things that a meal might be.

So today I ask myself, "How might I make my meals simpler?" and "How might I show myself (and those I eat with) caring and love with what I prepare to eat?"




Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wellness Wednesday: Well Lifestyle Experiments, An Invitation!

Today on Wellness Wednesday I wanted to launch a new series here at the happyluau called "Well Lifestyle Experiments" (WLE). I invite each of you to join in! This series will focus on healthy lifestyle habits, healthy aging, well being, and experimenting with supportive habits. It is an EXPERIMENT--for me, for you. With each post, I'll focus on one thing that I want to experiment with and invite you to consider it too--of course modifying it to fit your unique lifestyle and way of being in the world. In the comments we can discuss this topic and share how it's working out for us as well.




The goal of Well Lifestyle Experiments for both of us will be to figure out which habits or ideas support the lifestyle we want and which ones we want to sustain and incorporate into who we are. And to encourage each other on our journeys to live healthier, feel better, think supportively, and be authentic. So if you are reading this, consider yourself invited!


I have a wealth of ideas to start with. Initially, I'm going to choose meaningful practices from several sources: 


(1) Lessons--incredible lessons--I learned from my visit with Kelly Kikipotamus the Hobo in March. 


(2) Ideas from friends who have embraced a well-being focus, like Kate Iredale


(3) The Radiant Goddess e-course that I am taking, along with my friends Lori-Lyn Hurley and Jessie Marianiello


(4) Stuff I read elsewhere, things that the Universe serendipitously brings my way. 


(5) Great ideas you mention to me in the comments that make me want to blog and share them with everyone, instead of leaving them semi-buried and away from the search engines. 


The cool thing is that as we are going along, helping each other, I'm thinking that others will find these posts and be inspired to create healthier lifestyles, maybe in just one small area--but every small step can make a really big difference over time! Many lives can be changed for the better. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Every Morning

I saw this on kate's blog and knew I had to share it here:



Even though it's been quiet at the happyluau lately, it's been an incubation time for me. More will be coming.

I think I need to watch this, as kate said, every morning. How about you?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sacred Life Sunday: Kikipotamus the Hobo's Visit Winds Up...And She Leaves the happyluau

Finally, just over a week since Kelly left, and I'm finally putting up the few photos I took. I also made a rather silly movie for OTV, but it was representative of the entire visit in that we were having fun doing ordinary things.

The pictures below are of the day Kelly made a special meal for me and LoveHubbie. There are many special memories of that day, including the love and concentration with which Kelly did all of the time-intensive preparations, the lessons I learned about keeping the energy good in my home, and the memories of a lovely meal and great conversation. LoveHubbie used his extensive barbecuing skills to grill our grass-fed steaks and added a special layer of happiness to the evening.















Here is the movie, which is 4:18 long:



This winds up my blogging about Kelly's visit. However, I want to blog a series next about lessons I learned while Kelly was here. Many of them are things we both learned about mindful eating and I'm excited to share them with you. I'm hoping that we can even practice some of them together--those of you who are interested--more about that soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wellness Wednesday: Kikipotamus the Hobo and the happyluau Eat Well!

So Kelly and I have been eating amazingly well while she has been here, partially due to Kelly's dietary resolve, and partially due to the easy availability of healthy organic fresh foods here in Olympia and in my kitchen. My eating habits have changed dramatically for the last three plus days and I feel great!

Instead of eating hurried meals of whatever I can grab (healthy, organic, but processed and quick), whenever I can grab it, we are eating meals on a regular schedule. Small meals. Simple meals. Mostly vegan-esque, because Kelly minimizes dairy and gluten and sugar and fatty meats. All of these choices are so good for me. But I also need a lot of protein and healthy fats, so we have been also eating clean meats and good fat sources (like ground up flax seeds).

Kelly is the first person who has visited me who has been excited that I have flax seeds and a dedicated grinder to add them fresh-ground to each meal. Most people think that is weird and kind of crazy. That kind of symbolizes a lot of how this visit has gone food-wise and otherwise, really.

Most people think that I am incredibly eccentric, especially in my food choices, often expressing disapproval. I typically have to modify my lifestyle a whole lot to make most visitors to my home  comfortable. Consequently hospitality can require a lot of planning and effort for me to take care of myself and I usually just forget about that in order to accommodate my guests. Of course, this is not the best idea but it's what I've usually done because I love it when people visit and would much rather take care of them than me. Not that it has to be a choice of course, but in the past, that's what I've done.

So Kelly's visiting has shown me what it could be like to live with someone with shared values and lifestyle--not identical, but similar enough for comfort delight.

Last night we ate out at my favorite restaurant. I had a dish called "Tails & Trotters Pork Ravioli" with wilted cabbage and fennel, roasted artichokes and lemon-vinagraitte asparagus. At first we thought that the "tails" might be a pig's tail or an ox's tail accompanied by some type of foot (like a pig's foot). Kelly asked the waiter and we discovered that this was a brand name, "Tails & Trotters". This is a company that treats their pigs quite well and feeds them hazelnuts only as part of the finishing process so that the delicate pork flavor is infused with hazelnut. I decided to order it and it was the best meal I have ever had there.

Kelly likes to eat slowly and quietly and mindfully and I do too. Unfortunately for her I am a chatterbox at meals because I enjoy so much having someone to eat with. Still, it has pushed me in the direction of eating more mindfully, which has been helpful to me...it is the direction I wish to move towards--not for all meals of course, because many meals clearly are social, but for solitary meals and certain meals with company. I see this as a life practice.

So I have been looking forward to each meal and ended it feeling filled but not full. Left feeling satisfied and nourished. During the day I have felt as though many of my social needs are being met and I do not feel at all interested in emotional eating at night; this is a profound change for me. I do think that the two are connected, a surprise to me as an introvert. I am certain that it is time for this introvert to branch out and seek more like-minded social connections.

So, I am wishing each of you an especially well Wednesday this week! I welcome all of your comments. I am especially interested in if and how you have any special rituals around eating that make this universal activity more meaningful to you.

PS. I have another post from earlier today catching you up a bit on Kelly and my activities...and there is more to come soon...the drums are beating at the happyluau!

Kikipotamus the Hobo and the happyluau--Catching You Up

It has been incredible having Kelly here. I hardly know where to begin in blogging about her visit. Right now she is having fun birding at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge which I have blogged about before here and here. We have plans to work on a joint blog post about this.

In the meantime, I am at my favorite coffee shop Mud Bay Cafe. It is a bit hard for me because I love to walk, but I honestly also love writing and reading in cafe-community too. I am "grounded" because I got another shot from my delightful podiatrist, Dr. Hess (I am including his picture because I like him so much). But I really don't like the shot in the foot. It's for plantar fasciitis and that is kind of nasty. It's especially discouraging to have all of this going on while Kelly is here. But we're going with the flow.

And honestly, I'm grateful for the shot and for having only plantar fasciitis--it could be something far more serious. I'm reminded of that when I see people with walkers and casts and crutches as I walk all on my own into Dr. Hess' office.

The weather has been cold and rainy and varied every day with everything from pelting rain to hail to snow to sun to drizzle. We have been going with the flow in this area too.

We are talking, playing games, eating very well, talking, resting, procuring and preparing food together, talking and doing quotidian tasks together. I find it so relaxing instead of rushing around all day to tourist sites and coming home exhausted.

More to come. Soon.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sacred Life Sunday: Kikipotamus the Hobo Comes to the happyluau



So it's true! Today Kikipotamus the Hobo (Kelly) is coming to visit me, all the way from Windsor, Ontario. I cannot wait. I have known Kelly since at least 2007 but just online, so it is the first time we'll meet. Fun will result!

It is not just fun, though; it means so much that Kelly would travel to spend time here in the woods with me. I treasure our friendship! It will make this Sunday sacred indeed. More to follow...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Summoning Up My Dream

In the last two days, a theme has repeated in my life and I've had an epiphany: I've been afraid to dream dreams--life dreams, hopes, visions--for a long time, maybe since I was a young woman. So I just stopped dreaming. I've been afraid to believe.

Then on Monday, Kate's birthday, Kate launched a giveaway for her new Safe Harbor Creativity Coaching practice. It's a huge giveaway of a month of coaching with her, and she is offering some cool specials as well. I was excited to enter. Part of the entry was to leave a comment about your creative dream, which also might be what you'd like to be coached about. I really had to think on that. I have problems and issues and am very aware of what they are--that's what I work on in therapy. But dreams--creative dreams? How long has it been since I've given myself permission to have those?

So I summoned up a dream and entered Kate's contest. I wasn't sure if it fit or not. I was surprised that I could come up with one and write it in the comment.

Then on Tuesday I was reviewing a new book by Danielle LaPorte from WhiteHotTruth.com. It hasn't come out yet (I'm reviewing an advance copy), but when it does this April, you should get it. It's called The Fire Starter Sessions. It is SO good! I was just in the introduction, and Danielle wrote about how important it is to commit to dreaming about your ideal life, to make it a regular life practice, refine it every day. I thought, "Whoa! What a difference from me? I had to think to even figure out what my dream might be! How could my life shift if I allowed myself to daily refine my dreams?"

The last tap from the Universe was Tuesday also when my therapist told me about a book she had been reading about the importance of rehearsing our dreams in our heads, suggesting that I may choose to do this. I knew for sure that this was a message I needed to incorporate into my life.

As if all of that wasn't enough, today, Wednesday, Cinner wrote a post about her dream. How our dreams can change morph as life changes us. I knew these messages were all for me.

Today I wrote my dream out. After sitting with its kernel from Kate's page for a couple of days, I expanded it a bit more and wrote:
My dream is to figure out a way to have the time, energy, and belief in myself to do the things I love as a creative career: art, writing, reading, and encouraging other people, probably as a life coach. (Note: I already am a certified life coach and have a master's degree as well, so this is a doable dream. The hardest part of this dream is the initial part!)

It took so much from me to admit this to myself. I haven't spent time dwelling on it or rehearsing it yet--more just allowing it, and letting myself dip my toe into the deep end of my imagination as I try it on for size.

What is your dream? Do you allow yourself to meditate on it daily?

Or are you already living your dream? I suspect that some of you are--I have seen this happen over and over in your lives. Please share.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The One Thing, The One Word

Today Oriah Mountain Dreamer had a wonderful quote related to imperfectioN on her Facebook page. It also dovetails with our themes--our words for 2012--this year. This is from one of her many great books, called "The Call":

"The call is about the finding the one thing you came here to say and saying it a thousand different ways- in your words, your actions, your choices- so you and the world can really hear it. It’s about finding the end of the one thread that glows luminescent for you and following it faithfully to the time and place- here and now- where you can weave it into the fabric of your life and so offer it to the world. It’s not about getting it right, not about living your word perfectly. It’s about coming into life-long relationship with the one word you long to know, the one word that seems at times to come so easily to others and yet has eluded you for most of your life. Out of our willingness to learn from our weakness, we develop a strength we can offer to others." ~ Oriah (c) 2003 from The Call


~Photo by Me of the field off our driveway one day long, long ago when the sun was shining

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today, Allow ImperfectiON



Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. 
~Anne Lamott in "Bird by Bird"

Today, allow imperfectiON and see how freeing it is! Does it free you up...or not? 


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sacred Sunday: Releasing Unforgiveness, Abusive Mothers, Prejudice

On Sundays I sometimes like to do personal work on issues that are troubling me. Today I went for a long walk and worked on releasing prejudice, unforgiveness, anger, and hurt. There was a lot more than I thought to process, but I felt better afterwards. Such big things will take a lot of work to fully let go of, I'm thinking, but I do feel like I made a lot of progress today.

The issues I worked on today had to do with mothers emotionally harming their children. I've changed the names for privacy.

The first mother I focused on is someone I'll call Nelly. I wrote about her last month in my post called Enemies. I want to release the negative feelings and judgments I have towards her. Nelly is a pious fundamentalist Christian mother who taught her children that God had enough people doing good for others; she wanted her family to work together to help God deliver his punishments to others. She set about doing this vigorously as a life mission--a judgment-based crusade with Nelly as The Judge. She included in her crusade her ex-husband, oblivious to the fact that this would cause her children to reject a part of themselves as they rejected their father.

Today I worked on forgiving Nelly, knowing that she would have to be stunted emotionally to consider such actions. I wouldn't expect someone who is so deeply emotionally developmentally disabled to be able to do more. At some level she probably loves her children. She may even have no idea what she is doing. If she ever does wake up and realize what she's done she may not even be able to handle it.

My part in this is that I am one of the people Nelly thinks deserves ongoing punishment for my sins, administered by her and her children. I worked on expressing anger towards Nelly first, then forgiving her. I worked towards trying to send blessings and healing energies her way.

Now as adults not all of the children still follow Nelly's ways, but some do. It hurts me to see this way of thinking passed down. I am powerless over all of it, though, and can only send love their way.


Next came Minnie. Minnie is a very self-righteous woman, someone I grew up with and cared greatly about. Minnie and Nelly share a worldview in that they are both fundamentalist Christians. Minnie thought that it would be better to alienate her children from people who didn't have "Christian lifestyles" that measured up to Minnie's standards. This would protect them, she thought.

I was one of those people that didn't measure up in Minnie's mind. At that time I was a Christian, but just not the right kind. So Minnie made sure that her children had no contact with me. I disagreed with this and it hurt, especially since I was related to Minnie and her children.

Now as I try to forgive Minnie, I can see that her intentions were good. She was trying to protect her children from someone with dangerous ideas (any ideas that were different from hers) and with ways of being in the world that were threatening to her worldview.  I experienced a lot of hurt and sadness as a result of her actions, and continue to experience it even now because Minnie's adult children continue in her lifestyle as adults.

I followed the same process here: first anger, then feelings of sadness for the loss of relationship, trying to establish some empathy, forgiveness, then sending love.


Then came Queenie. Queenie is a mother who tries to control her children and everyone else. She also is a Christian, therefore many things are done because it seems to her that this is the way God wants it. She did some things to one of my family members that tore their family apart, and caused them to lose custody of their children because she lied. Queenie is a really hard person for me to forgive. I have a thing about lying, and really struggle...

Anyway, she has nothing in particular against me; it's just that if you don't let her run your life, you'll be very sorry. She bullies people into doing what she wants.

More of the same here for me: releasing resentment, forgiveness for so many things, struggling to send goodness her way.

Empathy helps. I have never done this type of thing to anyone, but if I really felt like I had to have control to the point that I would die or implode, I might. We are all capable of anything, I believe, given the right past, the right experiences, etc. I don't believe that I'm any better of a person than Queenie--or for that matter, than Nelly or Minnie. I just have had a different past and am a different person.

Then I focused on my own mother. She was verbally and physically abusive to us. I went through the same process with her because it just felt like I needed to. This is probably why I feel so keenly about mothers who hurt their children--because it happened to me.

Even though she hurt her children deeply, I'm sure she didn't want to. I'm sure she would feel devastated to know the damage she did. I remember her crying each time afterwards, telling me how much she loved me and how sorry she was. What a life to live--to beat and verbally abuse your children--to hate yourself, and then get up the next day and do it all over again.

When you are abused and you survive and you still love your parent, it shows you that you are strong enough to make it through, and that you have an amazing ability to love. I don't know that I have much love left for my mother (mostly just relief that she is gone--she died over 30 years ago) but I don't hate her anymore, which I think is a good thing. I know that she did many good things for us and did the best she could.

Lastly, I thought about another mother I know who I'll call Bunnie. I had a long conversation with Bunnie this week, and she is a different kind of mother than the ladies above. Bunnie loves her children--really loves her children. She had a difficult upbringing, but had a mother who truly showed her all the love she possibly could. She told her every day that she was special and made her feel loved and valued. Bunnie was truly mothered.

Bunnie has taken a different approach to raising her children. Instead of "protecting" them from family members with different beliefs, instead of lying to them to alienate them from people she disagrees with, instead of manipulating people to try to control her children's experiences, instead of insulating them from life with religious beliefs--she has loved them. She's had integrity in how she has cared for her children.

But she learned how to love from her mother. She was taught well. Nelly, Minnie, Queenie, my mother--none of them had that. All of them were repeating what they knew and trying so hard to get it right.

Understanding this, putting all of this in perspective really helped me in being able to forgive. Of course, I'm not done yet--this is a process that will take a long time, but I feel freer, as though I've made an excellent start.

Today's work also helped me to release prejudice towards fundamentalist Christians. I've written about this before. This is something I really need to deal with. All Christians are not like Nelly, Minnie, and Queenie. People like these three ladies are attracted to all kinds of groups and spiritual systems that can make them feel good about their actions; fundamentalist Christianity just happened to be the one they picked.

I used to be a fundamentalist Christian, and I was really doing the best I could. I wanted to be a loving person. I couldn't see that judgment and unforgiveness had no place in Christianity. We called it "discernment". We thought we were right. We thought we were righteous. We would project our feelings onto others--all of them that we had no room for--which were quite a few of them. The feelings that we did have, we were told never, ever, ever to trust. Still, there is no basis for me to judge a whole group of people based upon my bad experiences and my experiences with these mothers. They could have picked another kind of group and achieved the same results; it just was easy to pick Christianity because it was there.

Not sure why I wanted to share this all with you, but I did. I hope that there is something to be gleaned from it. I hope that perhaps I might inspire you to forgive those you want to forgive. Or maybe you have some prejudice against some group of people that you want to release. Or maybe it's just to validate that you are a mother who really loves her children, like Bunnie, and is not too emotionally developmentally disabled to show it. Maybe it's to be grateful that you are the person you are, someone not trapped in some weird psychological knot that causes you to act out in destructive ways and hurt those around you. Maybe it's to show more empathy to those people you know who are trapped.

Thank you for listening today, Sacred Sunday, xoO

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Post-Valentine's Day Reflections

Oh, so many of you shared such helpful things with me after my Valentine's Day post! Thank you for sharing with me how you see Valentine's Day. I wanted to summarize and highlight parts of your comments that really helped me here, not just in the comments, because really they are so good that they warrant a separate post. I did put some personal notes in the comments for each of you too though :)



Many of your eschew the cultural and materialistic demands of the holiday. It was interesting to me that this is true of people with good, strong marriages.

kate shared about some of the energetic factors involved; she wrote that when we stop needing something, stop striving with a strong attachment, then in some way we release the resistance and what we want can slip into our lives easily, naturally.

kate also wrote that it is unkind to oneself to allow our minds to entertain painful thoughts--things that cannot be changed or controlled. It is sort of an invited misery, as I see it. kate writes that it is hard work to practice self-love and self-kindness with the mind but it is worth it.

Angie shared how she and her husband have created their own way to commemorate their love by celebrating their first date instead of Valentine's Day. It's not as busy of a time and there are no long lines to compete with.

Patti lives the themes of the love celebrated at Valentine's Day all year long. She and her husband let each other know throughout the year, especially in simple ways, that they love each other. He doesn't like the commercialism of Valentine's Day at all. She shared a story of an elderly couple's love and how moving it was--I find that the most moving love story of all--a story of love that has endured through years of life's trials.

Kristine wrote her feelings about Valentine's Day on her blog and linked to it. She wrote about how competitive it can sometimes be and how she focuses on sharing love in general with everyone. I know that many of you do this. Love For All. I am going to definitely focus on this next Valentine's Day and be open to love wherever I find it and wherever I can give it in 2013. She also shared some memories she called cheesy, but that I think are super-cool. Demonstrations of love--I'll take all of them--no matter how expressed! I love what she wrote: "Every day offers the chance to love extravagantly." So very true! She also shared a link to this good-good-good Valentine's Day story--everyone go there--you'll love it!

Lori-Lyn wrote about how she can now enjoy Valentine's Day without wistful longing because of a relationship with her higher power. Even though I wrote about this in my post, I so quickly forget and let myself be taken back to be mired in thoughts of intense and painful longing. She also brought up that it's okay to have things be both/and--to be bittersweet. We don't always have to be one thing or the other.

Mary wrote about how it's challenging to get our self-love and love from a higher power to the degree that we don't feel that we need it from other's at time. I agree and feel as though I am just beginning on this journey. She and her husband, as many of the strong marriages of my friends, celebrate but don't need anything in particular as they already know that they love each other. This is a good place to be in.

Karen wrote about the support, loyalty and respect that her husband extends to her throughout the year, thus not requiring extravagant displays on a particular day. Isn't this what love really is---and how can there be love without them. Without support? Without loyalty? Without respect?



I have learned so much from all of you. I am so glad I posted that post because without it I would have not learned so much from the shared wisdom of each of you. Thank you my friends, for how you bless me on Valentine's Day and every day! xoO

~jpeg from thecoloringspot.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Want to Go To Green Mountain

I am going to write a post about the wonderful comments you wrote on my Valentine's Day post and what I learned---so check back soon!

Instead, tonight I wanted to share with you a post about why I want to win Karen C.L. Anderson's big Giveaway for a trip to Green Mountain at Fox Run. Tomorrow (Feb 16th) is the last day to enter, so if you are interested, enter right now! Anyway, here is the essay I wrote about why I want to win:

"I think that self-love, self-acceptance, self-validation--the lack of these are the roots of my almost half-century of disordered eating. I have tried numerous other ways to approach my relationship with food and none have been helpful in any long-lasting or real way. Of all of the ways I have tried, constant dieting and food restriction has been the most destructive.
I have resonated with the work of Geneen Roth and Mary O’Malley on compulsive overeating. I have tried to apply their processes with varying degrees of success at different times in my life. I do believe that they have the answer, and I need to work with myself to learn to become skillful and mindful in the way I eat. Although I’ve read widely on self-acceptance, mindful eating, and intuitive eating, so many questions remain. I think that there are many things I need to discover for myself and many things that I can only experience with others. 
I enjoyed re-reading Karen’s posts about her Green Mountain experience and have a couple of reflections: 
Karen included in one post a quote from Darla Breckenridge: "Abusing food cuts our heads off from our bodies.” I think that this disconnection is what I’ve wanted somehow, or at least not minded. Unfortunately, it is also the reason I avoid yoga and meditation and most activities that involve my body--because the body becomes one with the mind and heart, and for me this still feels like too much to bear. But yet I want to go there…
I would so like to reconnect my head to my body, even though I also fear it! I know that I have been stuck in a destructive cycle of self-loathing for most of my life. I know that a childhood of physical and verbal abuse as well as abusive adult relationships have affected my ability to be whole. I am at last working towards reparenting myself, learning to value myself, and finding love, acknowledgement, and safety--especially from myself. 
I would see my time at Green Mountain as a chance to focus on applying what I know in a safe, supportive environment with others on the same journey as I am. I can actually practice there with support. I would love to take the classes and take the time to look within to find answers to my questions."
It's easy to enter the Giveaway, and the winner is chosen at random based on entries, so you don't need to write the best essay. I spent some time on this and posted it because I wanted to be clear about where I am currently with my problem with emotional eating. And of course, because I would be sharing it with you. Karen has links on her blog to several posts she wrote about it if you want to find out more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day--How Do You See It? I Want to Know!

Here are two beautiful Valentines from two of my friends:

(1) From kate
This is the key, isn't it? To so many things...maybe to everything...

(2) From Lori-Lyn
So much love, as always, from Lori-Lyn.

These made me feel so loved! Many of you also had special blog posts for today. I celebrated too for those of you with "traditional" Valentine celebrations with your mates.

Are you like me? I love the valentines, so much. There is a part of me that still longs for the "traditional" valentine, and I wonder why?

My belief is that the Greatest Love that we need to find and cultivate in this life is love for ourself and love from our spiritual Beloved--these overlap in a mystical way that I do not yet understand. I would say I'm only beginning to realize and celebrate this Greatest Love

So that's the consciously held belief. Then there is the yearning, and the yearning fights with the belief. I want the hearts and flowers. I want the romantic dinner out at the lovely restaurant. I just want to be someone's special Valentine. I think I've wanted that forever. Maybe that is promoted by my cultural upbringing, Hollywood, etc. Or maybe it is some romantic flaw I have that is due to some odd personality weakness. I don't know. I just know that this is how I am, for whatever reason.

Valentine's Day is yet another holiday that I try to make into something meaningful, and succeed to some extent. I still struggle with feelings of being left out, though, as though like everything else, it's for other people but not for me. I feel that way about Easter and Christmas too. I wonder if it will always be this way.

How about you? Are you a slave to our culture's expectations for Valentine's Day? Do you truly find fulfillment in self-love and love from your Higher Power? Love from family and friends? Or do you yearn for a special and particular romantic love from someone? What are your thoughts? Is anyone else writing/talking about this?

Let me know, xoO

Monday, February 13, 2012

Just Needed a Laugh Today

After having gastroenteritis for a week, I now have that virus-thing that's going around with the dry cough, sore throat, moving to painful lungs and hacking, then continuing on to basic flu-like symptoms. I needed a laugh. Here is something from Ellen DeGeneres that is short but hopefully will make you smile too:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sacred Life Sunday: Fragility

Today Oriah Mountain Dreamer had a few words to share on her Facebook page about the passing of Whitney Houston yesterday. She wrote:

"Read about the passing of Whitney Houston. The article I read said this: "She had the perfect voice, and the perfect image: A gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise." Could not help but think- "Death by perfection." Perfectionism tears at wholeness, leaves no room for the humanness. That kind of projection can kill a person. Just terribly sad."

"Death by perfection"--it's something to think about. What pressure must Whitney Houston have had upon her to be the perfect singer, the perfect mother, to have the perfect marriage? Perfection and striving are deadly indeed, but this is something that I didn't learn for a long, long time. I feel grateful and fortunate to know this now, privileged to be able to explore it here, and very, very sad for Whitney Houston and her family.

Life is so very short, and so fragile.



~Photo from Oriah Mountain Dreamer's post today on her FB page

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Goings On...Back Home


Thanks to all who wished my well after my bout with gastroenteritis. People are being hit like gangbusters with "sudden vomiting and diarrhea"...we had a cheerleading competition here in WA and the cheerleaders were smitten--not pretty.

I'm now back from Atlanta, and wanted to share a few pictures and movies of the snow here from the last few weeks with you. These are before the subsequent wind and ice storm, before all the damage was done, when things were still pretty. I hope that you enjoy them...

This is our back porch:



Here's our woodshed seen out of the bedroom window. Can you see the little towers of snow on the tops of the posts?



Here's my car covered in the snow:





You almost can't recognize the front of the house:


This is a 29 second video in which I try and fail to capture snow falling from the trees. It's still so beautiful...


It came out a little small, and the quality isn't what I'd like. I'll work on this :) It's impErFect!


And in this 26 second video you can feel the stillness...the only sound is that of the chimes.



Peace and love to each one of you...I am glad to be back and to see you here!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Shame

I am still in Atlanta, but scheduled this to post hoping that I might get a discussion going by the time I return. What do you think?

In the women's therapy group I am a member of, we are exploring the role of shame in our lives. For this we are using Brene Brown's shame curriculum, which is excellent. Did you know that research shows that everyone experiences shame--everyone! Some more than others, some less. 

This week one of the things we discussed is the difference between guilt, shame, humiliation, and embarrassment. I found it interesting to think about the distinctions between the four feelings.

As I see it, guilt is what we feel when we think "I have done something bad or wrong". 

Shame is what we feel when we think, "I am bad or wrong" and we feel disconnected, cut off from others, not belonging.  

Humiliation is what we feel when we do not believe we deserve the shaming behavior of someone else--we don't own it and we feel badly because we think we are being unjustly treated. We may have done something wrong or made a mistake but don't accept the shaming for it. 

Embarrassment is when we make a mistake or do something wrong, feel bad, and yet know that other people do and feel the same things--we are not alone. 

Isn't that interesting? What do you think? 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cleaning Up the Mess

Oh my, what a mess we have here!

After Snowmageddon 2012, we had a wind and ice storm that brought down more debris, so I have my hands full helping to coordinate the cleanup with the assistance of our wonderful insurance agency. I'm learning a lot about many different things and meeting new people--our project manager (who works with the construction workers, the roofer, the painters, and the gutter installers), an arborist who will see what trees can be saved, the people who will clean up the large debris and do chipping, and our terrific gardener who is taking care of regular debris cleanup.

While this is going on, I am making a short trip to Atlanta to support a relative there in the treatment program I've visited before. It is an alumni visit, a reunion of sorts, and I'm quite excited about it.

The mess will still be here when I return, but I think good progress will be made.

I am so very, very grateful for power.

I am also grateful to NOT be one of the people who had trees fall and crash through their roofs, effectively cutting their houses in two. Or who had their roofs pierced by a tree branch and now have water all over their belongings. Or who didn't have insurance and now are faced with overwhelming financial losses.

This storm was something that I know we all will remember here for years to come.

Thank you for all of your support, prayers, and comments, my friends.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snowmageddon 2012

Hello to everyone; I have been snowed in here in south Puget Sound for the past several days. I'm sure it's been on the news--"Snowmageddon" is what everyone here is calling it...I guess we were some of the worst hit here. My blog has been posting away posts that I've scheduled in advance, and so I'll catch up with it, your blogs, and your emails here in the next few days or so.

We've had no power for about a week. I'm very fortunate to have a propane generator so it means I have toilet facilities and water, a few lights, a microwave, and hot water in one bathroom--this puts me way ahead of most people out here. I also have limited heat from a wood stove.

I got my phone service back Saturday--this made a big difference. And my Internet came back yesterday so I'm dashing this off to let you know that I have not disappeared, just have been cut off from the world in a blanket of snow, wind, ice, and stormy weather. When propane runs out (soon) I'll finally have to evacuate, but keep hoping that the power comes on before that.

Because of our forested location, we're among the last to get power back. According to our electric company, there are only 53,000 people left and I'm in that group.

We had slight damage: a large tree limb falling on our house, narrowly missing a huge window (the one in my nook) but causing a bit of damage, gutters, trim off, broken railings, etc. And we lost our fence that goes around the property, several trees, and our chicken run collapsed. We are very fortunate because it could have been much worse. There are stories of people whose houses were cut in half by the huge trees that fell in this storm. And we are fortunate because we have insurance which will pay for most of the damage less a big fat deductible.

The things I missed the worst were not the heat nor the hot water nor the stove nor the television. The things I missed were:
(1) You, my community (gosh did I feel alone),
(2) Being able to go outside and walk and move around, and
(3) All of the people that I usually see and interact with every day.

The last one surprised me because I wouldn't have thought that, since I'm so introverted. But you know, my car hasn't been driven in 11 days! I've had a few visitors, thank God, but have been in the house the whole time. LoveHubbie is going to take care of the driveway so that I can get out tomorrow (I have no chains or four wheel drive) and I'm really looking forward to it.

I've missed you and it's good to be back in touch.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yes


Special thank you to Bobbi Illing who found this at Quan Yin's Facebook Site with the caption: 

"When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky."
~Buddha ~♥~

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Regarding Criticism and Insults

If you haven't read the comments on my post on enemies from yesterday, please do, and if you'd like, add to the discussion. There is much wisdom there...thank you to every one of you.

Here is something to add to that post.  It is a video from Martha Beck about getting over insults, and it is really provocative. Why do "insults" hurt? What is a helpful model for addressing insults and criticism? Martha answers this in just over two minutes.




What do you think? Wouldn't it be something to take what people say as input, and rather than reacting to it, responding to it internally in a truly appropriate way? This is really clean and healthy, I think.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Enemies

A few nights ago my friend Kristine wrote this. She is becoming a successful artist and has been learning the lessons that increasing good fortune brings and it has not been easy. One key thing she has discovered is that not everyone wants good things to happen to you. This can really be a shocker if the person who is not supportive is someone you love, someone who you thought loved you, someone who actually may love you as much as they can.

It's just a hard fact of life that not everyone wants you to succeed.

I have enemies too. Some of them are so-called "beloved enemies"--people I really love who just can't get excited about the good things I experience because they are so miserable with themselves, miserable with their own lives. It's not personal to me; these folks can't get excited about anyone's happiness. Others are the garden-variety enemies--people who do not like me and who are glad when bad things happen to me, people who think I'm a terrible person and "deserve to get my due" and such. I suppose they really truly qualify as an enemy when they are quite active in trying to have a personal hand in delivering my supposed karma to me. I one of those that I know of--I really hope that's it though.

In the past I think I would try to get everyone to like me no matter what. I would try to prove my character and convince others to get to know who I really was deep inside. Now, I just accept it. I've been through family estrangements, lawsuits, and adversarial divorces, and I know that it's just not possible to control what other people think of you.

I can only think of one person I feel this way about--someone who I would call an enemy--and it's because it's someone who has done so many things to so many people, especially children, that I honestly feel as though it would be justice if something terrible were to befall them, especially if it would stop them from hurting others in the future. When I start to feel this way though, I try to shift my thinking into an acceptance of whatever future God/The Universe has for them, mainly because I don't want to have any kind of hatred, resentment, or bitterness growing inside of me.

From time to time I am a little slow in shifting my thinking...sometimes quite slow...I admit to having dreams of "good triumphing over evil" (as I frame it in my head with my will being the good of course and their will being the evil). When I catch myself doing this, I counter such Justice-According-to-Me fantasies with prayers of blessings sent to them, healing energy, etc. Sometimes. At other times I entertain myself with my stories.

Another area in which I am imperfect.

I read that studies have been done which demonstrate that if you aggressively pray for your enemies on a consistent and lengthy basis, your negative feelings towards them will eventually go away altogether. I would like to say I've tried this, but I never have--just token efforts here and there. Of course, the Bible says this as well, but I don't know any Bible believers who have a regular practice of praying for their enemies, do you? It's not a fun practice and is about as popular today as the practice of fasting.

In fact, I know a "Christian" mother who taught her children that God had enough people doing good for others; she wanted her family to work together to help God deliver His punishments to others. He needs human hands to help out with both, she reasoned, and she had a strong affinity for the latter. So she taught her children this! This is wrong and creepy on so many levels it just boggles the mind.

People can get so mixed up.

I want to loosely quote the Queen of Arts and say that the answer to every question, the answer to every problem is the same--LOVE. Big, big love. Love for everything. Love for our friends, love for our enemies. Love!

So today, I'm going to give a shout out to those who call me their enemy--I send you love! To my estranged family members--I send you love! To my own personal enemy--I send you love! To the very sad lady with her "Punishment for God" practice--I send you love! To the people who just will NOT be happy for Kristine as she blossoms and blesses the world with her art--I send you love!


Love is the answer. Always.

What do you think about this? Do you have enemies?

~Photo by Me of some art I did inspired by the Queen of Arts called "Big Love Is Good Love"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Has Sprung Free

This post was prompted by what Kelly asked me in a comment, "What has sprung free in you?" She wrote this because I am writing many more posts this year than I have in a great while.

I think it's my word of the year for 2012, "ImperfEction". I am willing to be just as I am. My posts might be poorly written or well written, interesting or not, etc. and I have let go of all of that. I'm willing to just do the best I can.

Also, sometimes when I have read your comments in the past, I've been overwhelmed by the amount of love and support you offer me. At times it is hard to think of an adequate response. Nothing I could write would seem to be enough for what you wrote. I have let go of that. I'll reply imperfectly, but receive what you offer and send love back to the best of my ability.

Something else I've let go of is who my audience is. In the past I've felt uncomfortable with being vulnerable to some of the people who read my blog. I have an upcoming post about them called "Enemies"--something not often written about here or in the blogs I read. My regular community is the most loving and supportive and amazing...so I've decided to just be vulnerable anyway, and let the others do what they do (since they will anyway). I don't want to lose the closeness I value with each of you.

Lastly, I've thought about what I would regret if I were to die or say, if the world ends in 2012 :) I think that this is a useful exercise for anyone to do in order to prioritize their lives and to make good decisions. I would deeply regret holding back from the connections I value so much here.

So in 2012 I decided to GO FOR IT :)

iMPERFECTLY

Below is a painting that hangs on my wall in the nook where I work. I purchased it years ago and it's by an unknown artist (I can't read her/his name in the signature). It is a poem called "I Am Enough". I have posted this before, and it's worth posting again here for today:



UPDATE: I found out who created this: the artist's name is Kristen Jongen and her web site is Soul Soup! Her art work is wonderful and so are her books, so glad to finally "find" her!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So Many Posts! Did You Miss Any?

I've been posting so much lately. I wanted to just re-announce that I'm back to blogging at the happyluau for 2012, fast and furious and imPerfectly. Some posts are light and hopefully inspirational with quotes and videos. Others are deeper. I wanted to list them here so far in case you've missed any:

Word for 2012: ImPeRfectIoN
Listening
Radical Acceptance
Why I Changed My Name to Olivia
Word of the Year Box
Doing Art...ImpErFEctLy
One Year Ago Today

I have enjoyed and appreciated your feedback so much, and actually, the whole process of sharing imperFectly this year that I want to continue at this pace, so hold onto your hat. Or not--if you lose it, it's not the end of the world, as you can venture hatless and even disheveled into your day (as I have been known to do)...imPerfectly!


~Photo By Me

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One Year Ago Today

Today is my deceased mother's birthday, but that's not why I remember today.

Today is the date that a beloved uncle of mine died, but that's not why I remember today.

Today I am so grateful. One year ago today I got a diagnosis of macular degeneration and thought I was losing my eyesight. I lived with this diagnosis for two months, until March 15th, when I got a second opinion from an expert in macular degeneration and found out I was fine. It ended up that I had several eye problems, but none of them that would cause blindness in the near future. These eye problems perfectly mimicked macular degeneration when seen by a general ophthalmologist who would not have all of the specialized equipment of a specialist.

I can see!

Those of you who are reading this normally can also see, and it is a blessed gift. Today, celebrate with me, and please grateful for the wondrous gift of sight!