Sunday, September 10, 2017

Let Them Eat Cake! (Off the Sidewalk)

Mother's Day 2000

For my gift,  Jordan had baked a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and colored sprinkles.   He was so proud of it!  We were going to my grandparents for dinner that night and decided to take the cake with us to have for dessert.  Jordan carefully held the cake in his lap the whole car ride there.  As my boy went to get out of the car somehow the cake dumped out of his lap and upside down onto the sidewalk.  Instantly his little eyes filled with the biggest pools of tears I'd ever seen. 
"Stay right there." I commanded.  "Don't move a muscle."  Then I dashed inside the house and told grandma to get 4 forks and meet us on the sidewalk, pronto!  Both Gram and Papa were in their early 80's at the time.  We hadn't had dinner yet but the 4 of us sat together on a busy sidewalk in Tacoma with forks in hand eating all of that chocolate cake right off the ground.  We had to be careful when we got down to the frosting layer though, it had pebbles and dirt in it.  This is one of my proudest parenting moments.  I didn't always do it this good - but this was one for the family history books!

No One Is Coming To Save You

One day, I was talking to my adult son about a significant life situation in which I felt helpless to alter. He looked me in the eyes and with a gentle, earnest voice he said, "Mom, no one is coming to save you. You have to save yourself." 

Those two short sentences, spoken with wisdom beyond his years, pricked something deep in my soul. For days I rolled them around in my mind like an old cat batting at a new toy. "No one is coming to save you." Well, logically I knew that. But did I have the tools to save myself from what seemed like a helpless situation? I knew I did not. I needed to do some tool shopping. 

As I reflected on what kind of tools I might need to aquire, I was surprised by the direction my mind went. For most of my adult life, I have been plagued by horrible nightmares. In them, the situations are varied but my role, is always the same. The helpless victim. In my waking life I am a mover and a shaker. A problem solver. A doer. I am not a victim! I never understood why I wasn't as badass in my sleep as I thought I was when awake. I used daily self talk and mantras to try to convince my sleeping brain that "I've got this" and I would write new scripts of those nightmares and rehearse different outcomes in my mind. To no avail. And then it hit me. If I wanted to be able to defend myself physically in my bad dreams, like any actor I needed to learn and rehearse the actual moves of true self defense. So I started asking around and a friend mentioned a class that she took at Bellevue College and I found Joanne Factor of Strategic Living.

Though my finances were tight,  I knew I had to find a way to get to class. I set my sights 3 months out and started to save money. It wasn't a logical expense at the time. It was a sacrifice and it wasn't easy. My boyfriend was critical of my spending choice. "You don't need to take a class babe, I'll take care of you" he said. But he didn't understand how deep this went for me. I rarely felt physically unsafe in my awake world. I was intentional about making sure I didn't get into situations where I felt unsafe. I always went out with friends in groups, avoided shady areas of town at night, walked with undistracted awareness to my car when I was alone, and held my keys as a weapon if anything felt even remotely unsafe. I wasn't afraid. This was simply how I was raised to think. To not be a victim. But I needed more tools, real tools of self defense to rewrite the script in my nightmares. I was so excited when class started! I was there to learn and nothing would get in my way! 

The lessons Joanne taught were interesting, engaging and practical.  Between classes I read the homework assignments, watched self defense videos on YouTube and practiced what I learned with my son. 

A few weeks ago I was leaving the gym and another member (male) followed me out to the parking garage. I stopped walking, turned to the side and said, "I'll feel more comfortable walking behind you". He looked at me in surprise. I'm sure he was just going to his car without any thought of me, but I was really uncomfortable alone in the parking garage like that. Thank you Strategic Living for teaching me how to use my voice and instincts!

The classes I took at Strategic Living were life changing! Since taking the course at Bellevue College I can count how many nightmares I've had on one hand and I feel empowered and prepared to handle anything the waking hours bring too! 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Empty Nests

Several months ago I found this perfect nest on the ground at work. I made some perfect little eggs from paper clay and set the nest in my potted ivy plant by my front door.  Slowly, one by one the eggs have been disappearing. Now I have an empty nest. What I *think* is that one of the little girls in the apartments below me is allowed to venture up the stairs without her mom and the eggs were too irresistible for her little eyes and hands. Now, it's game on! I'm sure if her mom has found them, she has no idea where they came from and I'm not going to mention it. Trying to think of other irresistible "Littles Friendly" treasures I could leave in the nest for her to discover... ☺️
This experience also has me pondering on empty nests. My "little" is all grown and off on his own adventures now. He's good about visiting my nest, while he's off making his own. ❤️

Monday, March 23, 2009

Home Alone Time

Some pretty big stuff has come up for me around the issue of HAT aka "Home Alone Time" and the lack thereof in my current life situation. I have tried to explain it to my husband a million times in a million different ways and he just doesn't seem to get it. Or he appears to get it one time, but not the next. Or one time he gives it without grudge, but the next time it's a huge imposition on him with an emotional cost to me. It's become a very frustrating and repetitive argument that doesn't seem to be getting any resolve.

I remember when my now 17 year old son Jordan was really young, maybe age 3 or 4, I was commuting from Spanaway to Renton (about 60 to 90 minutes) to work. About once a month, instead of going home after work, I went and spent the night with a dear girlfriend who lives in Seattle only 30 minutes from my place of employment at the time. The next morning I'd get up and go to my job from there and go home to my family after work. I remember feeling so filled up, happy and at peace having had that time away. I also remember my ex-husband being very resentful of that time and not appreciating or understanding my need for it. I remember one conversation where I said to him "It just makes me love you and Jordan more. I can't explain it, it just does." It wasn't exactly Home Alone Time that I was getting in that case, but sometimes, when I'm desperate "Away From Home Time" is better than nothing.

I decided today that I needed to get real clear on what it was about for me, and why I am not willing to give in on this particular issue in my house so I wrote this article to figure it out and maybe, just maybe it will help my husband understand that it's not about him. That it's far more selfish than that, it's definitely about me.


What is Home Alone Time?
Home Alone Time is just that - time to be at home, alone in the house without anyone else around to interrupt personal introspection time, creative time, work time or rest time. Having someone else in the home at the same time, no matter how quiet or uninvolved they are is still an intrusion either passive or active and does not constitute true Home Alone Time. Home Alone Time, is quiet, personal time to just BE. To listen to what is going on inside me, to hear my true needs, wants, desires, thoughts, ideas and opinions. It's a time to unplug from everything and everyone else in the world, to journal, process, ponder, or not. There isn't an agenda for Home Alone Time. Chores and other household duties could happen during Home Alone Time, but they are optional and not part of the Home Alone Time process. Home Alone Time is about being disengaged from any other human being for a period of time so that I can be fully engaged with me. To hear what my heart wants me to know, to follow thoughts, inspiration or action on whatever path may come up without being on guard or worried what someone else might think, do or say to interrupt the process. Home Alone Time is not about not being with another person - it's about being with myself. It isn't a punishment to others that live in the home for any certain behavior or lack. It isn't about not wanting to spend time with those I reside with. It is about needing to spend time, alone, in a safe, quiet and comfortable environment with myself. HAT allows me to disconnect from the chaos of daily life and reconnect with my authentic self in a deep, meaningful and spiritual way.

Why is it important?
Home Alone Time is vitally important to me. It seems to be more important now than I ever realized before, probably because I am not getting very much of it with Brian working from home and the lack of HAT has triggered a lot of resentment within me. Home Alone Time is not just a want for me, it is a true life sustaining need. I need this time to regenerate energy, both physically and emotionally. I need Home Alone Time to be okay with whatever is happening in my life.

How often is Home Alone Time needed?
There doesn't seem to be any "set" formula for how much or when is optimal only that SOME must exist. More isn't always necessarily better either. The amount of time "needed" may vary from week to week. In some weeks I may need more HAT to process and cope with whatever is coming up for me in my life. Other people may not be able to just "know" if I need more HAT or less. Somewhere there is an internal barometer that can answer the question within me. I need to remember to consult with it and let others know when I might need more or less HAT.

Is HAT only necessary when things aren't going well?
Absolutely not. HAT is necessary whether things are going well or not. If things ARE good, then HAT only helps keep me in the space of "I am okay" because it allows me to stay in touch with the inner wisdom that my soul can provide when fully disengaged from the world and others. When things in life are not going so good, HAT is also vital and important because in that time and space I am able to think quietly and clearly about what is coming up, to get into a true process of those things and to find a place of peace and comfort within.

What is the benefit to others of Home Alone Time?
When the people I love the most give me the gift of regular HAT without begrudging it, I feel closer and more emotionally connected to them. That's right! They can meet part of my need for emotional connection by honoring my need to be home alone sometimes. By making time to be elsewhere for me to have HAT, they are saying to me "I love you, I know this is important to you, I may not get it, but your needs matter to me so I will find something else to do for this period of time." Giving HAT grudgingly definitely reduces the productive nature and point of having HAT. Some is better than none, but resentment from the one giving me the time and space to be home alone is very counter productive to the whole process and will definitely limit the benefits of HAT for me as well as what it would otherwise allow me to give back to them.

What feelings come up around having Home Alone Time?
When I get a necessary amount of HAT I feel more loving towards my family. I feel more able to find patience, forgiveness and grace for them in their struggles, imperfections and the things that just plain annoy me about them. Somehow, HAT creates a protective bubble around me so that the things that might otherwise grate on me, frustrate me, annoy me or tip me over emotionally, don't seem to have as much power. I don't understand how or why it works, I only know that it does.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saying Something

I've been intrigued for quite some time about the whole blogging phenomenon but haven't had the courage to really dive in and do it. When I try to figure out why that could be, I realize that I fear that I might not have something to say, or that no one will care what I say, or read what I say, or worse yet I'll be criticized for something I say. Yikes!

There is also something about putting my thoughts out there in cyberspace for all the world to see that feels really, really vulnerable. Yup, it is a vulnerable thing to do.

So why do it at all?

Well,... I've believed for most of my life that I was a writer with something to say. I've been told that I write well and that others enjoy what I say when I do take the time to write. I enjoy writing but I also resist it at the same time. When I write I learn things. I learn things about myself that I might not have been aware of before and sometimes I learn things that I really didn't want to know. So it's a blessing and a curse, this writing thing I do.

But sometimes I just might have something to say. Sometimes I might want to put it out there, own it and see what happens. So, for those times I now have a place. If I have something that feels worthwhile to say, I'll say it here in my new blog.