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Call and Response

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OH MY!

You know, I have been working lately on accepting what is and being in the moment and dealing with things as they come and not being attached to outcomes and all sorts of groovy  new ways of looking at life.

I have also been trying to really listen and trust, TRUST, what I hear in this call and response that is life. Because that is what I have felt like lately…I throw out an idea and see how it sounds echoing  back to me. I write something down and pin it to the refrigerator, looking at it daily and trying to see if it will float, or if something will float out from all the thoughts, words, ideas and regurgitation coming up from my mind these days. Crazy pages of scribbling words and ideas, floating messes with differing goals. Call, ask..and respond, answer.

The trick is not jumping on one idea so quickly that I don’t listen for the answer, and I can say with some certainty that I have been doing well in this regard. I think that’s why I haven’t been writing too much, why I have been sitting with my thoughts rather than throwing them out there for comment (even though the comments I get here I treasure, seriously, you all know that!). But in the last couple of months huge shifts are happening. They happened a little over 3 years ago when I got sober. Then again when I started being open to the idea of change…beginning 11th step yoga and staying open to a higher power energy, packing up my life and selling the house, moving to my apartment and divesting myself of stuff (and more stuff). In the last year (and it has been almost exactly a year since I left my house) I have been on a quest to figure out what might be my purpose in this last part of my life. I went deeper into yoga and meditation. I continue to be present for my grief groups and learn there. I am sponsoring and that really pushes me to get more in  touch with my own recovery, which has spread from drinking to eating to emotional recovery…it’s all the same thing. I have spoken with a person who has a lot of psychic energy and she has opened my eyes to some things.

I have been listening hard, sometimes to the detriment of doing, but that has to be ok right now, because i don’t want to do anything wrong, make a mistake, screw up the rest of my life……..

SCRRREEEECH!!!!!

Let’s just let that whole last sentence go, ok?

That sentence is the antithesis of what I want to do, and truthfully, I have NOT been doing that, for probably the first time in my life. I am listening and waiting for answers…call and response. I am trusting that the answers are all here, inside me and that they will come when I am ready. And I am being rewarded for this new tact, with new insights and certainty and hope for the future, a future I have been dreading for quite a while now.

One thing I know for sure (Oprah? is that you?) is that allowing is the way to go and that if I allow what IS to stay forefront in my mind, then allowing what is going to be will follow, because…call and response. Next right thing, next indicated action, the answers will come.

I have ideas, a lot of them. I wish I could show you the papers covered in thoughts and ideas and plans and outcomes, but I am sure you all have them too. They are a good tool though,because amidst all the mess there is one thing that keeps popping out, over and over. Grabbing my attention, calling to me, demanding attention  It is a starting point, a place that all the other ideas seem to flow from, and it surprises the hell out of me.

Yes, I am trusting and listening. YES, I hear you.

 

Sharing this call and response poetry I found and love: “all things in good time and all good things in time after so long waiting ,Dana. This, I believe This, I refuse to give up for another minute….”

 

Call and Response: Dana Gioia’s Poem, “The Letter”

Call: The Letter
by Dana Gioia

And in the end, all that is really left
Is a feeling—strong and unavoidable—
That somehow we deserved something better.
That somewhere along the line things
Got fouled up. And that letter from whoever’s
In charge, which certainly would have set
Everything straight between us and the world,
Never reached us. Got lost somewhere.
Possibly mislaid in some provincial station.
Or sent by mistake to an old address
Whose new tenant put it on her dresser
With the curlers and the hairspray forgetting
To give it to the landlord to forward.
And we still wait like children who have sent
Two weeks’ allowance far away
To answer an enticing advertisement
From a crumbling, yellow magazine,
Watching through years as long as a childhood summer,
Checking the postbox with impatient faith
Even on days when mail is never brought.

20140415-083050.jpg

Response: The Letter
by Jena Strong

No, Dana. In the end,
we will have received
every letter, opened some
neatly, along the crease
of the envelope, using
the letter opener we found
that time at the five and dime
when we were little kids
with coins in our lint-lined
pockets, that somehow
we kept through all the loves
and all the moves,
all the well days
and all the hand-wringing
goodbye moments,
tucked away and taken out
to open letters announcing:
I love you, you are loved.

Others, we will have been
not so careful with,
tearing them open
with overeager hands
or our front teeth
like rabid animals,
hungry not for news
but for something to chew on
and digest, to fuel us through
one hard winter after another.

Yes, we sent messages out
to the world, in bottles,
in songs, in pleas
and prayers, in exultation
and in desperation, asking
for so much and stopping
one day and then another,
no longer wondering
if we deserved answers,
deserved return receipt,
deserved reciprocity.

We deserved it,
deserved it all in the end,
got what our starving
hearts feared wouldn’t come.
We arrived, at the end, here,
to this place
where open and honest learned
to lie together, lion and lamb,
storm and stasis,
breath and gifts from an abyss
of longing unwrapped,
a party in our mouths
of words and of kisses
and of running
to the mailbox after work
to lift the lid
from the tin mailbox–
It came! It came! Mama!

All things in good time
and all good things in time
after so long waiting, Dana.
This, I believe. This, I refuse
to give up for another minute,
not wasting a single morsel
of the mail, the inbox–
the sender and the receiver,
the writer and the reader
are one, and the same.

 

 

The YES (again and still)

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IMG_2899“We bring alive the experience of Radical Acceptance when, instead of resisting emotional pain, we are able to say yes to our experience” “Yes is an inner practice of acceptance in which we willingly allow our thoughts and feelings to naturally arise and pass away”

“Saying yes is not a way of manipulating our experience, but rather and aid to opening to life as it is. Yet regardless of how our experience unfolds, by agreeing to what is here, we offer it the space to express and move through us”.

“Our practice of saying yes is not limited to our immediate experience. We can say yes to the whole life we are living. Yes to our friendships, to our parenting, to our physical appearance, to our personality, to our work, to our spiritual path”  “There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying yes to our entire imperfect and messy life. With even a glimmer of that possibility joy rushes in. When we put down ideas of what life should be like we are free to wholeheartedly say yes to life as it is”

( Tara Brach from her book Radical Acceptance)

 

I though I was through with my year of the YES.

Not totally of course, I like to take each years words and hold to them, learn from them, re-use them as needed. YES has been my favorite word, my first word. But this idea of Radical Acceptance has me by the throat (in a good way) and I see that YES is in no way finished with me, may never be

I am quoting a lot from Tara Brach because, although I have been assiduously listing to her dharma talks, reading her books, and doing her guided meditations, it is only now that I am really starting to understand what I have learned, am learning. Of course that makes complete sense; I am the slow learner, the experiential learner, the “takes what it takes” learner. And the good in that is that I find when it finally comes it seems to stick.  And that when it finally comes it hasn’t really finally come, there is always so much more to learn, but suddenly I see it, am open to it.

 

The picture above is an example of life throwing me a big “HELLO” !  My friend Brian Andreas wrote this new story and I knew it was meant for me (not literally, it spoke to me though). It was the YES in all it’s glory and I needed it. I immediately commented and thanked him and asked about a print. He told me he was playing with these new wood block things and if I waited maybe I could get in on that, and that sounded great.  So I waited and waited, (seriously maybe 2 weeks but it seemed like forever).  I asked him again about it and he told me that they had decided to NOT produce these, for a number of reasons, but he  did have this ONE. This ORIGINAL one of a kind and would I like it? YES! I listened and accepted and now I have that on my table and it is the only one. It is a message to me.

(See all of Brians brilliant work here…..http://www.storypeople.com/storypeople/Home.do)

And then I started to re-read Radical Acceptance and everywhere I turned there were situations arising within me and without that made it clear that there was much work to do and yet also brought into clear focus the work I had been doing and how it was all coming together, falling into place.

The YES came back in full force as acceptance, as falling back into the arms of a universe that wants good for me.  Allowing my feelings to be what they are and not stifle them or judge them, but be willing to work with them in a positive way to allow me  to live with them and to feel like I am insane or suicidal or giving up.  There is such freedom in acceptance, of non-attachment.  The freedom in being ready for whatever will come and not afraid of any of it. Learning how to live completely in the space of what is, fully surrendered to that. The HOPE that is there. After all the need and want and fear and judgement, the place of hope, of heart opening and of loving THIS life.

To wholeheartedly say YES and start to dance, to allow joy to rush in, to accept what is. Brene Brown says that “our capacity to be wholehearted cannot exceed our willingness to be brokenhearted”, and that fits with Tara’s “seeing and feeling the degree of suffering we are living with reconnects us to our heart.”

It is all determined by  the simple act of saying yes. Yes to it all.  That can include yes to non-attachment, to letting go of people, things, ideas that are no longer serving. Letting go of certain hopes and dreams that are just keeping me stuck in a place of not good enough or not accepting the “what is” of my life. Accepting that I may be alone ( and that is in the specific, not the more beautiful and true general knowledge that I am never alone) and that’s ok. Accepting that particular dance, joy may not happen in my life again and that will have to be fine. I have been stretched thin, full of fear and anger and sadness about that and I can let it go and be happy with what is, right now, right here.

Our practice of saying yes is not limited to our immediate experience. We can say yes to the whole life we are living. Yes to our friendships, to our parenting, to our physical appearance, to our personality, to our work, to our spiritual path” “There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying yes to our entire imperfect and messy life. With even a glimmer of that possibility joy rushes in. When we put down ideas of what life should be like we are free to wholeheartedly say yes to life as it is”.

 

Saying Yes to what is, that radical acceptance is what I want, how I want to live today. Re-structuring my life around and despite my broken heart, my suffering. That same suffering has led to much joy, awareness and usefulness.  There are two sides to everything, the yin and the yang (no longer the good and the bad), and honestly living in both is the change that I am hoping for.

 

Radical Acceptance

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“I have worked with many clients and students who reach a critical gateway when they finally register just how much pain they are in. This juncture is very different from self-pity or complaining about our lives. It is different from focussing on how many problems we have. Rather, seeing and feeling the degree of suffering we are living with reconnects us to our heart.” Tara Brach

Today I stopped and looked at a picture of my dead husband, Tom. I looked right at it like I have every day, although every day I do not really see it.

Today I paused and, like Tara mentions, I fully realized the extent of suffering I have been experiencing since he died.  In my mind I clearly heard “the only thing I want in life is you, back”…the ONLY thing.

I have been looking for meaning in life, for things to get excited about, for reasons to continue day to day. I have found many, and I am so grateful that I have because I would be dead if I had not.

I have  also been living in a terrible trance, in a story that I have told myself.  The story is about how I must go on, how he is dead and I am alive and I must make meaning of this life.  I felt that way while I was drinking but alcohol allowed me to just FEEL that way and do nothing real about it. Since I quit I have done some things that have led to helping me  be more content with life, and I have found meaning.

But it has been a trance, a story of life, one I have needed  and created to survive.

Today I told the truth. Today I saw that there is nothing in life I look forward to. Nothing I need. Nothing I want.

I opened myself to that knowing and that truth, which I have been trying to escape from in one way or another ever since he died.

There is nothing I want in life any longer.

I have to keep stopping myself from thinking that sounds crazy or wrong or defeated…I don’t think it is any of things. It is an honest appraisal of where I am in this exact moment in time. I paused at the picture and in that pause the truth was revealed to me. The truth of my suffering. And the truth about all the stories I have told myself since he died. All the stories, all of which were not lies, there was truth there, but forced and more reliant on what I should be doing or feeling rather than what I  actually was. I complained a lot, and have felt  very, very sorry for myself. This is different, this acknowledgment, this allowing.

I am not crying right now,  I don’t feel sad, actually quite the opposite. I feel calmer and clearer than I have in a long time. I understand what has been driving me in such a completely different way, and I accept it fully. I don’t think I have ever accepted it fully. Not his death,  that is pretty hard to be in any kind of denial about, but the fact that I want him to not be dead.  I have judged that. I have sat in regret for things I have said or done prior to his death and since, things that I judged as “not right”. I have tried so many different ways to re-engage in life in a meaningful way, and I have, I have succeeded in many areas. I am in love with my yoga and mindfulness practice, meditation…it has allowed me to see the truth of my situation. I love working  in my grief groups. I am grateful to be sober and help others as I can . I adore my friends. I love to travel. There is so much in life that I cherish and love, especially  now with a clearer mind.

But there is nothing I need or want.

I find myself very sanguine about certain things. The  yoga challenge I couldn’t do because I hurt my back. The trip I keep starting to plan and then stop because I don’t now where I want to go. Writing (or publishing) a new post on here. Binge watching TV which has become my latest passion and which I always considered a colossal waste of time. Not leaving the house for a few days. Not making plans, or wiggling out at the last moment. Food choices that don’t make me feel my best.

I have not acknowledged the depth of my suffering, and today I see it squarely, clearly. Laser focussed. I do know that I would not be seeing this if I had not been on a path that would lead me to this point, and I am grateful for that.

What does that mean?

“Recognizing  that we are suffering is freeing — self-judgement falls away and we can regard ourselves with kindness. When we offer ourselves  the same quality of unconditional friendliness that we would offer to a friend, we stop denying our suffering “

I hope it is freeing, this acknowledgement and acceptance.

I hope that, like Tara says, it will reconnect me with my heart. That my true heart will reconnect me back into the world. I’m not sure what to expect. But I am grateful to finally acknowledge this truth, this place of true suffering that I live from.

I’m already judging it and having to let those thoughts go, let them go. I haven’t posted here in over a month, and writing has been a joy for me, but I have stumbled.  I have started many a post and they have felt awkward and false, and that’s not what I want to do here. I don’t see any point in that. I may not know what I want but I know what I don’t want. I don’t want to lie anymore, to not tell the truth, to continue to believe anything other than what IS. I don’t want to live in a story that is my life, I want to live in my life.

I have no idea what that means, seriously.

You know what? I WANT to find out though.

 

Last Call, Best Song

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25-songs-blog-challenge5

 

#25: A song you could listen to all day without getting tired of”

 

This challenge has been a ball and  I must say I am sad to see it end. I’d like to thank C.K.Hope from http://daisiesfromdust.wordpress.com (she told me about it) and twin daddy at http://stuphblog.com/about/twindaddy/ for starting it all.

When I first looked at this I thought “ANOTHER impossible challenge”! Of course, I have found my way through all the impossible challenges of these  prompts, so I knew I could do this one too..

My first thought was to play a song that is on heavy rotation in my iTunes. Something contemporary by a band I listen to a lot, like Future Islands, or Elbow. Nick Waterhouse or Nick Cave. There were  other songs that I really wanted to use in one of the prompts but just couldn’t find the right spot for, like  In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel or Case of You by Joni Mitchell (hell, a lot of either of those artists!). I thought of whole albums that I love, by The Beatles, Traffic,  Arcade Fire or The Clash (to name a few) that I  play over and over. I figured no harm in choosing an album, when stuck for a song.

There is so much music I love that was not represented in this challenge, but everything that was represented was heartfelt and truly meaningful to me. And I don’t want to break that streak now, here at the end.

The song I chose  fits the criteria perfectly. I seriously add it into almost every playlist I have going. It’s always a bright and pleasant surprise when it comes on. It makes me smile, dance and sing-along. It makes me feel, and that feeling is mainly joy.

The opening words “Do you remember, the 21st night of September…” the birthdate of my son, wonder boy. The true and forever love of my life now. Good and bad times have been had, but love is the constant…he is my heart. And so this, I could listen to this song over and over and over, because it reminds me of him, my kid, my joy.

 

 

Now, what the hell am I gonna write about?

 

 

 

Wishing and Dancing

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25-songs-blog-challenge5#24 : “A song that you have danced to with your best friend”

I really wanted to come up with something crazy here, because I have enjoyed dancing (poorly, but enthusiastically) all my life, and have danced with many best friends over the years.

You know,  just try and keep me off the floor when Michael Jackson is played. Or keep me quiet when I can be dancing and jumping to “Shout”!  I have danced at weddings, at concerts, in my living room, at parties, and only occasionally by myself.

Once again, though, I have an immediate response, a first thought.

This song was the first dance at my wedding. I truly danced with my best friend.

 

 

 

 

OFF! OFF! Damn Song…

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25-songs-blog-challenge5

#23:  A song you cannot stand to listen to”

I refuse to be obvious about this prompt.

I could easily choose that mid-western wedding staple, the infamous Chicken Dance.

Or jump on the Macarena or Gangum Style bandwagon.

But the truth is, for me, there are singers and bands that are wildly popular that I just do not get.  I am not talking about Gangster rap  (tho I enjoy a little NWA or Tupac)or sad sack country (but Waylon can be pretty cool), which are styles I dislike. I’m also not talking about The Beibs or boy bands or young girl pop stars. I’m old, they re not on my radar to tell the truth.

I am talking about contemporary bands/groups that people love, that sell out concerts, that appear on TV shows and are touted as the next big thing and sometimes are (much to my astonishment!)  That the local radio stations I listen to play and play. A couple examples are James Blunt, David Grey, the band Dawes. I find them unlistenable and yet they have a  huge fan bases.  I am not, by any means, dissing anyone who likes these musicians, and the music I choose today. Thank god for all types and tastes in music.  I just dislike it, I will immediately change the channel if I can. I won’t go to their concerts.  It’s just me, not you….

Often  it’s about the tone of their voices. Sometimes it’s the treacly lyrics of their songs. Whatever,  it doesn’t matter. Different strokes for different folks, right? I am quite sure a number of my choices during this series have had people scratching their heads, and even more in my real life.

So that being said here is a song from a group that, as I said, I just don’t get.  Their popularity is a mystery to me, and I have friends who adamantly disagree. I chose the first live performance I found, checked to make sure it played, and turned it OFF….

 

 

Oh, My Heart…..

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25-songs-blog-challenge5

#22: “A sung that someone has sung to you”

We’ve discussed my husband, the musical theatre maven.

Discussed what  a beautiful voice he had.

Discussed how happy I always was when he sang.

Discussed how he sang to me, often. How lucky I felt when he did.

This is a song , and a show The Most Happy Fella, that he adored. Early on he would play this music for me, and we saw this show several times during the time we were alive together.  I think he deeply identified with the character of Tony, for many reasons, which need not be discussed here.

Anyway, I remember the night he first played this album for me, sitting in his apartment in North Hollywood, not far from where I am living  now.  When this song came on he stood up and sang along, beautifully. He looked at me while singing, he sang it to me.

I wrote a post about hearing him sing “On The Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady; how that was the moment I think I fell in love with him.

When he sang this to me that night, I think that might have been the moment he fell in love with me.

My Heart Is So Full Of You:

 

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