Archives for category: Creative Expression

“The garden of leaflessness: who dares to say that it isn’t beautiful?”

Iranian poet Mehdi Akhavān Sāles

REFLECTIONS

This post is dedicated to my nephew!

My love affair with fictional detectives seems to be over. Until very recently, and for decades, I have been mesmerized and transfixed by the antics of detectives. Now, whether reading or viewing, I fall asleep. The ending of any love affair compels one to analyze the arc of its life.

 My enchantment began when I was 7, with ‘The Secret World of Og”. This book launched my fascination(possible compulsion), with detectives and their ability to uncover the truth. I wonder if others know these characters as well as I do… Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, DCI Wexford and Dalgleish, Inspectors Morse, Lewis and Lynley?

This cadre of detectives is brilliant, witty and perspicacious! In their efforts to solve what are known in the publishing world as ‘cozy crimes’, they display an uncompromising morality. Primarily motivated by a commitment to the truth, they use a complex process that combines logic and astute observation with intuition and instinct, while maintaining a sense of humour. My deep devotion to the genre no doubt resided in my need for role models, whose raison d’être, was the truth. I don’t think it was unusual that I focussed on such types, from an early age. Children have an innate sense of justice and  abhor the ‘bill of goods’ parents try to sell them. My parents, like most, justified their harsh punishment and high expectations of us by uttering the usual rhetoric …”We know best.” and “It’s for your own good.” Clearly neither was true, but my opinion wasn’t solicited. And I was far too afraid to be defiant, as the consequences were dire. But one of my brothers, being the precocious middle child, felt compelled to share his unsolicited views, and was cruelly beaten. I still am brought to tears by these memories. Hitting a child is never justifiable.

I have spent my life on a mission to discover the mystery of family love. Just like any eccentric detective, I’ve poked around in the detritus of family life, hoping that through an examination of broken promises, heavy hearts and discarded dreams, I might find the clue to explain the survival of its love. Familial love endures the harshest of realities, even though this love may not be easily expressed. But begin the arduous task of truth seeking, and a spark of love will be ignited into a flame…no different than the power of a tiny ember regenerating the life of a dying log.  The seed for this unassailable truth was planted a year ago when I saw a luminous vision in New Orleans, a city ripe with the imagery of life and death.

Saint Louis Cathedral New Orleans

Saint Louis Cathedral New Orleans

This arresting image, has two notable themes for me.

Firstly, I have come to believe that even in the darkest of nights, there is still the light of the moon to guide my way. I am never entirely alone… symbolized by the statue’s brilliance in the dark.

Secondly, I found Christ’s open arms, mysteriously compelling. Only now do I understand its significance. I have always been an idealist, demanding life and those in it, function at the highest level, in a state of perfection. But Christ’s gesture of surrender, can also be interpreted to mean the necessity of holding both the dark and the light in balance….good and bad, joyful and miserable, love and hate…withstanding the tension created when simultaneously holding both positive and negative emotions for all situations. It may seem trite to say that a family always has both, but to an idealist, it’s a revelation! As much as I wanted my parents to ‘come clean’ and admit their failings, I perpetuated the family myth of perfection, by demanding it of myself, my children, my husband(s) and my friends. 

I’ve come to realize the power of the confessional. In it lies the secret to fanning the flame of love, for oneself and for others. Only through the experience of my confessional, The Other Woman Blog, where I have openly admitted  my frailties, my faults, my dreams and my desires, have I come to accept, as true, that love flourishes between people when we present ourselves as humans, not demigods. I now embrace the sententious moralizing thrown at me over the years…”Life’s not just a bowl of cherries, sometimes you find yourself in the pits.” Life is simultaneously cherries and pits! Love is simultaneously fulfilling and excruciating. Family provides simultaneously the best and the worst of times!

Below is the collage I have been working on for the past week.

Balancing Death and Life

Balancing Death and Life

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 28 OF 52 

CHANGING MY PERCEPTION OF IDEAL FAMILY LOVE

SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT FOR ABOVE THEORY

Studies done by the Psychologist, H.E. Hershfield, counter the long held belief that negative emotions are linked to increased risk for illness, while positive emotion leads to health and longevity. His 10 year study reports that the greater the frequency of people’s mixed emotional experiences over time, the slower their age-related health declined. Every situation has both positive and negative aspects. Identify any situation, extremely positive or negative, and a balancing reality can also be named…the birth of a long awaited child is balanced by sleepless nights…my near death infection was balanced by my move to consciousness…infidelity in my marriage…what I’ve learned will take an entire post!

Choosing to suppress, ignore or deny negative experiences and emotion, rather than express them, acting as though everything is fine, is not only unhealthy, but it limits the flow of love. Like breathing, that is as much an inward motion as an outward expression, love flourishes in our humanity, in our dark characteristics as much as our light, not in an idealized state of perfection.

So for Week 28 of 52, I will embrace the duality of life.

Christ of the Deep - Key Largo

Christ of the Deep – Key Largo

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“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.”
― May Sarton

REFLECTIONS

Today will bring my 10 days of silence to an end. I hadn’t planned this silent retreat, but after a week of ignoring the phone, emails, requests to ‘meet up’ on Plenty of Fish etc., I began to accept that I was choosing solitude. At first I thought this was just a reaction to a very socially active fall and Christmas, but when days of silence were followed by more days, the significance of this experience came clear. After 7 years, I had finally conquered my 2 phobias…Monophobia and Noctiphobia…meaning I was now able to experience the inexplicable joy of being alone in solitude during the day, coupled with a peaceful sleep at night, alone in my bed, without a companion…be it a man, the voice of a man delivered through an audio tape, food, or a knife.(for intruders)

I used to be a person that never spent time alone…ever. Whether day or night, I was invariably in the company of others, be it family members, friends, colleagues or fictitious characters from books and movies. I left home at 19 and moved into Staff Housing of The Banff Springs Hotel for my year away from University.

Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel

 

Upon my return to my parents, I learned of their plan for a 2 month holiday in celebration of the resuscitation of their marriage. My response was to move in with my boyfriend. I never thought of myself as someone who feared being alone, but in retrospect, I had moved from childhood home to Staff Housing to boyfriend, to marriage to the ultimate solution to never having to be alone…children! In 50 years, I don’t think I had spent a single night by myself! I was unaware of my fear, because I had managed to avoid confronting it. Herein lies the challenge with phobias and fears. In general we are unaware of having them simply because we design our lives in ways that keep us well clear of even a chance encounter. Say for example you are Glossophobic, well you just refrain from speaking in public. Or if you are Xenophobic, you avoid travel to foreign lands. If asked if I was afraid of being alone, I would have scoffed at such a preposterous idea, and responded with how much I loved being with people. No argument is tighter than that of a person protecting their fear.

But my unconscious desire to live a more personally satisfying life, kept prodding me to ‘wake up’. One of the most potent nudges came from my dream content. Countless dreams had me dwelling in houses that were obviously restrictive; rooms without windows or houses with staircases that went nowhere or derelict homes with no foundations. Dream images of houses are a symbolic representation of the psychological space we inhabit, our true sense of how we feel in our inner life. Try as I might to ignore this deep desire to redefine my psychological space…this sense of myself…my unconscious continued to bombard me with these images. I eventually began to accept that I did feel confined and dissociated from the real me. I had to admit that the beautiful accoutrements of my external life hid the barrenness, the vacuousness of my inner life.

To bring about real change, though, it meant I would have to undergo a cataclysmic upheaval. The adult self is a stable, perdurable entity by necessity, or emotional/mental breakdowns would occur regularly.  The image that I had created to represent me had to be dismantled, persona by persona, releasing instead, the authentic me. I began with digging deep into Mother Earth.

Image from My Dream Journal-breaking down the walls of resistance

Image from My Dream Journal-breaking down the walls of resistance

I began small, in 2004, with a room of my own in the basement of our family home. Alone in this space, inner chaos opened up within me. I felt disturbed, bewildered and so fragile at times that I was afraid I’d have a nervous breakdown. Shutting out the distractions of family, friends and the incessant busyness of any woman’s life, allowed all of my inner doubts, anxieties, fears, painful memories, unresolved conflicts, angry and resentful feelings and impulsive/compulsive desires to manifest. No wonder we try to hold down the lid to Pandora’s Box. In fact, to stay in this inner chaos and not immediately retreat to the familiar, yet unsatisfying outer life, takes extreme discipline. My herbalist/healer, Annette, asked a group of us if we were flirting, dating or in a committed marriage with our personal growth!

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 27 OF 52

CHANGING FROM LONELINESS TO SOLITUDE-CLIMBING MY EVEREST

In this week’s post, I am celebrating my successful climb from the despair of loneliness to the bliss of solitude. This Spiritual Journey required that I become utterly alone and withdrawn into my innermost self. I had to endure long periods of bitter suffering. But now I have the strength to  stand amidst a throng of people, staying true to who I am and what I believe. I know this is not the BOX I ticked when sitting with a career counsellor in University, but to be honest, if that box had been available, I would have chosen it. I suppose a Degree in Psychology/Philosophy was the University’s version of a spiritual quest!

So now I sit alone, in my seaside cottage, 2 finger tap tapping my experiences through The Other Woman Blog! I will share some images of what I’ve seen out my window.

Happy New Year! 2013!

Happy New Year! 2013!

“To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.”

― Federico García Lorca, Blood Wedding

REFLECTIONS

Happy Half Way Point for The Other Woman Blog!

I’m back home now, in a self-imposed, silent retreat. Candles burning, fresh flowers before me and very loud rock music blaring. Something about the sharp contrast between the serene and the wild is feeding my soul today. I am going to try to unearth the purpose of my addictions…my over-indulgences with food and British Mystery Series. Let me be clear. I had no desire to write about this. But I made a promise when I began theotherwomanblog, 6 months ago…that whatever topic presented itself to me, on or around the day of writing, I would be courageous enough to write about it…no matter how uncomfortable it made me. Today is New Year’s Eve…now New Year’s Day! (I began yesterday but made little progress…I was like the class clown, who uses humour and silly antics to avoid work…after several hours with no discernible progress in my writing, I closed my computer and watched a British Mystery while eating chocolates-the realization that I was finally coming close to understanding my addictive tendencies, made me giddy, but afraid.) 

The following incident brought today’s topic to me through the magic of synchronicity, where an innocuous event in the external world has unexpected significance to me and me alone! Often though, once explained, others, too, may understand. 

I had no sooner finished last week’s post, on Christmas Eve, when this week’s topic landed in my lap, literally. This synchronistic event occurred during Christmas dinner, which I was spending with two of my tall, thin girlfriends( of which I seem to have an inordinate number). After cooking for hours, we made our way to the candle lit table, set for 3, each place adorned with a pretty red Christmas Cracker…neither the chair nor the Cracker was pre-assigned. Once seated, we 3 crossed arms and pulled on each other’s Christmas Crackers, until 3 snaps were heard …in the flurry of noise and ripping Crackers, the gifts flew about…the other women located their cheap little games on the table before them, but my trinket was no where to be seen. In seconds though, my gaze was drawn down…and there, on my chubby lap, lay a well constructed, heavy duty, TAPE MEASURE!  COME ON UNIVERSE! This was supposed to be a celebration. I reluctantly snapped 2 photos, for the Blog Post, I knew I had to write.

Survey Time ! Who has ever received anything useful in a Christmas Cracker? I have tried to embed a survey in this Post. If it did not work, blame my Editor, who has gone out for New Year’s Eve…I’m not whining…I chose this…I needed to concentrate…self-imposed silent retreats are a priceless luxury, especially after 2 weeks of fun and frivolity. 

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My Analysis of Addictive Tendencies

Maybe watching British Mystery Series doesn’t warrant its own branch in the 12 Step Recovery Program, as Overeaters Anonymous does, but I am definitely a British Mystery Series-aholic. My definition of addiction is broad-based but non-judgemental. If I engage in an activity that makes no sense, but I do it anyway, then I feel I am dealing with addictive tendencies. Easy to apply this definition to heroin, more difficult with food and British Mystery Series. You may say, “What’s wrong with a little entertainment and the odd treat?” Simply put, nothing. But when life is so precious, why would I waste mine watching others perform? In addition, when I have worked so hard to become healthy, why would I jeopardize this by eating sugar? I’m neither stupid nor lazy, although it has taken me years to end these judgements… so what drives these self-destructive, punishing, tendencies? What bottomless pit am I trying to fill? What am I really yearning for?

 The opening quote by Federico Lorca gave me my clue. What have I deeply desired in my life, but have not experienced? More than anything, I have dreamed to live from the depths of my spirit, feeling confident and free to express my views and observations, feeling confident and free to follow my intuition, my instinctual drives…using my skill, talent and intuition in the creation of my life. But this has not been my experience in the least. Instead I felt constrained and defined…socialized to the point of dispiritedness…listlessness.

I started theotherwomanblog when I became aware of feeling contained as a woman in today’s prescriptive culture…”Do this, don’t do that…Look like this, not like that…Feel this way, ignore your instincts, your intuition…” As with us all, this process began in childhood, when I was compulsively instructed. Yes, I was given choices, but was I ever given the choice to do nothing or to do whatever was my heart’s desire?  It was as though my parents feared I would become a cretin, devoid of any natural desire to be productive or well behaved, without their prescription for a productive life.

Aspirations for Week 26 of 52 

Changing My New Year’s Resolution

Just like Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz, I am trying to find my way back home, the home of my soul, so that I no longer yearn for that ineffable yet desirable life. I am starved for a meaningful existence…not as defined by others but that is defined by me. In fulfilling my deepest wishes, my yearning will lessen and I will no longer attempt to satiate a need for a soulful life with the illusory, momentary fix of a British Mystery Series or food.

So for Week 26 of 52, I resolve to design my life, relying on my intuition and instincts, having faith that I have the skills and drive to make it happen!

Finding My Way Home

Finding My Way Home

REFLECTIONS

“We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide examples for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.”

― James Hollis, What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life

 Christmas Eve! A celebration of new life!

Even during the darkest days of the year, I now know that new life is still being created, constantly…perpetually. And I am not just thinking of the precious tiny babies that are born this day, every day, but the never-ending creation of new life within the “self “…that mysterious place that connects each of us to each other and to the Unified Field, the source of all that exists. It is this paradox, that new life is created even in the darkest of times, that has given me hope for myself and our world. If indeed we are leaving the era of ego based creations, to an era where humans create consciously, from their hearts and souls, we will experience the dawning of a new age.

Conscious Creators of a New World

Conscious Creators of a New World

It seems the first half of life is meant to be spent discovering our real reason for being on this planet…and the second half to express this ‘soul self’, in whatever creative manner we feel moved to use. As I went about life in my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, embracing the ‘workaday’ world, making a living, a home and a family, a quiet but potent force nudged me to discover that which would truly fulfill my destiny on this planet. At my 50th birthday, I invited those people who had made an impact in my life, and thanked them for their love and support. What I was not conscious of was that I was saying goodbye to them and the material life I had cherished to that point. Unknowingly, I was about to set out on a quest to find a spiritual life. It was mandatory for my survival. I needed balance between the material and the spiritual, so that I could live from my soul, expressing myself consciously, from my heart, not just my mind.

My quest for a spiritual life had all the elements of any quest…a desire for a missing object or experience, that was of such inestimable valuable to me, the hunter, that any number of obstacles, including near death and blindness, would be willingly faced in its pursuit. Every culture, past and present, has fairy tales, myths and folklore depicting such journeys…Sir Galahad on his quest for The Holy Grail…the Heroine’s search for a husband in the fairy tale, ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon’…’The Wizard of Oz’s’ Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion, searching for Kansas, brains, heart and courage, respectively…and Holden searching for a sense of purpose in ‘The Catcher in the Rye’.

In finding that elusive and mysterious entity, we call the ‘spiritual life’, I can now live in balance between that and materialism, which encompasses the mundane but necessary aspects to keeping alive, sheltered and fed. Symbolically, perhaps, the image of the cross depicts this…the balance between spirituality and materialism. In finding this, after years of searching, after countless wrong turns, tragedies, mishaps and misadventures, I can live a life from my heart…my soul, expressing that which fulfills me.

Aspirations for Week 25 of 52

Changing Nothing, Accepting Everything, in the Quest for a Spiritual Life

I have come to accept, it makes no more sense to cling to a wonderful moment, a lovely day, a cherished friend or a material object than to wish away pain, or depression, stupidity or the drudgery of life. I cannot live in paradise if I want to grow into a conscious and fulfilled human. I have come to also accept that just as a garden goes through a cycle of deterioration, decline with eventual death, before there can a period of incubation, and creation of new life…so too must I.

I must allow old ideas and habits to die, when they no longer serve me well, just as I throw out clothes that no longer reflect the new me. When I was uptight and rigid, I wore very tailored and coordinated styles of clothing befitting a woman twice my age…now I am beginning to love clothes that flow!

So for Week 25 of 52, I will be Open Hearted to life’s moments as they are presented to me, willingly receiving whatever crosses my path.

Open Hearted to the Devine

Open Hearted to the Devine

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