Ahhhhh YES! the first day of Spring arrived yesterday with blue skies, sunshine and 50 degrees! After the grey days of winter I have been longing for the time when I could get outside and work in the gardens of my new home.
We just made a big move from our home of 20+ years, a humble cabin/house in the heart northern Michigan, to a 1930s Mediterranean Revival home on a small lot in the city of Saginaw. I have spent all winter, since mid November, getting to know my new home and the ins and outs of city living. Things are just done differently here than in my previous home, where the nearest store was 12 miles away and that was the small town of Grayling. I have adapted pretty easily and actually enjoy living in the city. Saginaw is a pretty cool place and I am excited, now that Spring is here, to get out more and see what it has to offer culturally. But first, these gardens must be tended!
Since we moved in late in the fall, there were no flowers in bloom, but the gardens here were still so beautiful and lush. One of the reasons why we chose this house was because the yard is just perfect for us. Although we have neighbors quite close the gardens also give a sense of privacy and is like a little oasis in the midst of the city.
I have been patiently waiting, through the snow and grey and cold of winter, to be able to play in this beautiful yard and the time has finally come! HOORAY SPRINGTIME! I decided to tackle the front yard first and just work my way towards the back. While the DH (dear hubby) cleaned up leaves from the sidewalk, curb, and yard, I began by cleaning out all the leaves and old growth from the beds while trimming back last years blooms.
I found so many things already sprouting up! A ton of iris, hyacinth, delphinium, daffodils and others that I can not tell what they are yet.
A cute little mint, or possibly catnip?
I also found Chinese lantern plants and some of the lanterns from last year that had turned into the little lace creations… so beautiful!
There are also rhododendron, rose bushes, many different kinds of interesting evergreens and tons of little plants I haven’t identified yet. So exciting! I would like to take a picture each week to show the changes… I am not so good at keeping up with scheduled things though… but that is another subject for another day.
I was able to finish the whole front yard before it started raining on me, what a difference!
Today’s Save Yourself journaling prompt…
You have to clean away the old dead stuff so the new stuff can grow.
What, in your life, no longer serves a purpose?
What no longer bears fruit?
What are some things that you no longer do or use that are just taking up space in your home, closets, cupboards or basement?
What are some old dried up beliefs that are holding you back from growing?
Don’t forget to make a goal and a plan to clean out the old dried up stuff. You never know what is waiting to grow and bloom beneath all that dead weight.
Remember, we must save ourselves BUT we are not alone.
This morning I woke up questioning my life. Why am I here? What am I doing? What do I want to accomplish? What was I thinking starting a blog? Is this blog thing nothing more than me seeking attention? Do I really think that what I have to say or the things that I do are so important or make any difference in this world? I probably just sound stupid.
This is an old habit of mine. I question and over analyze everything I do. I self analyze and criticize so much that what I am doing loses any sort of pleasure for me. Sometimes to the point where I paralyze myself and I end up doing nothing. What is this great fear or thought inside of me that thinks that everything has to be so serious and perfect? Why can’t I do something purely for my own entertainment, self exploration, or even just for pure silliness?
When did I lose the ability to simply have fun? To do something simply for the pleasure of it, unabashedly so! Where did my JOY go? This is something I have been working on and trying to get to the bottom of.
Do I even know what JOY feels like? I can not remember an age when I didn’t have this fear of judgment, punishment, or being made fun of. It has stifled me all of my life. What would it feel like to just BE with out all of this pressure I put on myself?
I was pretty traumatized as a young child, a baby even, so sometimes it is difficult for me to get to the root of an issue. I do think this fear stems from the constant teasing and belittling I received as a child just learning new things. Every time I would naively make a mistake I was laughed at and made fun of. I remember being called stupid, by older brothers, this was an every day occurrence. Even being pushed down and being called dumb, stupid, an idiot while being laughed at. This was during my first learning experiences, I was as little as 1 and 2 years old and it continued well into my teenage years.
Every time I showed any sort of emotion or weakness I received the same treatment. Only now the word “girl” was tagged on it. Cry baby girl, stupid girl, weakling girl, silly girl… yep, my childhood was not good. It was so bad in fact, I am a 51 year old woman still sorting through the rubble and trying to get back to me. I will get there.
On our journey up the mountain we can find ourselves stuck in tubs or puddles and we can also find that we have been traveling with a bunch of rocks or old fears and traumas in our pockets.
It takes time to heal. I wish there was a magical one click fix to self healing. This big AHA that washes it all away at once and we are left with nothing but the pure essence of us. I haven’t found that yet, and I have looked. We must put in the work to restore ourselves much like we would an old house.
My load is a lot lighter than when I first started this self healing journey. I am walking at a pretty brisk pace up the mountain now, and I am even able to help others, but that is not enough for me. I want to DANCE!
I am thinking I will use Thursdays to participate in some of the fun creative challenges WordPress bloggers offer. A little reminder to myself and others that you HAVE to make time for fun in your life. Make time for the things that bring you joy and spark that creative fire within you!
One of those things for me is photography, I enjoy capturing little glimpses of the world around me in photos. It makes me happy, and helps me to slow down and focus on this present moment. Unfortunately, it is also something that I tend to let go when life gets stressful. I need to stop that.
Here are my offerings for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. The series is called The Way Things Appear and this weeks prompt is Shiny.
These are all photos from my archives but my goal is to get my camera back out and start taking new photos for these challenges. Thank you Cee for the inspiration!
It is time to take a good long look at it, acknowledge it and own it. Yes, this is MY problem. I created it. I alone am able to get myself out of it.
Wait a minute… What?! I created it?! Oh no missy I didn’t create this! I am the victim here. I am here because of what others have done to me. You don’t understand what I have been through. Are you finding yourself saying or thinking thoughts like these?
It is difficult to begin to take personal responsibility for where we are in life, especially if we come from abusive childhoods or backgrounds. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and neglect. I do understand how our pasts can mold and shape so many negative patterns and how that seems to be “THEIR” fault.
Let me assure you, this is not about excusing anyone else’s behavior. This is about taking back your power, taking back ownership of your life. You have to OWN IT! Take it back! This is MY big ugly life and this is how I got here, these are the choices I made to get myself here. Until you OWN IT you do not have the power to change it.
Are you having difficulty letting go of blaming others for where you are now? This can be a hard thing to conquer. I know many people who stay in this victim mode their whole lives. They never move on. They are convinced that they will never be able to move on because of the damage that has been done. For most of us letting go of blaming others is as easy as a choice.
Am I going to lay here in this tub wallowing and splashing about stuck forever because THEY hurt me and THEY wont fix it? or Am I going to take personal responsibility for where I am and quit waiting for someone else to save me?
You have to come to the realization that to stay in that place of blaming others for YOUR life means you are still giving power to your abuser or the person that hurt you. Why would you want to give them one more second of control over your life?
Step #2 – OWN IT, is a HUGE step. It is the catalyst for getting out of whatever tub you find yourself in. It is a gathering of your power in order to prepare you for the next step STAND UP
We have many reasons why we have convinced ourselves we are stuck. Some are true, some are not. We often make excuses and put the blame on others as a way to protect ourselves from feeling blame or feeling like failures, this is usually a deeper issue from childhood that eventually will need to be addressed.
The truth is, we are where we are because of choices we have made. Either knowingly or unknowingly. Out of our OWN stubbornness, our OWN fear, our OWN naivety, our OWN rebellion, our OWN inexperience we make poor choices. Do you know what? EVERYONE MAKES BAD CHOICES! We all do! The difference between those who live happy and fulfilled lives and those who remain stuck is how quick we are to OWN our poor choices and how quickly we correct ourselves.
Change always begins within our thoughts. You have to want the change so bad that you are not only willing but excited to do the work it is going to take to stand up and get out of the tub and back to fully living. Until you really want to and you are ready to do the hard work to heal you will continue to slip back into the tub.
You HAVE TO be HONEST. 100% Honest with yourself and you have to OWN IT, with No excuses and No blame. This is my life, MINE, no one else has the power to change it but me. My choices got me here and my choices will decide where I will be in the future.
OWN IT! Take responsibility for it, take back your power. Until you do, you can not move on.
When we begin healing ourselves it is important to start taking note of who we really are, what do we like, dislike, what brings us joy, what makes us angry, and how do we really feel about things. Why do I say REALLY? I say REALLY because so often we lose sight of our own feelings in order to please and keep others happy. We take on the likes and preferences of others in order to be accepted, to avoid conflict, to fit in or to feel admired. Often times we are groomed since childhood to do certain things and think a certain way, but, if we look and examine our true hearts we find out that these thoughts feelings and behaviors are taught or learned and they often are in conflict with our inner selves.
I am going to start using Monday’s blog post to start asking and answering questions about ourselves. I will call it Know Myself Monday. If you decide to use the Know Myself journal prompt for a blog post, please link me in it or comment with a link to your post or just answer in a comment! I would love to read your answers and get to know the real you!
Know Thyself Monday #1
How do you like your eggs?
Do you remember this scene from the movie Runaway Bride?
I remember watching this scene and it brought me to tears. At that time, I had been married for 11 years and I was a young mother with children ages 2 and 6. For my whole whole life, I had been taught that my main purpose was to make others happy, that the happiness and comfort of others was more important than my own. My life was filled with family and friends who called on me whenever they needed “help”. It seemed I was constantly cleaning up other peoples messes, my children’s messes, my husband’s messes, my sibling’s messes, my parents messes. I was so busy helping other people out of their self made messes, that I was drowning in my own and no one seemed to notice or care.
I decorated the house the way my husband wanted. I cooked food my husband and kids wanted and if I had company I cooked their favorite food. I filled my days with doing things that made other people happy and made their lives easier. Even my job was helping my parents with THEIR business.
I was running in this auto-pilot mode and I had totally lost myself, who I was, want I wanted, my hopes and my dreams. I was very depressed and emotionally numb. I look back and I feel hurt that no one noticed or cared. Truthfully though, it was my fault. I am good at putting on a convincing smile and upbeat attitude. I was the one that would not tell others when I was was tired and I was the one that avoided conflict by only doing what made others happy. Those were my choices. It is always our choices that lead to wherever we are. Thankfully our choices can lead us to where we want to be as well!
My life has changed significantly since then, not overnight but with small steps. It is still changing as I dig deeper into who I am and just what makes me tick. My path back to me started in part due to this simple question, and this Mondays Know Myself journal prompt.
How do I like my eggs?
Eggs are iffy with me right now as I transition into a plant based lifestyle. I will most likely cut them out of my diet completely, eventually. For now, if I eat eggs, they must be from a source that honors the hens as sentient beings, they must be compassionately cared for, organically fed and not killed if they stop laying.
I enjoy eggs many ways. Fried or poached medium well, whites must be fully cooked (no slime) and the yolks must still be soft. I also like them scrambled and soft boiled.
I do not particularly enjoy omelettes, I would rather have a scramble with veggies. I do enjoy a good hollandaise sauce and egg custard is just yum.
What is Creative Flow writing? It is a space of creating where you get out of your own way. You drop the need for perfection, for pretty or eloquent and you just write where your intuition leads and describe the picture your inner self paints.
You see, so many times we create with this preconceived idea of where we want the story to go or how we want the picture to look like. Which is all well and good for certain kinds of creating. When we are creating for our freedom though, we must drop this idea of appearing perfect to the world. We have to move past our fears and let our hearts speak their truth.
This can be difficult. There can be so many reasons that we hold ourselves back and do not create with total honesty. We may fear hurting someones feelings, someones rejection, feeling too exposed, being made fun of. All of these reasons have applied to me. We have so many fears and so many reasons for those fears. But to get out of the “tub” and back on our path we have to face these fears and we can only do that if we acknowledge them.
So, while you are writing, if you come to a thought that you are afraid to write down, just stay there a moment and ask, “what am I fearing by exposing this thought”? You don’t even have to write the thought down, just make a space for it and try to define the fear, like : _____________________________,( I am afraid of hurting their feelings). This way, you will remember the thought. I do encourage you to write it down anyways, but I understand if you can not… yet. We will discuss fears another day. For now, just begin to acknowledge them and journal them as you discover them,
A big fear for me when writing is hurting someone elses feelings. We are often hurt the most by those we love. So to speak openly about our anger or disappointment about them feels like a betrayal. You know how it is, I can say “my sister is being a total bitch” but I don’t want anyone saying “you’re sister is a total bitch.” They don’t know her! They have no right to judge her! This may stop me from writing something perceived as negative towards a person.
Let’s begin a creative flow writing to help discover and expound on the “tub” we are in. ( Reading this will help explain the meaning of the tub) This writing is helpful because you do not have to use any names or specifics. The picture is all metaphoric. The body of water is the pressing problem, what it feels like how it looks and what is in the water is all representing your unique circumstance.
Find a quiet, safe place where you can be comfortable and uninterrupted. Take some deep breaths and just allow your body to relax. Focus on your breathing, breath in… breath out. Just relax and allow yourself to be in this moment without anything pulling on you. There is nothing in the past that you have to fix, there is nothing in the future that you have to worry about. There is just this moment right here and now. Take a few minutes to really let yourself enter that space.
Once you are there, begin thinking about your most pressing problem,
What is the problem that has you feel like you are stuck or drowning?
Be as specific as you can. For example: I can’t pay may bills! I am overweight and feel like I can’t lose it! I am in an abusive relationship and can’t find my way out! I am sick!
You may have many issues but lets just focus on one. What is troubling you most today?
I am feeling…
Thinking about the problem may make you start to feel anxious, scared, sad, angry, all kinds of emotions may appear. Acknowledge these feelings but do not get stuck in them just write them down. Are you feeling scared, stuck, angry, silly even? Write these down in a stream of consciousness, do not worry about punctuation correct sentence structure just let your inner self tell you how this feels and get it down on paper.
Now, Imagine this problem is a body of water and you are floating in it. You are now in a safe place and you do not have to splash about or feel afraid. Just allow yourself to float and observe. Use your senses to see, smell, taste, hear, and feel what is around you. Begin to put what you discover in this relaxed state into words, just start writing…try not to force it, go with your first thought. This may take some practice as we often tend to second guess ourselves.
I am floating in….
Describe where you are floating. Is it a shallow garden tub or a different vessel? It may be a lake, and ocean, or even a swamp. What you originally thought was an ocean may now be just a tub. Just write the picture your inner self paints. There is no right or wrong be honest with yourself. Don’t make it bigger or smaller than it originally appeared to you as.
How does this feel as you are floating in it, without splashing about and fighting it, just observing it?
Does it look different now that you aren’t splashing about?
What does the vessel FEEL like?
Can you feel the sides on your body? Are the sides smooth, rough? Can you touch the bottom? Can you reach the top? Is the water hot, cold warm? What color is the water? Is it clear, murky dirty? Are there other things in the water, plants, fish, monsters?
Can you hear anything? Smell anything?
Just calmly observe, and write what down everything you see or feel. Be careful not to second guess your words. You are not writing a story to be published or graded. You are just letting your heart tell you how it is really feeling about this situation as it paints this picture without your critical self trying to change it.
When you are done writing just sit with it for a moment. How are you feeling about what you wrote? Were you 100% honest? Did you pretty it up or did you over dramatize? If you did, it is okay, no one is going to judge or even read this unless you want them to. Just ask yourself why, what fear kept you from writing down the calm truth of the situation? If we can not begin to be 100% honest with ourselves we will not be able to make the changes we need to make to free ourselves.
That is it. That is creative flow writing. It may take practice to learn to get out of your own head and just let the words flow from thought to paper without being edited by the inner critic or editor first. Keep practicing.
If you are not into creative writing, no worries, you can just write the real life answers to the questions. Some people find creative writing a safer way to express their inner selves and enjoy looking at our inner landscapes in a creative way, some do not. The important part is to just be HONEST about the situation you are in. Don’t over dramatize, don’t play a serious issue down.
I would love to hear from you! If you feel comfortable sharing an aha moment you may have had while doing this exercise, or if you have questions, please do comment!
Also, BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF! NO SHAME NO BLAME! Soul work can be difficult. No beating yourself up over where you are! You are right where you need to be to learn the lessons you need to learn to pull yourself out of that tub and then to use what you learn to help someone else out of their tub. We are ALL drowning buddhas! I do not know a single person that truly has it all figured out. So just relax, you’ve got this, you are not alone!
If you want to follow along with me in this journey of Saving Ourselves, a journal or notepad is a necessity. It is very healing to write honestly in a journal. Putting these things on paper helps solidify the reality of a situation instead of it running wild in our minds. The key here is to be completely honest with yourself. Think of this journal as a letter you write to yourself. In the journal you will be creating a map that is going to take you to your place of freedom and bliss. If you are not honest then you will never find your way.
Rule number 1 on the path to saving ourselves:
Honesty. Speak only the truth.
Today we will begin defining what is holding us back. What is it that has you feeling like you are drowning? What are you splashing around about?
For each of us this is going to look different depending on where on the path we are. Your tub may be depression or anxiety. It may be a weight problem, an abusive relationship, childhood trauma, drug addiction, anger issues, there are so many experiences that we get stuck in. What is the negative experience that you seem to just keep slipping back into?
Here’s a secret, but one you and everyone already knows… Nothing will change unless YOU change. You have the power within you, to not only stand up, but to get out of the tub and leave it far behind. Others can help show us the way, show us how it is done, but each of us must do the work ourselves to heal ourselves. We must stand up on our own. If we do not find this strength within our selves and make the changes necessary to heal and strengthen ourselves then, no matter how much someone tries to help us stand, we will keep falling back into old habits and conditions.
All of that splashing about as if we are drowning is an illusion. Stop splashing for a moment. Calm yourself and take a look at “the tub” you are in. How deep is it really? How desperate is your situation, honestly? Honestly, without fear of judgment, blame, shame, or anything else you may fear, take a long hard look at the facts of your “tub.”
In our journals we are going to honestly, openly, and courageously explore our “tub”.
Define the “tub”. What is the most pressing issue that is holding you back? I say “the most pressing” because we must acknowledge that there may be many issues that have us stuck. I want you to think about the one thing at this moment that if you could change it would make the most difference in your life.
How deep is your “tub”? Let’s just stop splashing about for a moment. Find a safe space where you can get calm. Imagine yourself releasing the fear of drowning and just relax. How deep is the tub, honestly?
Perhaps, with all the water splashing (self made drama or honest panicking), you have convinced yourself that the tub is deeper than it really is. Perhaps the tub is really deep and it is going to take a little more work to get out of it. You may feel like it is more than just a tub and you feel like this issue is an ocean and you are in danger of drowning. The truth is, sometimes we make a little problem into a BIG one and sometimes, all these little problems are a result of a much deeper issue. It is time to get honest with yourself.
Now, I want you to do this observation in a no shame, no blame way. That means I do not want you to blame or beat yourself up and I also do not want you to blame or beat someone else up. Just look around you at this moment and define where you are in a non-emotional, matter of fact way. Can we do that? What is holding you back, what are the underlying issues that are hindering you from getting out of this tub?
Before we begin writing in our journals I would like for us to make a vow to ourselves. A vow that we will be 100% honest in these journals. No one else is going to see them. You can hide them keep them secret, keep them in a locked file on your computer what ever you have to do so you feel safe being totally honest with yourself.
On the first page of your journal, I ask that you make a commitment to yourself. You can write your own or you can use the following one. The most important thing is that you make SAVING YOURSELF a priority and commit to doing the honest work that this journey takes.
I, _________________________, commit to this journey of saving myself. I acknowledge that I alone can change myself and therefore change my circumstances.
I promise that I will be 100% honest and transparent in this journal. Without honesty there can be no change.
I promise that I will be gentle with myself and others as I heal old wounds.
I acknowledge that I am capable of changing my life, that I can live a peaceful and fulfilled life, and most importantly that I AM WORTH IT! I deserve to live my best life possible.
How do I feel about being 100% honest with myself? Am I? Can I be? If I am not, what is it that I fear that keeps me from being honest with myself?
What is it that has me feeling like I am drowning? The most pressing problem?
What is the negative experience that I seem to just keep slipping back into?
How serious is this problem? How deep is your tub really?
I would love to hear from you! Leave comments or questions below. Respectfully of course. Bullying or trolling of any kind will not be tolerated.
Tomorrow I will lead you in a creative flow writing exercise that will help further define your “tub”.
And now…. The disclaimer:
I am not a professional counselor and I hold no degrees in mental health or psychiatry. What I am is a person that has suffered much in this life and I have learned skills that have helped me keep moving forward in a positive and hopeful way. It is my desire to help others along this weird life journey that we are on together. I want to give hope to the weary and strength to those who may be struggling by sharing the tools that I have learned along the way.
If you are a person in true crisis please reach out to someone close to you or call one of the many hotlines available. You are never alone. You are loved. You are here for a purpose!