Mid Life Blog

My main purpose for starting a blog at this moment in time is to consciously seek and write about small and big sources of inspiration no matter what.  I have no idea if it will be of interest to anyone else or entertaining in the least – I only know I need to start something new that holds me accountable to seek hope and inspiration and “moving toward the light” of life.

The people and social movements who inspire me will be in these pages, as well as recipes that make me smile, wisdom to live by, books that taught me something, and some factoids about a single parent who finds herself in mid life just like all those others out there, making it through another day spinning through our universe.  ~ (October 2011)

By Erin Waterman

Meditation

 IMG_0771

 

Meditation

Skipping meditation class

I leave the house.  My sanctuary awaits,

a lawn to mow, winter’s dry branches to cut.

Prepared for enlightenment,

I slip my camera in my sweatshirt pocket

and start pushing.

 

One row done.  May all beings be peaceful.

 

Why does she always complain about what will happen tomorrow?

Oy vey, I have enough kvetching of my own.

Gutn tog!  My distant Jewish ancestors wave.

 

One row done.  May all beings be filled with Loving Kindness.

 

My paid job has become like walking across burning sand,

which might not be half bad if you have a camel and a guide

like Paul Salopek circumambulating humanity’s Eden.

 

Two rows done.  May all beings be safe.

 

Push, push, push.  Three rows done.

 

Observe last year’s fuscias that should have been cut back in fall.

No time like the present.  Stop mower, pick up shears.

Look at these bluebells and grape hyacinths full color, doing what they do best.

Honeysuckle needs a tendril trim and whatever this crazy fan-shaped plant is here.

A whoosh and twitter in my ear.  I look up to witness a red hummingbird

summit the cherry tree, and distant mountains.  Oh the mountains!

Almost twilight, the snow caps are pink.  Time to capture their light.  Click!

Back to the beastly mower.

 

Push, push, push.  Two more rows. May all beings be free.

 

Tired of being my own superhero, saving myself over and over.

This lawn won’t mow itself, you know.

 

Two more rows.

 

Never brave enough to commit to a single religion, I commit to practices of several.

Maybe I should be a nun.  You know what the Dalai Lama says,

“Practice kindness whenever possible.  It is always possible.”

Do you suppose the Dalai Lama is ever unkind?  Unintentionally?  To himself?

Would it not be a superhuman power to be kind every single waking moment of a life?

Sounds exhausting, though possibly not as tiring as this mower.

 

Five more rows.

 

Observe the fading light.

And stiffness in the back from the mower’s awkward angle.

Mind is stronger than body.

 

Two more rows.

 

Control is an illusion, so why do we carry visions?

What we want to do and how to be.  What to do with those

experiences we did not want but had anyway?

 

Life is some ginormous schoolroom universe,

hurling lessons from the asteroid belt

and the occasional programmed orbit of a satellite

Looking down on this smooth lawn.

 

IMG_0766

 

IMG_0767

 

IMG_0770

Learning Compassion

IMG_0721

Agree with me or not, your attention is the only attention you really value and need. We think what we want is “out there”, from someone else (some unattainable love from someone who is seeking it from others too) — but we are the only ones we want. We have for so long been abandoned in the process of socialization to seek the attention of others. When in reality, it’s our own attention that matters.  ~ an artist/coach

Reading this statement spoke to my core and begged the question: “What is the purpose of friendship and close relationship?”

I meditated on this question for nearly four hours before it hit me.

Every friendship and intimate relationship in my life did not last because I had no bedrock foundation of daily self love.  I allowed myself to become subsumed by the other person’s life direction, neglected my own self-attention, felt swallowed by the other’s emotions, and began to only be able to see through that person’s lens, losing my own binoculars to see the distance.  How do I want to be was not even a question that entered my mind.  Until now.

I am now choosing my own daily ways of being, and these are my non-negotiables.  Things I will not give up even if and especially if I am involved with anyone on a daily basis.

We have far more power than we recognize to heal our own wounds.  We each can choose to heal any past point in time we felt not heard, not acknowledged, neglected, or misunderstood by another person in our lives simply by giving ourselves the attention we wanted in those moments!  Revelation!

 

EVIDENCE

In meditation, all the evidence in my life for the truth in the quote above floated to my awareness.

A mandatory statewide parenting seminar for divorced people where I learned that 75% of all divorcees become involved in either relationships or marriages within two years of a divorce, and 90% of those subsequent marriages end in divorce.

A “Science of Love” interview project with random single people on the street (44% of American adults are single), surprised to find out of dozens ALL the singles questioned said they would prefer to be in a relationship than single.  Really?  “They didn’t ask me,” I thought.  Turns out the caveat of the interview question has everything to do with the response they got:  “Would you rather be single or in a relationship. . . assuming the relationship is emotionally healthy and mutually beneficial?” 

Another intuitive flash:  How can we possibly expect almost half of the American population to be capable of emotionally healthy and mutually beneficial relationships if they have NOT learned ways to unconditionally love themselves and make their own emotional health and stability non-negotiable?


IMG_0708

FRIENDSHIPS

If we agree the primary attention and embrace we want is our own unconditional love (including of frustrations and bumps along the way), then I understand the purpose of friendships to be important means to greater self-awareness.  People enter our lives with lessons we may never fully grasp.  But they do cross our life path time and time again.

We get to listen.  We get to practice giving the love and attention we know we want to experience to the mystery outside ourselves.  We get to view others with the same compassionate lens we would like to view ourselves and lend a hand as we are able to lift someone else up.

So even as it is essential for us to listen to our hearts far more than we are encouraged to do in our society, it is also true that listening to others by simply holding them with our presence gives us something important in return, whether or not we “fix a problem” or “take action.”

In addition, we all are vulnerable beings a single crisis away from being unable to attend to ourselves fully.  For this reason, we need support of friendships in times we are unable to see the forest for the trees.

 

IMG_0722

 

TRUTHS

If you want to experience peace, you must find peace in yourself.

If you want to feel loved, you must love yourself.

If you want to be happy, you must work to create your own happiness.

 

IMG_0719

TAPPING IN

I am committed to daily actions I can take to access the above truths.  Here is my list of non-negotiable daily acts in case it helps anyone develop their list:

~ Meditate a minimum of 15 minutes a day to experience awareness and allow solutions to “arise.”

~ Tell myself “You are doing the best you can do in this moment” at least once each day.

~ Walk 30 minutes a day.

~ Consciously connect to the natural world since that is where I personally experience all things people speak of wanting in healthy human relationships:  I feel unconditionally loved, accepted, enthralled by beauty, connected to source, and listened to.  I understand myself to be wired to experience greater love in this form rather than via another human being, and I work to accept that about myself.

~ Write something, a piece of a poem, a sentence, a journal about an intuitive flash, a book to publish with potential to bring my life’s purpose to greater light.

~ Eat only nutrients that encourage my health and practice joy preparing them.

~ Support growth of something, a seedling, a plant, a thought, a friend, my child.

~ Work to change patterns of thought and action I want to change as soon as I become aware of them.  Example:  I became aware I react to encouragement by interpreting it as pressure. This means I tend to reject encouragement from others and myself.  Yet, I routinely and happily encourage others!  When I consider how much encouragement I have rejected over a lifetime, I understand this as a pattern I would like to change to be replaced by gratitude.

~ Make note of 3 gratitudes daily.

~ Set a timer to breathe deeply every 10 minutes while at the computer screen.

 

IMG_0710

WE Day

Sometimes our children thrive in spite of what we might think are inadequacies as parents.

I have been having lots of feelings lately of awe and humility watching mine.  Amid the usual frustration of sloth-like teen transformation when asked to do something like, for example, clean a room.  

Last month she attended the 30+ year Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival for the first time.  Next month she represents her school in our state National Geographic Geography Bee for the 2nd year in a row.  And today she was one of 20 students with evidence of “leadership skills” to attend WE Day. 

What is WE Day?  Watch this video that brought tears to my eyes and find out.  I had no idea until today about the lineup of speakers and now I see why she was so excited she was pacing.  Each student present is asked to bring 3 cans of food.  I can barely imagine how many millions of pounds of food that represents for the food banks!

That Thing Called Love

IMG_0577(Photo taken last night – see how Love has been showing up everywhere for me?)

I have been doing much thinking on Love lately and how most of what we learn about or hear about Love seems completely inadequate and inaccurate.  Love as energy that runs through and between us in countless ways.  Love of ourselves that is essential for every other Love.  And why we fear loving ourselves so much and then project that fear onto everyone else’s Love.  

1911768_820848414609950_1789544843_nME ANNIVERSARY

Though at this point it looks unlikely I will be able to afford a vacation in 2014, in June 2013 I took a solo weekend hike on a trail I had been wanting to return to for 25 years.  After reading SARK’s example from her Succulent Wild Woman book, “Marry yourself first – promise never to leave you!”  I did just what she described.  I held a little marriage ceremony for myself and got an inexpensive ring of silver leaves and a flower that reminds me to never forget my love for myself and my self’s connection to the natural world.  Ironically, SARK met the love of her life 3 months following her “marriage ceremony” but that is beside her point.

Or maybe it is her point.

It may seem incredibly strange to marry oneself to some, but my daughter thinks it’s kind of cool, and I think everyone could benefit from it

(even if you are married to someone else)

You can find SARK here:

PLANET SARK

1947785_489191834519143_888029202_n

For great articulation of this nearly wordless concept, Love, read this blog post, “Love is a Verb” from Occupy Love,starting with this Buckminster Fuller quote that resonates to my bones: 

‎”I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.” ~ Buckminster Fuller

New WIGS

As followup to my post of a few days ago, Power of the Blog, it feels like time to post three more WIGS.  I do not mean hair pieces, as I have plenty where that came from.  I mean Wildly Improbable Goals, as termed by life coach, Martha Beck.

Thanks for asking, Universe! ; )

IMG_0284ONE:  My Healing Outdoors: Care for the Caregiver book will be completed, published and function as a stepping stone to a livelihood working in some way outdoors serving people through life experience and nature reconnection, writing, walking. 

dfa92ae96772e73daa306c9c90dc507f

TWO:  I will find my peeps (already in process!) so my outer and inner support increases toward making my livelihood vision a reality.

IMG_0258

(Drawing thanks to daughter at age 10 – includes a tree that grows chocolate for me!)

THREE:  I will encounter financial support and technical know-how to build a structure to keep out deer, rabbits, raccoons, birds in order to sow a thriving garden at my current rental home and/or other community space that will allow me to share some of the harvest with my community’s food bank and provide a source of organic veggies for me and child.  Maybe this will improve the chances of a miracle and the teen will start to eat vegetables!

images

?FOUR?: A 4th WIG is described in my blog tab “Long Walk” in which I hope to train toward hiking a long stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2020 for charity, but that is my longest term goal and least likely with my lack of equipment, funding, training time, so I am focusing on more immediate top 3 wish priorities. 

Tuning Into Heart’s Voice

carlicam 130

Even though I meditate daily to let thoughts go and drift, I had no idea how much I live captive to the mind’s voices until I took Alex Mill’s Heart-to-Heart Self Mentoring e-mail course.

My biggest breakthrough so far has arrived on the back of this ugly voice:

“You will never be successful.”

I wrote down all sorts of responses to this voice, trying to understand how it arrived and why it has stayed inside my head my entire life.  I came up with:

  • A movie that reminded me of what I was trying to say.
  • Philosophies about success.
  • All the family and societal reasons I could not be successful.
  • All the reasons I reject success.
  • I threw up my hands at the entire process of trying to get at the root of this voice I have heard my entire life.  It felt like a tangled ball of twine all jumbled.

Until I was guided to tune into the heart’s voice, and it was shaky through the tears.

The heart said:

“You arrived on this amazing planet, a little being powerfully connected to all trees, mountains, sand, water forms, plants, animals, sunrises, sunsets, moon, stars, sun.  Everyone around you was working so hard to be successful.  Exhausted, frustrated, irritated.  But you wanted to sit for hours letting sand run through your fingers, observe beetles, leaves, listen to trees, watch sky.  You thought you had to give up your purpose for being here to be successful.  Now you are remembering.  You are joining those who are awake.”

If you want a new way to live, I cannot recommend this e-course more.

Each person learns exactly what they need to learn.  For me it has been how to get out of my head’s incessant jabber and listen to my heart’s voice.

I can choose to listen to my heart’s voice any time because I record what it has to say and play it back.  It is an empowered way to be in the world – listening to your own heart.

Power of the Blog

IF YOU HAD A GENIE WHO FULFILLED 3 WISHES FOR YOU, WHAT WOULD THEY BE? 

Time for some celebration and gratitude for the little voice I listened to in October 2011 to go ahead and start a blog.  Even though I had no idea what I was doing.

It dawned on me today that the three wishes I mentioned in my ABOUT section of this blog have been accomplished last month!  And that, my friends, is the Power of the Blog.  Would I have accomplished any of these things had I not written them down publicly?  Maybe.  But I do have a record I can refer to now to see how each of my intentions became a reality, and it feels very good to see one at a time, each a year apart, happen in their own time.

WISH #1:  If financial circumstances would allow my first vacation from work in 5 years, I would do a walking tour of some state or country and publish a book about my observations.

REALITY:  In August 2012 I had my first 5 days vacation in 5 years, and again in June 2013.  Hallelujah!

WISH #2:  My biggest WIG (wildly improbable goal), to borrow a phrase from life coach, Martha Beck, is to walk some great distance to raise funds for childhood cancer research.

REALITY:  In November 2013 I walked my own designed marathon distance (26 miles in 10 hours) to raise funds for CureSearch.

WISH #3:  I plan to publish a book of poems when I am 80.

REALITY:  In February 2014 I published my first book of poetry!  And I was not 80 years old!

I now need to come up with some new wishes for the wish-granting genie!

Witness

I just saw the film “Elemental” and found it to be the most profound I have seen to date.   And I have seen a lot of documentaries and movies in my lifetime.

My heart broke open in witness to the lives of these 3 committed visionary people, and I cried more tears than would fill a tissue box.  Oh great, you say, why should I watch a film that will make me cry for 2 hours?  Possibly you won’t react the way I did.

Why do we turn away so easily at this tremendous grief we are going through as a nature-disconnected society?  I feel it is more important for us to allow ourselves to channel this grief through us.   And then stand.

The film does not point fingers, except possibly to the idea that corporations are NOT people and never will be.

The film ends in hope for solidarity, community action, and the power of reawakening the seed of caring for Mother Life within us.  It also acknowledges the complexities of our limited choices in our way of life.  If we need to pay rent, have a car, fly in an airplane, eat fast food (as even the activists in the film do), support ourselves in our nature-disconnected ways, how many choices do we really have?

As humans on a spinning piece of rock through the universe, if we need to do something about the atmosphere we are disrupting, this film includes one possible engineering biomimicry solution, but does not touch the foundation of the lifestyle that creates the pollution.  What choices do we really have short of changing our entire way of life and returning fully to nature’s patient support?  That’s too extreme, right?

Part of why this film touched my heart so deeply was my own experience of watching children go through treatment for cancers from possible environmental causes, and spending most of a year living among primarily Native Americans and Hispanic people from communities directly impacted by high chemical use and toxic dumping grounds.  While I was living communally with these folks 9 years ago, I was so convinced someone should be alerted to this “cluster” of childhood cancers I was seeing that I contacted a chief epidemiologist (folks who study disease patterns and causes in populations) at my local university to ask what he thought about the numbers I reported.  He responded that “clusters” are interesting phenomenon that are of little use to epidemiologists as far as cause and effect.

Even though I was shaking my head, I saw his point.  I do understand it would be nearly impossible to test for every toxin out there and determine cause and effects.  But living among this population forever changed my personal awareness of some of the issues facing indigenous populations and agricultural families.  And I did also live with a non-indigenous family who raised their child with cancer completely on well water, far away from a city, with only the best organic foods and no media.  So maybe the big picture is much more complex than we imagine.

The film reinforces all that I know about the healing power of nature and doing some tiny part to help people reconnect.  A hermit at the foot of the Himalayans probably said it best in the film when she spoke of good and evil coexisting and that as long as we do what we do for the love of nature and remain detached from the outcome, our efforts have some chance.  The day I break free of my own cubicle lifestyle that keeps me in the shelter/food/heat/transport game, I will finally be living in harmony with what I experience Earth is trying to tell me.  I wonder if this harmony is even possible anymore for any of us, but I know I have to try in small ways each day to touch it.

Why Does a Yellow Day Often Feel Grey?

carlicam 114

I have synesthesia for days of the week.  Each day is a specific color, many letters are specific colors, and that’s how it has been all my life.  This is one of the many reasons I thoroughly enjoyed reading Daniel Tammet’s autobiography, Born on a Blue Day.

I recently asked my daughter if she perceives anything similar, and it turns out she perceives numbers, certain letter sound combinations, and shapes on maps in distinct colors.  She has ease with numbers and geography, so this suggests to me synesthesia can function as a learning aid.  She even told me she has a sense of irritation or mild frustration when viewing most color-coded maps, because the countries are not depicted in the same color as she perceives they should be.

This got me thinking about how often we assume people around us perceive things our way, when they actually might have an entirely different lens on the world in a very concrete basic way.  These public color experiments prove even basic colors we take for granted are the same for everyone can be perceived differently for each individual.

Anyway, as part of my recent focus on striving toward unconditional love for myself I had the sudden recognition that nearly every Friday, which is YELLOW for me, a “happy” color, I experience emotions ranging from sadness to grief to despair, and I have no idea why.  So if you are trying to unconditionally love yourself, you must embrace all and accept all emotions that arise.  Thus this poem arrived.

Yellow Day

Why do I crash
into Fridays
over and over
tired, sad, lost
wandering at the side
of the road
on the way to somewhere
I’ve forgotten.
Neither here nor there.
Every dime spent.
Every flaw the size of my heart.
Thinking I’d rather go to sleep
and wake up Sunday where
the air is fresh, the sounds silent,
and all the minutes laid out before me
like patient words on a page.

Values and Penguin Sweaters

What in the world do these two things have to do with one another?

Let me tell you.

How is it possible I have made it to my mid-40s without ever making a list of my Values until today?  I have participated in personality tests and all sorts of personal growth workshops but I never listed all my values outside my brain, what the words mean to me, and how I attempt to live with them.   I am listing mine here, not to say “look how great my values are” but rather to encourage a moment of self-awareness by listing your own or see if any interpretations have shifted over time if you made a list in the past.

Okay, now shortly after completing my Values list, I learned of a call to knitting sweaters for penguins affected by oil spills today and it occurred to me that knitting for any animal in rehab is a wonderful way to combine my love of knitting and creativity with my love of the interdependence of all life.   Yes, this appeal has appeared in Snopes as being impossible to know when the numbers of sweaters has reached maximum overload, but I figure maybe a surplus of penguin sweaters is not a bad thing.  Oil spills happen.

images

1) COMPASSION – “co-suffering” – I would like to gather more techniques to bless and release the suffering of myself and others. The Buddha is reported to have said: “It is possible to travel the whole world in search of one who is more worthy of compassion than oneself. No such person can be found.” To manifest effective compassion for others it is necessary to be able to experience and appreciate one’s own suffering and thus have compassion for oneself.

2) SPIRITUAL GROWTH – Keeping open channel to Source for guidance, support and awareness on my path.

3) HUMILITY – I don’t know everything. I may not know anything.

4) FREEDOM – Birthright of each person to discover and work toward their own freedom.

5) HEALTH – Lean toward healthy foods, healthy actions for my mind, body, spirit.

6) CREATIVITY – Strive to allow time and practice for what is emerging.

7) LISTENING – The best way to learn.

8) RESPONSIBILITY – Showing up for those who depend on me, taking responsibility for my choices and actions, acknowledging all choices were made with the best understanding available to me at the time (even those that ended in “disaster”).

9) INTERDEPENDENCE – Constant awareness of “inter-being” of all life so my illusion of self as an island is kept illuminated.

10) LOVE – Striving toward unconditional love for self at all times.

11) HUMOR – Laughing at self and appreciating humor in even the darkest of places is a great survival tool and medicine.