Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Distilling It Down

Observing my father towards the end of his life, I had the feeling that his personality traits were becoming more and more vivid.  It was as if he was distilling down to the essence of who he was.  Like many of his generation, he hadn’t pursued a life of deep introspection or psychological insight, so much of what he manifested was not terribly positive.  (Sorry, Dad – I loved you all the same).  Now, as I am growing into elderhood myself, I’ve begun to wonder if a similar thing is happening to me.  I can’t say I’m thrilled about it, but it does make the inner work pretty obvious. 

I’ve written before - lots - about being fear-based.  Fear has become my regular companion lately.  These last six months, with all of the transitions and changes, have found me lurching from one fear to the next.  The smaller ones I am sometimes able to breathe through and either drop or at least shake my head at myself about.  AGAIN?  REALLY?

The bigger ones are harder.  I tell myself that if everything works out okay with this one, I will relax and not get so freaked out next time.  And then there’s a next time, and I can’t live up to that.  What I’m noticing is how many next times there are.  Lots and lots of them.  I’ve tried to explain to Barry that it’s like this: I try to calm myself, but I don’t seem to get enough time and space to really drop deeply down.  So, my nerves only settle so far.  Then, when the next stressor strikes, I’m quickly over the top again.  I do hope that a more peaceful period will come in the near future, but there’s no guarantee.  Who knows?  We work with what we’re given.  Tra-la!

I read a great blog post today by Martin Shaw, a wonderful storyteller, writer, and all-around wise person.  He was talking about giant energy.  The giant is what we’ve stuffed down into the basement, what we don’t like about ourselves.  It reminds me of Robert Bly’s idea of the black bag we drag behind us that has everything we learned not to look at or deal with.  But I especially like the image of the giant.  As much as I’ve tried to shove the fear giant down there, he’s bound to try to push his way back up.  What else would a giant do?

Figuring out how to relate to my giant may be the best thing I can do to avoid distilling down to nothing but a scared old lady.  If it’s true that we become more of who we are as we age, let it be the best of us.

Our Day of the Dead ritual is only 3 days away.  Boy, do I have some stuff to give over to the water shrine!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Small Victories Are Good

Waiting is a funny thing.  There’s so much to do, and yet there’s not much I can do yet. 

We bought our duplex.  Finally!  Escrow closed last Friday.  But the sellers are renting back for a week or two until their new apartment is ready, and so we’re still here in ours.  Don’t get me wrong - I like it here.  I will miss College Avenue and Elmwood.  It has been a comfy, interesting place to be.  But I so want to move and get settled.  And until we can get the foundation work completed, I’ll probably continue being a little nervous.  When I say it needs foundation work, I’m not kidding – and it’s on a hillside.  Maybe buying this house doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, really, but we like it.  We just need to get it fixed.  And make it ours.  That’s what I look forward to, making it ours.

So, all those places you need to change address and/or service for – can’t do any of that until we know for sure when the former owners will be out.  I know, I know, I need to be patient for a little while longer.  And we do have our Day of the Dead ritual coming up this Saturday, which will take a lot of time and energy.  I thought about starting to pack, but the apartment (or as Ruby says, the “parpanent”) is so small I’m not sure where I could put the boxes. 

The good news is we’ve really gotten used to living in a small space, so even though the duplex is definitely downsizing from Bay Road, it’s upsizing from here!

I went to Spiral Dance this year for the first time in a number of years.  The spiral dance itself is wonderful, and the altars were great.  I think I am done with it, though (even if Barry isn’t).  I never got pulled in to the ritual, and I miss the old music that they’ve scrapped.  Fortunately, there are many other options around here for observing the Day of the Dead, including our own.

I am very grateful for my Monday evening women’s meditation group and for my Wednesday evening Song Circles with Jennifer Berezan.  They are both helping me stay sane and giving me times to breathe and settle into myself.  Both have a Buddhist flavor to them, and I am appreciating the emphasis on softening around whatever feelings are arising.  And also on being kinder to myself.  I caught myself getting really pissed off yesterday when I realized I was falling into my usual fear state, but I was actually able to chill out on the negative self-talk.  Small victories are good, I guess.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Bear in the Living Room

I haven’t written since we first moved to Berkeley.  It’s been a busy time.  There was a wedding (beautiful and magical) and family in town.  And relentless house hunting and being outbid on the first three offers we made.   So, due to all the activity, you might have the impression that this period of hanging out with Hecate at the crossroads is over.  Not so.  I am still here (maybe at a slightly different “here”), sitting with her again, in this liminal space.  I am working on accepting that, trying to remember to exhale deeply and release, as often as possible.

I have a little personal tradition of drawing one of my SoulCollage® cards at the solstices and equinoxes – something to guide me and reflect on for that next season.  I call the one I drew for this fall, “Why I Became a Six.”  (Sorry for the quality - it's an iPhone shot.) This only makes sense if you know the Enneagram, a personality typing system that I like a lot.  Unlike other such systems, the Enneagram has a lot of complexity and depth; it is not simplistic.  I won’t get into a lot of explanation about it here, but will just say that of the nine basic types, I am a six, which essentially means that I am fear-based; my habitual reaction to things is to go into fear.  It is a challenge, and I am heartily sick of myself in this regard. 

Maybe you know what I mean.  Can I get an “Amen”?

What the card says to me at this moment is:  I am one who is very scared.  Something large and frightening is right in the middle of my house, and I am expected to accept it and treat it as if it is no big deal.  But, to me, it is a very big deal, and others’ (meaning my parents’) acceptance of this as okay and normal is crazy-making to me.

Talk about the bear in the living room!

So, I view this next few months as a time to look at my fears, understand why I have them (although this may or may not be so important), and attempt to release the hold that fear has on me.  Hecate’s handed me a big one here, I think.  A life’s work.  Really, haven’t I been working on this for most of my adult life?  Geez, does it ever end?

More specifically, though, the card is a stunningly accurate representation of my fear and what is in the middle of the potential house we are trying to buy.  It needs some big foundation work, more than we knew when we bid on it.  There is a big bear in the middle of this house.  Will we get it?  I don’t know.  Waiting.  Hecate.  Tra-la!

I have to say that I really am loving being in Berkeley.  Barry, too.  He’s been hiking around getting to know the adjacent neighborhoods and having a great time.  My foot is healing and I’m starting to be able to walk more.  I finally saw a physical therapist and she helped a lot.  I’m also working with a new naturopath/homeopath, got a new HMO doc (who is interested in alternative medicine – yay!) and will soon see a new biologic dentist to finally get the last of my amalgam fillings removed (which the naturopath thinks will help my health).  My friend Marcia invited me to a women’s meditation group, and we are starting to visit with friends here.  This all doesn’t sound like Limbo, but until we really and truly are settled into a house, I am still hanging out with Hecate.  And maybe even after.  Who knows?   Not me!  Tra-la!