The Search

 

img_3824I have been wandering around all week in search of something. I suppose if I really think about it, I have been searching for a while. I can’t put my finger on it, I can’t tell you what I am searching for, I only know I don’t have it.

People drift in and out of my life, as do people come and go from yours. I have been deliberate with goodbyes and cautious of hellos. I crave that connection from that one person who gets me, understands me inside and out. Who is empathetic and vulnerable and allows me to be vulnerable back. The person who I can ‘click’ with. I crave this person I haven’t met yet. Its been a while since I felt that way about a friend.

I remember back when I was three and my best friend was Tanya. We lived in a townhouse complex with a stand of trees across the tiny parking lot. We spent every waking hour together and ran through the trees like our hair was on fire. Our imagination was what we built our days with. We were our own superheroes and saved humanity every single day from peril. When I turned six we moved to Canada’s Arctic and I lived on the shores of Great Slave Lake. I didn’t find that connection I was seeking like I had when I was 3. I was one of a handful of white kids with the First Nation kids outnumbering us. You’d think this would mean I would experience oppression but no, These kids looked downcast at us and not speak out of fear or something else. Upon 45 years of reflection, I now know they didn’t see me as an equal, they felt inferior.

When I moved back to Alberta, I lived in a community that was white. This was the opposite experience I had from my life in the Arctic. I hadn’t met a good friend or someone I found reliable. People were fine but loneliness was deep. The internal dialogue pounded my brain with “I am ugly, I am stupid, I am unworthy”. When you think that way, people treat you that way. When people treat you that way, you think that way. It is an unending cycle.

As I progressed into junior high and high school, I found a few people who were closer to what I was looking for. My internal dialogue had not changed but I kept it hidden and forged ahead anyway. The pressure to succeed or meet the expectations of my surroundings were great as they are with everyone. Eventually, I pulled away from these people too.

As an adult, I found a couple of people who I could be vulnerable and real with for brief moments. Events happen and suddenly people are scared, hurt or angry and no longer want to be connected. Sometimes it’s onesided. Sometimes them, sometimes me.

So here I am in my early 50’s living a life that isn’t much different from my childhood. People still think they can say things to change me to be what suits them. Hurtful and angry things then wonder why I pull away. It changes dynamics and others ask for proof these people did these things. I wonder if they consider how it must feel to be me. Empathy is the missing ingredient. Everyone is caught up in self. The ego dominates life choices. I can clearly see why they said and did those things. I understand and forgive where it needs to happen. Forgiveness does not mean allowing it to continue. It just means I accept the past could not have been different. REM Had it right with Everybody hurts….sometimes.

Accepting.

Lashing out is the road I used to take. Now I just accept and turn away. It is not easy but it feels better. I don’t live with anger anymore. Meditation changed me. I meditated in 1994 after I left my first husband. It helped tremendously but for some reason, I stopped. Now, I have meditated for 952 consecutive days. I began in the fall of 2016 because the anger and hurt were so intense I had nowhere to put it. I began meditating a couple days a week. It soon became a beautiful way to begin my day. I sat in silence trying to wrangle my thoughts. I would ask myself questions and answers would come. I would ask for direction and it would come. I soon craved a daily practice so I accepted a challenge to meditate every day for a year. I didn’t know where it would take me but I knew I didn’t want to be angry and hateful anymore. I began waking up earlier so I could sit in silence. I began to see this as self-care. Something I deserved to do for myself. Once 365 days passed, I knew I could never stop.

The faces behind the anger began to fade. The reasons I was angry in the first place didn’t disappear but they became insignificant. I changed. Great learnings happened. But I still find myself searching for something. I will let you know when I find it.

 

Everybody Hurts
When your day is long
And the night
The night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life
Well hang on
Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes
Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone (hold on)
(Hold on) if you feel like letting go (hold on)
If you think you’ve had too much
Of this life
Well, hang on
‘Cause everybody hurts
Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts
Don’t throw your hand
Oh, no
Don’t throw your hand
If you feel like you’re alone
No, no, no, you’re not alone
If you’re on your own
In this life
The days and nights are long
When you think you’ve had too much
Of this life
To hang on
Well, everybody hurts sometimes
Everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes
So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts
You are not alone

The Shift

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I am feeling a shift. I feel better than I have in a decade. I am excited about things I haven’t been enthusiastic for in years.

I think it is because I have meditated for 700 consecutive days and the payoff is finally happening. When I say ‘payoff’ I mean that zen optimism those yogis promise you. I am beginning to feel it.

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I want to decorate the Christmas tree. I haven’t been excited to that in forever. Last year, that time I died (my daughter calls it that. I was sick and in the hospital with organ failure. No adults around except my 19-year-old daughter and she stepped up. She nurtured me back to health and I love her more than I thought remotely possible.) I sat in a chair looking at things as if I saw them for the first time. There was a shift of consciousness.  I became aware of things I had no idea about. Some things were validated and somethings just plain ol’ felt good.

I got out of bed this morning and baked cookies. For those of you who knew me as a young mother, I was a baker. I baked everything from scratch including bread. I canned vegetables I grew in my garden, I made dinners from real food not processed or packaged, I picked fruit and made jam. I sewed things including enough quilts for my family never to be cold again. I made Halloween costumes from scratch. I painted, I sketched, I played the piano, and I sang. I read everything I could get my hands on and I loved to spend my days with my children. We would play, explore, learn and try new things. I did all those things. Then one day it stopped.

I became more tired. I made friends with the wrong kind of people. I fell into a depression cycle. I had to go back to work. I worked on a team filled with assholes. Seriously – some of the cruellest people you would ever meet. It is a dark time I don’t think about anymore.

About a month ago, I began to feel the third shift. The second one was ‘that time I died’.

I work with one person who makes me remember how creativity is supposed to feel. Feeling that good at work is fun. There is no other way to describe it. I felt this way at work once before. It was on a team my very first year teaching. I was naive enough to think teamwork would always feel this way. HA! Not so, it took 30 years to find that synergy again. Then I found my ‘people’ at work. One person who we can chat about anything from cooking to books and everything in between.

I continued to meditate every day because I loved the peace and calming feeling after my sessions. If I have a bad day or a few days, I continue to meditate. The sour feeling comes and goes quickly. In the old days it would last forever, now its done in a few hours or a day at the longest. I have learned to lean into feelings. Allow them to come, I experience them rather than stuff them down and then I am happy again. Meditation has truly changed me.

I have baked for three consecutive weeks. Strange since I hadn’t made cookies in a year and that was only because I made them for my son as a Christmas gift. It was one of the few things he asked for. I bought a new rolling pin. An embossed pin that will make pretty cookies. I have planned out my Christmas baking list. The last time I made one of those I was living in my old house.

I am writing again. I have submitted short stories for publication at different magazines and I entered the CBC Reads prize. I am working on my 4th book. Maybe this will be the one I publish? Its currently in edits. It is a long process to get a finished product.

I am planning out vacations again. I want to visit my parents when they travel to the states. Just me and them. No kids, no siblings and no husband. Just me and my mom and dad. I don’t often get them all to myself. As the eldest child, I had to share them with everyone. Not this time. I want to have a memory of just the three of us.

I am reading again. I used to read 50 books a year. This year I am only at 25 for the year. But I read because I want to not because I think I should.

I plan things so my children will want to spend time with me. We went for dinner Friday night and I love how they make me laugh. We rented a cabin in the mountains a month ago and went hiking to some waterfalls we had never seen before. Sometimes we just watch Doctor Who or the Good Place together. Yesterday we all sat on my new king bed chatting with my mom who is in England today.

Since my meditaion journey began, I now believe in signs or nudges. That flash of impulse that compels you to try something or go somewhere. Do it. I like to believe its the universe showing me the right direction. Out of the blue 10 minutes ago, I received a link to this from an old friend. She saw it and thought of me, so she felt she should send it. Its what I needed to see today. With the added benefit of knowing someone you care about is thinking about you. Thanks, Chicken Hawk!

I have been looking up old bloggers that I used to read. They had stopped writing or a long time and now they are back at it again. It feels like the perfect introvert reunion. Visiting with old friends without having to have a face to face conversation!

I am making dinners again! With the hubs retired, I have been lucky enough to come home to dinner ready for me after work. Lately, on weekends, I feel like cooking. Today I am making soup. A big pot of chowder and some fresh biscuits to go along with it.

This shift is feeling good. Meditation is a big part of that but so is staying in the moment and focusing on good things. I often wish people a Happy Birthday with a ‘Do all the fun things’ as an add-on. But you want to know something? Always do all the fun things and your day will be much better for it.