You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2011.

I first posted this back on January 27, 2009 – amazing how, two years later, I am feeling the same things for the same reason.  I am not sure what this says about my life.  But I think it’s worth re-posting a slightly edited version.

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I need some help with being brave and so I dipped into Wikiquotes – and the following resonated with me. Perhaps I will be able to dip back into them from some strength.

You don’t get very far in life without having to be brave an awful lot. Because we all have our frightening moments and difficult trials and we don’t have much of a choice but to get through them, and it takes a lot of bravery to do that. The most important thing about bravery is this — It’s not about not being scared — it’s about being scared and doing it anyway — that’s bravery. – Ysabella Brave

Complete courage and absolute cowardice are extremes that very few men fall into. The vast middle space contains all the intermediate kinds and degrees of courage; and these differ as much from one another as men’s faces or their humors do. – Francois de la Rochefoucauld

It requires courage not to surrender oneself to the ingenious or compassionate counsels of despair that would induce a man to eliminate himself from the ranks of the living; but it does not follow from this that every huckster who is fattened and nourished in self-confidence has more courage than the man who yielded to despair. – Soren Kierkegaard

Courage charms us, because it indicates that a man loves an idea better than all things in the world, that he is thinking neither of his bed, nor his dinner, nor his money, but will venture all to put in act the invisible thought of his mind. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Either life entails courage, or it ceases to be life – E.M. Forster

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. – Harper Lee 

Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men … have lived. The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures—and that is the basis of all human morality…. In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience—the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men—each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient—they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul. – John F. Kennedy

Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- Ray Bradbury

Every great work, every big accomplishment, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement. – Florence Scovel Shinn

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu

Courage is being scared to death— and saddling up anyway.- John Wayne

Courage is the price life exacts for peace.- Amelia Earhart

Few things are more attractive than courage, cheerfulness and optimism. But they take on an extra dimension when you realize that they are not a lucky assembly of character traits, but the result of an act of will—a deliberate attempt to tackle an unkind destiny with strength of purpose and good humor. – Jane Shilling  

Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak, and at last some crisis shows us what we have become. – Brooke Foss Westcott

I am old enough to know that victory is often a thing deferred, and rarely at the summit of courage. What is at the summit of courage, I think, is freedom. The freedom that comes with the knowledge that no earthly thing can break you.  – Paula Giddings 

If you let fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct, then your life will be safe, expedient and thin. – Katherine Butler Hathaway

In times of stress, be bold and valiant. – Horace

It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.- Emiliano Zapata

Love makes us human, courage makes us extraordinary.- Faryal Khan Kharal

Many of our fears are tissue-paper thin, and a single courageous step would carry us through them.  – Brendan Francis

 Often I have found that the one thing that can save is the thing which appears most to threaten … one has to go down into what one most fears and that process … comes a saving flicker of light and energy that, even if it does not produce the courage of a hero, at any rate enables a trembling mortal to take one step further. – Laurens Van Der Post

Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.  – Benjamin Disraeli

Strength and courage aren’t always measured in medals and victories. They are measured in the struggles they overcome. The strongest people aren’t always the people who win, but the people who don’t give up when they lose – Asheley Hodgeson

Those who risk nothing risk being nothing.  – Leonoid Sukhorukof

To have courage for whatever comes in life— everything lies in that.  – Mother Theresa

To see what is right and not to do it is cowardice.  – Confucious (K’ung-Fu-tzu)

What you are afraid to do is a clear indicator of the next thing you need to do.  – Anonymous

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.   – Eleanor Roosevelt

One of my greatest fears, one of those few things that keeps me awake at night and troubles my dreams, is that, when the moment of truth comes, I will fail. This is surpassed only by the fear that when that moment arrives, I will not fail, but will lack the courage to try.  – Jonah West

You only really discover the strength of your spine when your back is against the wall.  – James Geary

Courage = Love + Hope + Fear. – Shomam

Photo Title: Pink Walls

Cimarron, New Mexico

I am not going to be writing here very much this week, but in the spirit of Postaday 2011, I will be posting some of my favorite images from my various travels in 2010.  There are a lot of them, so maybe Photo Week will become a regular thing.  Hope you enjoy, and have a great week!

Photo Title: Backs

Renaissance Festival, Larkspur, Colorado.

What side of the bed do you sleep on?

When you’re young and you have a twin bed, this is not really an issue – there’s only one side of a twin bed.  If you have tried to share a twin bed with someone, you will probably have discovered that, if you are the one sleeping next to a wall, when you roll over you CAN break your nose on said wall.  Trust me on this.

At some age, perhaps early teens, many of us graduate to a double bed. 

And if you try to go back to sleeping in a twin bed for any length of time after you move to a double bed, you run a very high risk of falling out of bed.  Trust me on this one too.  And believe me when I tell you that hitting the floor as a dead weight in the middle of the night is a distrubing way to wake up.

It seems, and maybe it’s just my perception, that the size of every bed has changed over the last 48 years.  Kelsea’s twin bed seems much larger to me than my twin bed growing up, or the twin beds in the room we share at the beach for that matter.  Double beds seem smaller – queen beds seem more like what I remember double beds to be.  And king-size beds seem huge, with the California King being huger than huge.  I’ve always wondered why they named it California King.  If it’s a description of size, then shouldn’t it have been named Texas King?

During my entire married life, I slept on my husband’s right.  I don’t know why.  He was left-handed, but I don’t think that had anything to do with it.  On the rare occasions when we tried to change sides, it just felt so wrong.  And now that I am single, the idea of sleeping on anyone else’s right side feels wrong.  I imagine I would wake up in a confused fog, thinking that Pat was the person next to me, and that’s really not an episode any courtship needs.  But I could deal with sleeping on someone else’s left side.

When Kelsea and I took road trips last year, we sometimes had to share a bed, and it didn’t matter what side I was on.  Thinking back, it was her right side in Tucumcari and Cheyenne, her left side in Cimarron and Durham.  Apparently, when it’s not a romantic partner, it makes no difference, although with her, I tend to take the side closest to the door, in order to protect her from intruders (which really makes no sense at all).

In my own massive bed, I sleep on the left side (as viewed from my position lying on my back in the bed).  The right side is a dark territory into which I rarely venture, like the wilds of the Amazon, as yet fully unexplored.  Every so often, I’ll wake up lying sideways or diagonally across the bed, but I never start out of the right side, and I never wake up there.  I’m sure part of the reason is because the light switch is on the left side, but I know that’s not all of it. 

It’s truly a psychological thing.  When I moved out, I wanted to change everything.  Since I took almost nothing from the family home, since Kelsea (and of course, Pat) were still living there, I bought furniture.  (Thank heavens I was working at the time.)  Everything was new to me, which fit well with the idea of leaving my old life behind and making a fresh start.  So I deliberately chose to sleep on the opposite side of the bed from that which I’d slept on for the past 24 years. 

And now, here I am, on the other side of the bed.  I dislike the fact that the side to my right is empty, but I hope that will change in time.  It certainly leaves a lot of room for exploration in the future.

It is beautiful here today!  So warm that I drove home from Denver with the car window down – in January!

I took a trail yesterday that I hadn’t taken in about ten years.  The last time I walked it was with Kelsea.  It was spring, and we wanted to go dangle our feet in the water of the creek and this particular trail provides the easiest and safest creek access when dealing with a four-year old, which she was at the time.  I still remember being overly cautious as her little self trotted and weaved out into the flowing water, thinking that if she fell over, she would be swept away by the flood that barely came up to her shins.

Anyway, they’ve restructured the trail since then so there are boardwalks, gates and much less mud, but I did finally reach the familiar spot on the creek where there are some giant old cottonwood trees.  One tree in particular was so inviting that I couldn’t resist and I had to climb into it, rest my back against its trunk, and stretch my legs out on one of its long, low branches.  I did a little journeying, checking in with my animal contact on some information I had gotten in the morning, and basked in the warm sun for a time.  And then I heard something crunching around in the dry grass near the tree.  I had to peek to see if it was a creeper….or something else.

It was a creeper cow!  A big black cow trotted around the back of the tree into the creek right behind me, and stepped delicately around, breaking ice and slurping water.  She emerged with a straw in her lips and a light in her eyes and snuggled up to the left of me next to the tree.  I named her Lunch.

Then, yet ANOTHER black cow, this one even prettier than the first, approached on the right side.  She put her lovely cow face about a foot away from me, investigating, then took a step back and just stayed there, gazing at me.  And I named her Dinner.

Lunch, Dinner and I hung out for a good ten minutes.  I talked to them a little – we just kind of communed (cow-mmuned?)  Dinner spent a lot of time licking her nose, and I learned something new: did you know that when a cow licks its nose, it inserts its tongue UP each nostril?  (Disgusting, yet) fascinating to watch!

A third cow approached; Dinner started enthusiastically grooming him/her (hard to tell).  Then, a fourth cow.  At this point, it was about time to go anyway, since I had left “the zone” a bit, and was starting to feel a little surrounded by bovines.  The herd let me pass, without moving or commenting; I got the feeling they’d have been perfectly happy to let me stay and join them in some grass and grooming.

It was a wonderful episode, and reminded me of a saying we used to have in high school – “we all have bovine instincts deep within us.”  I wish I could remember why we used to say that, but apparently, it’s still true.

Cold

It is a different winter than before,
Coyotes howling outside the chill glass
With no respite from the killing darkness in sight.

Sleep eludes like a master thief,
Stealing not just dreams but waking,
And leaving me hollow and gray.

No jewels gleam in old velvet cases of the sky,
No warmth, no flicker of a telltale flame,
Only softness turned to ice and stone.

Beaches coax dead coral from their sands,
Cutting toes and turning ankles,
A brittle beauty changed by heartless storms.

A smile frozen in pixels now tucked away,
A January memory coated in eternal frost,
A different winter than before.

Each month carries with it a certain energy, whether it’s sparked by holidays, weather, memory, or something undefinable.  We all view the months differently, depending on our preference (or loathing) for a particular season.  Some time ago, I read a piece in which twelve famous authors each contributed their views on the months – one author for each month.

While I’m not yet a famous author, the piece caught my fancy and so I’ve decided to share my own measure of months with you.

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January
A month of beginnings, yet at the same time, a month that feels frozen in its own self.  It’s a discouraging month, as we all resolve to do things better, differently, and as the days wear down, so many of us find ourselves failing at our resolutions.  But we do start with the premise of the promise, with a sense of hope, even as we find ourselves plunged in cold and regret.

February
For me, there are hints of spring here.  The crocuses that push forward from the earth, the first glimpse of the nub of a tulip, the returning birdsong.  We have that Valentine’s Day, that dreadful Hallmark holiday, stuck mid-month, and the manufactured President’s Day the following week.  It is bitter cold, and feels as if we have taken a plunge off the high board into a near-frozen pool and are struggling valiantly yet slowly to the top, where the warmth and sun live.

March
Still wrapped in the depths of winter, wet, heavy, tumultuous, like a season trying to give birth and die at the same time.  March is wild, silent, angry, rapturous.  The world is trying to ram its head out of winter and is being met with clever blocks at every turn.  It is never an easy month.  Once school is over, Spring Break no longer exists.  March just means plugging away at trying to finish out one more winter.

April
Warm and green has finally carved its way out of frozen and dead.  It’s easy to leave the house and forget to take a jacket.  There is still a feeling of promise, as opposed to all-out spring, but breath comes more easily, and with it, a certainty that new things can grow again, and the world can renew itself.  Creeks and rivers thaw and start to flow, singing along with your own blood.  If it has been a particularly hard winter, weather-wise, emotionally, or physically, April can truly be a time to rejuvenate the soul.

May
One day, you turn around and everything is suddenly this intense shade of green that you can never duplicate, never describe and never quite remember. It’s as if it happens in a blink. Small things are being born.  Seeds are being planted, the earth is being worked, bringing us closer to our own souls, our own core.  A strong sense of wanderlust may start to flicker, sparked by the increasing warmth of the world.

June
Dreams come easier.  Gentle breezes ruffle cool curtains and the earth’s perfume intensifies.  A certain joyful laziness is always lying just below the surface, inclining otherwise industrious souls to sneak off and play hookey with a fly-fishing rod or a bottle of rum.  Gardens need tending now, as spirits do, to ensure that things planted in more uncertain days can grow and flower into something rich.

July
Summer is in full swing, spirits run high and free and celebrations spring up with a happy spontaneity.  This is a time for open roads, clothing that is not permitted in schools, and suntans that dermatologists frown upon.  Berries are meant to be picked and popped in mouths.  Fresh corn is shucked on newspapers on the kitchen floor. Basking is in order, as is hiking along streams, preferably with dogs in tow.  If you’re lucky, dusk rouses bats to thin the swarm of mosquitos, and crickets make the nights musical.  Sweat trickling down various body parts can be a pleasure, as can icy-cold beers and air-conditioning.

August
The ripeness of summer has a sense of winding down, but you can still bite into a freshly picked, sun-warmed tomato and have the juice run down your chin.  The beach may occasionally have a few windy days, and superb lightning storms illuminate the mountains and plains.  The air has a passionate warmth, slow, heavy and lazy, like a fat man at the end of a great meal.

September
Indian Summer.  Pick and choose the weather – cool in the mountains, hot on the plains.  The trees are turning, colors burning a radiant kaleidoscope.  Leaves are dying, floating to the ground in a spiral of suicide, wishing to be pressed between the pages of a book in the lingering sunlight, so they can forever recall their own moments of glory.  The air rings with a robust tang that marks the end of a frivolous, splendid season.

October
Crispness.  Good sleeping weather, and mornings make you want to snuggle deeper under the covers for just five more minutes. Whiskey is yearning to be sipped by a warming fire. Chill hands are longing to be held.  There are still a few glorious days left, blessed remnants of summer that appear unexpectedly and vanish like a morning mist, hard to recall.  Wooly caterpillars predict the severity of the coming winter, and hikes want to become strolls through layers of leaves, feet delighting in the crunching.

November
Wistfulness casts a shadow on days.  A sense of preparation, almost a rising pinch of panic, a girding of the loins for the coming cold months, settles into the soul.  Some thoughts turn to family, others turn towards loneliness.  Bodies at rest want to stay at rest, at home, as a primal instinct for hibernation hints at the surface of our consciousness. Either way, we tend towards contemplation of endings.

December
Bringing with it the only sense of lightness in the cold months,  the lucky ones have a sense of  innocence and delight brought on by the approaching holiday.  We can allow a childlike wonder to take hold.  Smiles come more readily and the world takes on a gentle generosity that is distant at other times.  Endings are at the forefront, as if the year is breathing a last sigh, a rich mixture of relief, regret, rejoicing and renewal.   

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The sense of a year is like the rolling melody of the sea.  It seems to have its own crescendos, like a wave, gathering, building, bursting, blooming, dropping, crashing, rolling to a final dark calmness.  And then beginning again.

Today’s guest poet – W.H. Auden.  (I believe I include this poem in an entry last year as a tribute to the poet on his birthday, but it is one of my favorites, sad as it is, and deserves another look.  I watched “Four Weddings and A Funeral” the other night, and the reading of this piece in that movie was amazingly moving. )

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

I haven’t talked much about being an empath, but it’s what I am.  At times of great stress, it tends to work against me.  At times of great peace, it is the best gift the universe could have shared with me.

Last fall, I took a weekend training with a Shaman about how to live as an empath.  It was helpful, and perhaps it’s time that I revisit some of the lessons learned there.  One of the things that happens with me is that I can link deeply and intuitively to people for whom I care.  It’s like sharing a piece of spirit.  I can sense what they are feeling and what they are doing. Most of the time, I’m right.  And sometimes being right can be positively devastating.

It is such a mixed thing, when you love someone and want them to be happy, but at the same time you want to be the one they are happy with and you can’t have that.

Empaths have the ability to sense things on many levels.  We can read people – their body language, their eyes, the very air around them.  I can, if I chose, put myself in a stranger’s skin and feel their thoughts and emotions.  This is not something I do, however, because it is a violation of a stranger’s spirit and space.  And I take on too much of other’s stuff when I do it.  This quality is one of the reasons that neither psychology or massage therapy worked out for me as a career.

Most times, it is a matter of finding a quiet space within myself; from that place, I can reach out tender tendrils to sense what others might be feeling, and hopefully help them on a level of which they are not even aware.  This all sounds awfully foo-foo Boulder, doesn’t it? 

The concept of the Highly Sensitive Person is very popular here in Boulder, and while some would say that HSP is the same thing as being an empath, I would disagree.  Perhaps in some people, the two go together.  But in the cases of people whom I’ve met who are Highly Sensitive Persons, it seems to be an affliction, and one that is focused on their own challenges of dealing with this world full of people, motion, light, sound and busyness.  It has very little to do with the strange, serene sense of the feelings of other beings (both animal and human) and everything to do with adjusting their surrounding (and the people around them) to accommodate their “disability”.  Yes, being Highly Sensitive has become a focus of psychotherapy here in town.  Amazing.

However you might choose to interpret it, I live it every day.  It’s a painful joy, which is the mixture of my life these days, with varying degrees of each.  I only wish it were easier.

My note from the Universe this morning:

“One’s ability to stop kidding themselves is what brings about the greatest breakthroughs, fastest comebacks, and happiest feet.”

I had a disappointing weekend, a couple of drinks last night (which is unusual for me) and called my ex-boyfriend in a state of sadness.  I left a message.  He didn’t call me back.  And now it’s time for me to stop kidding myself.

It’s time for me to stop hoping.

I had hoped we could stay friends.  I had hoped he would come back to me someday – even though I don’t know when someday might be.  I’m starting to get the message that he doesn’t really want contact with me.  He really just wants to be done with me.  It’s not his job to be my friend or make me feel better.

I have no idea why I’m having such a hard time letting go and moving on, but I am.  It’s not as if I’ve never been dumped before.  Maybe I just never loved quite this well before.  I’m doing all the “right” things – eating okay, exercising, trying to see friends, looking for a full-time job, writing, trying to buy a house – all these things that are all pieces of “moving on”.

But I’m stuck.  Stuck like a wheel in mud.  And I’m so unhappy.  Yes, I have good days.  It actually seems that I’ve had more good days than bad days.  But the bad nights, like last night, and the bad days, like today, are still so very bad that I hardly know how to get through them.  One breath at a time – which I reminded myself of as I sobbed into my already-soaked pillow last night.  Of course, I am my own person and I don’t need another to complete me.  But I miss him, and the connection we had.  I was happy in that relationship.  But he wasn’t.  And that makes it wrong.  Both people have to be happy. 

Maybe I need to go back to therapy (ick).  A couple of friends have said it would be good for me now, to work through some past stuff, since I am in a place where I am free and set-up for change.  Yes, maybe they are right.  Maybe I need some help to push through this.  I’ve given it time.  Time isn’t helping.  I’ve been trying to focus on the positive, to forge new dreams.  Still, not helping, not really.

I feel so fucking pitiful.  And I hate that feeling.

Guess I need to give it more time.  In the meantime, I guess the tears will keep flowing.

January 2011
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