Ah, what a good day.  How can anyone be depressed with this beautiful Indian Summer weather?  My drive to work was breathtaking.  The fields look like watercolor paintings, all warm and golden.  The earth seems to ripple and shimmer with the bounty of the harvest.  Tractors are out early, and I love watching the grain spewing into the waiting wagon while the air fills with a fog made of silage.

This morning, I enjoyed my music as I was driving along.  Each month this year, I have created a new playlist on my iPod.  This month, I couldn’t decide what type of music I wanted to save in my list.  I’m tired of the depressing lists of previous months.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted rock, or jazz, or country, or bluegrass, or maybe even opera, so I decided to scrap the whole list thing this month.  October is SHUFFLE MONTH, and I have really been enjoying it.  I got rid of every David Gray song on my iPod, and any other “triggers of sadness.”  I have enjoyed the random selections so much.  It has felt like being reacquainted with long-lost friends.

A song by Phish came on this morning while I was driving, “Gin and Juice.”  I smiled and started singing along.  My smile grew even wider when I realized that I was singing this silly song, but I was thinking of something else entirely.  I was thinking about the funding sources for some of our Neighborhood Stabilization Programs.  Ah…for a few moments I was back to being me again, and that felt so good and right.

This afternoon, I got to put on a hard hat and tour a couple of projects that I have been involved with for almost four years.  One of them is a wonderful new, infill project, and the other is a renovation of a brownstone built in 1847.  I loved the dust and the excitement of the work site.  I loved seeing these buildings progress from plans on a piece of paper to actual bricks and mortar.  I loved hearing that the completion dates are only months away now.  I am so excited to see these building filled with people, homes, and businesses.  I love looking across the skyline and seeing these changes and knowing the positive impact they will have on our community.

Today I remembered again, at least briefly, who I am and what this is all about.  I needed today.  I needed the beautiful fields, the silly music, and I needed to put on a hard hat.

Visualization, Part II

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As I felt that Negative Loop begin playing itself over and over again in my head, I was angry.  My weekend had been good.  I was able to recognize the blessings in my life, but I was (ME!!!) sabotaging my own happiness.  Allowing the negativity to loop over and over in my mind was preventing me from enjoying what was REAL and GOOD in my life.

Visualization.  I knew that was the answer.  I went to a quiet place in the house.  In MY house, that means the upstairs bathroom.  I closed the door and sat down in the chair.  Wow, I have sure spent a great deal of time in that chair this past year!  I sat there and remembered how I once was able to pull myself outside of my body through visualization.  I was able to control my own pain.  I was even able to control hiccups within moments by using visualization.  I tried to remember how, but I failed.  My mind was stuck in the Negative Loop.  I tried to remember how.  Where did I used to go? 

Year ago, I had this technique where I imagined a meadow with a lone tree.  The tree was sheltering and immense.  It represented peace.  I walked toward the tree and went into another realm within my mind.  (kinda strange, I know…)  I tried it again, but the tree was elusive.  All I was able to envision was myself….and all I saw were flaws. 

I tried a beach.  I imagined a beach, wind, surf, the sunset, but still it did not work.  What was I wearing?  OK…all white.  Was there wind?  Yes, and it made my clothes cling.   You could see my pouchy tummy.  The wind made my hair look stringy.  I looked like hell.  I looked worthless.  I looked like I did not deserve peace.

So, that’s how bad this has become.  I could no longer find peace, because I have no self-worth.  Even I did not believe that I deserved peace.  It made me sad as I sat there in my bathroom….in a chair alone, unable to find peace.  I looked in the mirror.  Is THIS it?  Is this face and this body all that I am worth?  What is inside of all that?  What is under the flesh?  My spirit.

Instead of imagining my body, I began to imagine my spirit.  At first, it wasn’t easy.  It’s a difficult thing to get past the outside and dig way down to what is beneath the surface of who we are.  What is under there?  It was there when I was a little girl.  It will be there when I am a very old woman.  The essence of who I am is always there.  I tried to imagine that spirit inside of me.  Warmth.  That is what I began to see.  A rose-colored warmth began to emerge in my mind.  I imagined that warm, rose-glow floating along beside the ocean.  The calm sand, the soothing blue of the waves.  All of it became a part of the spirit of me.  As I began to visualize the “ME” underneath all of the clothes and skin and bones, I could feel other spirits by my side.  They were golden.  I felt their love.  My dad was there.  My grandmas and my grandpa were there, too.  All of them wanted to help me.  They wanted me to feel their peace, and they surrounded my rose glow with their warm golden auras.  I felt filled up in a way that I have not felt in so very long.  I felt real hope for the first time.  They were there waiting for me.  They were there to catch me and carry me above and beyond the pain.  All I had to do was seek them out.  Ah…now I knew.  I knew that I would be OK.  I can do this, because I am not alone after all.

I know….this is a most unusual post.  I don’t always consider myself to be “in touch” with my spiritual side.  The strange thing is, I once considered myself to be very spiritual.  I lost that somewhere along the way.  At the same time that my life spiraled out of control, I lost touch with my spirituality.  I don’t think that is insignificant.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence.  It will take some time to cultivate this awareness within myself once more, but I am ready.  Finally, I have found something within myself of value, and I don’t intend to let it go again.

Yes, I know.  These past two posts have been strange.  I’m not sure that I have done a very good job of conveying my thoughts, feelings, or experience the other night.  It’s difficult to explain something that is other-worldly.  It’s practically impossible to explain something that seems to go beyond words.

Visualization, Part I

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This will probably be one of the strangest blog posts I’ve ever written, both in this current blog and in my previous (more soul-searching) blog.  Whatever happened, and it was strange, had a fairly significant impact on me, and I wanted to share the experience.

Do you know the feeling of having your mind circle back to the same thought or idea over and over?  That can be either good or bad.  I’ve had it work both ways.  If a productive, creative idea is forming, the process of revisiting, replaying, and turning the newly shaping idea over a few (or many) times can be part of the process of growth or success.  On the other hand, an idea or thought process that is purely detrimental circling around and around in your head can keep you stuck in one place for too long.  Sometime we can truly be our own worst enemy. 

I have been stuck in this negative replaying process for a very, very long time.  I have revisited and replayed these negative thoughts out to the point where I can barely even remember that I’m doing it.  This negative “loop” running through my mind has become such a part of my life this past year that it has become me.  Realizing that, the fact that this negative loop-playing is controlling me, has been a major breakthrough in the healing and repair process.

Other than having a slightly sick child last weekend, the result of which was a major change in my plans, I had a very relaxing weekend.  By relaxing, I should say that I accomplished a great deal.  My June Cleaver side was shining through.  I organized drawers, shampooed carpet.  I bought new curtains for the girls room.  I baked brownies. 

I enjoyed my life.  I loved my family.  I had moments of pure happiness.  Until…the blasted loop would rewind and begin its cycle once again in my mind.  It feels like I have brain damage!  This isn’t the kind of brain damage caused by a blow to the head.  It feels more like I need a swift kick to my head. 

I had a crash on Sunday night.  I had been so busy for most of the weekend.  I hadn’t had much time to think, but Sunday night while I was alone, listening to music, and ironing in a quiet room, the loop began again.  I was thinking about the weekend.  It is so lovely to have all of the kids home for the summer. T and I had enjoyed a dinner with only our sons.  Both girls had other plans.  It was so amazingly enjoyable to be at the dinner table with all of my men.  I had smiled from ear to ear even as the tears were near to the surface.  Later as I ironed, I allowed myself to get  a bit melancholy and sentimental. 

Instead of allowing myself to grow sad, I did something different.  T was downstairs at the computer.  I went to him and climbed on his lap.  I wrapped my arms around him and laid my head against his neck.  As I sat there squeezing him, he calmly put his arms around me.  I sat there on his lap, just squeezing him and breathing fast as I fought back the tears.  Why was I crying?  I had been happy!  WTH??  (Is this menopause???)  Finally, I was able to take a deep, deep breath just as the tears began to flow.  T said, “Do you feel better now?”  That’s when I began to laugh even as I cried. 

We sat there for a moment as I wiped the tears that were now streaming down my face.  I was so happy to have the boys both home together.  I am so proud of Luke.  Andrew is so happy to have him home, too, and I think having his brother around will be good for him.   The time I had spent cleaning and working with the girls this weekend had been so wonderful, too.  I didn’t have sisters, so I feel like I am finally experiencing something that I’ve missed my entire life.  I felt so full of love and so blessed.  I was overwhelmed with emotion. 

T understood.  Without words, he understood what I was thinking and feeling.  He didn’t judge.  In fact, he didn’t react much at all.  He accepted.  He wrapped his arms around me and held me.  As I took that deep, cleansing breath, he knew I was “feeling better.”  Ah…longterm marriages are so complicated.  There is no flash or romance, but there is such comfort and strength and knowing.  Why isn’t that knowing what we adulate instead of sex and romance?  I think it’s because it is so subtle.  It’s almost hidden.  You have to look for it.  You have to be able to recognize it to be able to place value on it.  I’m learning. 

This is what I want.  I want this happiness to last.  I want to be able to value the subtle goodness in my life.  I want to remember this goodness during the times of stress and downright WORK of raising four kids and being in a marriage of 27 years.  The loop of bad thoughts needs to end in order for these pure and good things to take center stage in my life.

Here is where the visualization and auras come into the picture.  I was (am?) a firm believer in visualization.  I used it each time I gave birth to my children.  No stitches.  No medication.  No pain?  HA!  Yes, there was pain, but I was in charge of how the pain controlled the situation. 

When my son, Luke, broke his femur at age three, I taught him to use visualization. The doctors had put him on Demerol, but each time he fell asleep, he had muscle spasms that jolted his entire body.  He went from tense pain to sleep, then was jolted back to excruciating pain with each muscle spasm.  I spent an afternoon watching my little boy suffer while under medical care until I intervened.  I knew there was a better way.  I refused to let the doctors medicate him with anything stronger than Ibuprofen.  Instead of narcotics, I taught my three-year-old son to use visualization and breathing techniques.  It worked.  I laid next to him for hours helping him breath through the pain and find a relaxed place in his mind.  Yes, there was still pain, but there were no more of the jarring muscle spasms. 

How have I forgotten these lessons?  How have I forgotten that we have more control over our minds, our lives, and our thought processes than most even realize?