Friday, September 28, 2007

Going With The Flow

I have been plagued by a bad case of indecision regarding appointments and shopping for myself, for a long while.

I have no trouble making appointments with hairdressers, doctors or dentists, for anyone else. But I tend to ignore my own needs.

I would rather the necessities of Life came to me, rather than me having to go get them. I will put off shopping or appointments for months, until there is no way around it.

And usually, when I go, it is admittedly with a rather negative attitude. Firstly, I am being taken away from things I'd rather be doing. Secondly, the price of 'stuff' these days is abominable to me. And thirdly, I'd rather hang on to each dollar I have, than spend it on the necessary items of living.

Isn't money made for spending on impractical things? I don't seem to have much trouble plunking down my dollars for piece of Artwork, or a much loved Author's new book.

Crowds, too, have an ability to unsettle me. I find it so much more deliciously entertaining to watch the shoppers, rather than keep my mind focused on what I'm supposedly doing. There are myriad events happening all around me, moments and snippets of Life far more interesting than the mundane choosing of toothpaste.

The other day, however, I had occasion to concede defeat. I had to shop for a female garment, finally having to admit my old bra no longer had the strength left in it to fight gravity. I tend to have a couple; they had all broken, as well, during my period of procrastination.

Instead of imagining all sorts of problems, I told myself at the beginning of this scurrilous adventure that I would go with the flow. If the weather was right for walking, I would walk. If there was no parking space close to the store, I would pass on by, going to the next store on my list. If the stores I visited that day didn't have what I required...well, so be it.

I told myself I would remain focused. I made a pledge with myself that I would be very aware of the numbers on the items I chose...the ones that told me how much I had to pay. The ones that so easily transpose themselves in my brain, turning $57 into $75, at the cash register.

I told myself it was time to become more organized, more in control of everyday living, for myself, this time.

The weather was fine in the morning, but after lunch it had turned nasty. Reminding myself to go with the flow, I drove and parked the car, deciding on the spur of the moment to brave Wind and Rain and walk to each vendor.

As I walked, Rain came in sudden torrents, Wind loosened my hair from its bun, and played wildly with the wisps that came loose. I enjoy weather like this...but sometimes it seems as if when I shop for personal items, no matter how good I look when I start out...when I reach the store, I feel bedraggled.

This time was no exception. With Rain streaming down my jacket, hair and face, I walked into the ladies store. It was not long before a clerk approached me with a small towel, asking if I wanted to dry myself.

I chuckled a bit...I must have presented an odd figure...and then noticed others who came in behind me, looking as if they were prepared for a fling in a dress shop, already dressed to the nines. They were greeted respectfully...not one was approached with a towel. There was no need...these ladies were dry and impeccably dressed; they were obviously well-known clientele who would not do anything as foolish as walking in the Rain, to a dress shop.

These women were there not out of need; they were there for the enjoyment of shopping for themselves. An amazing concept to me.

I, on the other hand, smelled like wet wool, with draggly hair that insisted on dripping water all over the clothes on display...

Alright, I told myself, I had made a decision to go with the flow. If I looked like a rat that came in from the cold and wet, well...

It seemed, however, that I had just hit a small obstacle in the current I was presently following. Was this envy I was feeling? Envy for these women's self-assurance, their ability to look good during adverse conditions, their ease of direction in this tony shop's atmosphere?

Yes, it was...and before I caught it, the ease of the flow I had been following changed.

Suddenly, I felt small, less than the rest...

My demeanour and thoughts reflected this sudden attack of Envy. Clothing that I tried on looked lumpy and wrong. The hovering, little, elderly lady, the one who had originally given me the towel, suggested various items be taken to the Changing Room.

Oh, this was dire! No matter the decor, Changing Rooms are designed to make me look at every inch of my body, in cruel, bright light.

I tried to protest, to no avail. I was given a Room, with a choice of Sweaters to try on.

Oh my...When what appeared before my eyes in the mirror was so much less desirous than the well-put-together ladies who were the store's regular clientele, I caught myself. I recognized how I was letting Envy of other women's air of self-confidence colour this whole experience with a negative, black mass of Jealousy.

Events flowed more smoothly, after this small epiphany...the Rocks and Boulders, created by that raging torrent of Envy, were vanquished somewhat.

Far more light-hearted when I came out of the Changing Room, than when I went in, I puzzled the tiny saleslady a little. I was no longer presenting negative energy towards energy signature had changed to a much more positive one. She became a little bewildered in her actions toward me...this agreeable me.

It would be bewildering...she had met me exhilarated by Wind and Rain's energy, bursting through the door as if I owned the shop; she had witnessed my sudden plunge into deep, raging Waters of Envy; now she was speaking to a peaceful, smiling woman. I had confounded her.

As I braved Wind and Rain once more, I headed along the street to the lingerie shop, where a whole different set of circumstances awaited to challenge my newly found serenity. But that's another story.

Suffice it to say, I have not yet found my under-garment that fostered this whole shopping trip, in the first place.

But I realized how very easy it is for me to suddenly be frantically swimming upstream in the flowing River of Life's current, without realizing it. And how, when I become aware of what I'm doing, I can accept, I can turn around, and then...then I can go with the flow of the River once again.

The only thing I'm back to procrastination mode.

That piece of lingerie I require will just have to wait a little longer. It takes strength to go shopping, when I let Creator set the pace, instead of me.

It takes strength to once more face that Changing Room mirror.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Scottish Dreaming

Many years ago, when I was in my teens, I visited a psychic who told me that I would marry an Irishman or a Scotsman. She actually mentioned something about Eire and bonny Scotland, where men were men.

I couldn't understand her well, her brogue was one of the first ones I had ever heard. But I felt happy inside; she obviously thought highly of her countrymen.

And I was were always men, weren't they?

I struck out, on that prophecy, with my first two marriages. The two exes were of mixed parentage, with some English thrown in, along with a little Norwegian.

They obviously didn't work out, now being exes.

But I struck gold on my third try into co-habituating with another. And he was born in Scotland, only a few months after I was born in Hamburg, Germany.

I immigrated with my family when I was five; my partner immigrated when he was twelve and a half. His memories of his birth country are much deeper than mine. He formed a link...a knowing...of his country; he remembers the nuances of Scotland.

Years ago, my first strong love was a boy of Irish heritage. He was an American, who visited me in the seaside village where I worked for the summer. He had a lilt to his voice that totally captivated me; he was dark-haired and blue-eyed. I no longer recall which County from whence his family came. I do remember he was fond of his grandparents in Ireland, whom he had visited often, over his growing up years.

I was young and Canadian. I did not understand how the draft worked, in another country. But S. was here, living on the beach, trying to decide if he should stay in Canada...and dodge the draft.

He went back to the States after the summer was over. It broke my heart, of was the Irishman of the psychic's advice. Here, and then gone.

We struck up a correspondence, those being the days before email and easy long distance telephone conversations.

I received his letter telling me he had been drafted; I received one letter from him, after he went overseas to Vietnam.

And I talked with his mother, the first and only time, when she told me of his death.

I mourned...very, very deeply... for this unformed, untested love we had tried to nurture. I was so young; I did not, then, have the knowledge about grief I have now. It was not creative mourning I went through, way back when I was seventeen.

I believed, after this, that the Irishman the psychic had foretold had been and gone.

But I forgot, for awhile, that she had stated...An Irishman or a Scotsman will share your life.

Time passed. The Scotsman showed up after I turned 50...I waited more than half a century for the psychic's prediction to come true.

And yet, during the years I lived alone, I would have a recurring dream. One where I sat on a Mountain top, knowing I had just climbed a long way. Or sometimes, I would still be climbing, finally flinging myself onto the Moss covered Rocks, understanding I had done...something. Something important.

There was always a figure with me...a masculine figure, edging just beyond my sight...just there.

As I flung myself to the Mossy, Rocky ground, laughing in sheer delight, I would catch longer glimpses of a man...a man I knew very well, although I did not recognize him, in my daily life. This man was not tall, he was very sure of himself and the Mountain he stood upon. He stood, not speaking, just watching me, and looking at the view.

I remember seeing vast quantities of heather in bloom. From the Mountaintop, the various colourations of purple blended into a giant patchwork quilt, one made by Creator's loving and artistic hand. There were Trees, close to where I sat, but I don't recall what kind...coniferous and deciduous mixed.

And in the far off horizon, I could see a touch of blue. I understood it was the Ocean.

I would wake laughing, feeling light of heart, during a bleak time in my life, where I had little hope. For awhile, although I didn't entirely understand the dream, it would give me some badly needed positive energy.

And then, out of the blue, Graham came into my life. Suddenly, my dream made perfect sense to me.

Graham is a Mountain Climber. He has climbed all over the world, although funnily enough, not in Scotland.

And when we met, it was as if we had known each other all our lives...we were so familiar to each other. He has the same energy signature of the Man on the Mountain Top.

We think the same, mostly. We are either completely in tune...or have totally opposite reactions. It is as if he is the other half of me...together we are whole.

We intend to visit Scotland, in the future. I want to find the Mountain Top, although I rather doubt I could climb it, now. But I know it is there.

The psychic's prophecy came true, after many years of searching, of half believing her prediction might yet come to fruition.

And then, along with my dreams of Scotland, it did.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tea and the Samovar

When outside forces have kicked me enough, when Storms are howling, inside and out, when Rain comes slanting down in sheets, mirroring tears...I brew myself a full pot of Tea.

It is the only thing, at times like these...times when howling weather systems pass through, times when the inner spirit is bruised.

As I brew...filling the kettle, choosing from herbal or green Teas, my attention is focused on the ceremony and the comfort of the time honoured preparations.

Nothing else will do, other than my special cup, for times like these. It is only a white mug; at one time, it had flowers on its side that have long since faded. I've had this mug since my children were babies. It is part of me; I know exactly how the rim feels as I drink, with the etching from the faded flowers still apparent to my lips.

It has just the right weight for a bracing cup of Tea; just the right heft to ground me when emotion overwhelms. I know well the distortions and nicks that appear in the bottom of the mug, diffusing through the golden liquid that fills it.

I let Water, fresh and pure, come to the barest beginning boil. Water can have the life boiled out of it; oxygen contributes to infusion of the Tea.

I choose Green leaf Tea. Using my partner's teapot, with the built-in diffuser, I add just enough of the leaves to the pot to brew a mild, light Tea. And since I've chosen Green Tea, I allow Water to come to the barest minimum boil, and then allow it to cool a little, before pouring it over the delicate leaves.

I don't warm the pot; it is a step I leave out of the Tea Ceremony, since I believe it makes little difference, unless the Tea Pot is very cold. I allow the leaves to steep, for a short time...overbrewing leads to a bitter concoction.

As I muse on this, a memory flashes to mind...of a long ago time, when I saw my first Samovar.

Taking my Cup, now filled with a steaming goldy-green liquid, I settle in the Big Chair and take a tentative sip of Tea. It burns a little and I blow on the golden surface, creating tiny tsunamis inside the bowl of the Cup.

Sifting through memories of childhood, since the death of my mother, has odd snippets of events popping up out of nowhere these days; remembrances of a long ago past, of days seen through the innocent gaze of a child younger than my granddaughter.

I don't remember exactly how old I was, probably about eight or nine, when a little girl and I became fast friends. Her name was Ann; she was only a part of my life for a few short months...and then her family moved on.

I admired her because she wore a kerchief to school, over her chestnut hair. There was gossip about her family...they were different, there were eight children, they were poor. And because of the gossip (and her kerchief), I was drawn to her. If she was so different, I reasoned, how come she was always so happy? And what was poor?

She invited me to her home for lunch, a few times. At first, I was hesitant...scuttlebutt around the school was that this family might eat cats and dogs, since they had no money. When I think back, I cannot believe I listened to these vicious rumours, almost keeping my distance. But I loved this little girl; I wanted to spend every moment with her.

I must admit, however, the first meal was looked upon by me with trepidation.

But it was a peanut butter sandwich, which was foreign to me, since we didn't eat that at home. The irony of this escaped me, back then. Peanut Butter was such a normal food for Canadian families; the foods I ate at home, from my German heritage, were certainly not.

In this old house where she lived, was a fine looking urn, which sat upon the mantel piece. I was enthralled with it; I had never seen anything like it. It glinted in Sunbeams that shone from the front window. It had something protruding in the front that looked a little like the faucets at school. There were bowls around it; steam seemed to escape in tiny tendrils, drifting to the ceiling. There was a Tea Pot, that sat right on top of the whole thing.

It was very odd to me, and I couldn't keep my eyes off it.

I might have got lost in this family crowd of children and all their friends. I was certainly quiet enough to melt into the woodwork. But Ann's father noticed my fascination...and he took me by the hand and showed me what he called a Samovar, in broken English. He told me I must never go near it by was very, very hot.

And then, he went through the ceremony of pouring me a cup of Tea. He did it quickly, fluidly. He removed the bowl, which caught drips, from under the spigot, took a glass from a variety of glasses arranged close by, and took the Tea Pot from the top. He poured a little of the blackest Tea I had ever seen into the glass, added a sugar cube, and placed the cup under the spigot, releasing hot water into the concentrated Tea.

He told me he would add Milk, if I wanted it, but he advised me I was always to try Tea without any additions, first. Then I would know what I was tasting.

He showed me how to drink it. With the remains of the sugar cube held in my lips, somehow, I was to drink the Tea from the glass, through it. He did it well; I covered the front of my shirt with Tea, when I tried it.

The room filled with hilarity; I wanted to shrink, back inside myself. I was not accustomed to being singled out. But there was a difference to this laughter...suddenly everyone wanted to try to drink Tea out of a glass, with a sugar cube. This laughter was not directed at me, was not unkind. It was joyous.

We all wandered back to school, joined by our successes and failures, at something that Ann and her family could do so well. It was a break through. I learned many lessons that day.

I met Ann again, many, many years later. She asked if I remembered her. She was a tall, self-assured woman now, well-groomed, obviously affluent. I didn't recognize her; but there was that strange twinge again, and she flashed before my eyes as a child, with her kerchief covering her hair.

She said...I cried and cried when we moved; my Mother did not know what to do with me. I missed you so much!

With tears suddenly springing to my eyes, I could not speak for a moment. Finally, all I could say was...Me, too.

We chatted for awhile, promised to keep in touch, exchanged addresses. But we were only meant to be the proverbial 'ships in the night'. We did not honour our promise to each other to keep contact...our relationship was what it was.

But I hope I gave back to our short relationship as much as she and her family gave to me.

My Tea grown lukewarm, now, in its Cup, I refresh it and concentrate on the flavour, just as Ann's Dad told me to, so many years ago.

Without the sugar cube.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Children in the Middle

There are many of us...the middle children in a family. The scapegoats, the peacemakers, the people who walk the fence, trying to appease those who were born first or last...I recognize the middle child, when I meet him.

Because his character and personality can be very much like mine.

As I researched the 'Net about middle children, I found tears running down my cheeks...and it took me aback! What was this all about?

Middle children need to be validated; I was reading articles that recognized this. Articles that mentioned the urgency Middles have to own an object that is new, just for them. Articles from experts that understood our tendency to get left out of things, where nobody seemed to hear our voice. Articles that showed me from where the seeds of creativity, independence and diplomatic behaviour that characterized my personality came.

Along with the reading, came a voice that began as a whisper and grew louder...a voice deep from the Root. A child's voice...saying look at this, here! now I know. There are still childish hurts that have not been dealt with. I can do something about this little untended childhood whisper.

Because, as my therapist advised me many times, I am no longer a child. I have many tools and knowledge I did not have way back then.

And I can use what the experts say about the Middles. It can become the cornerstone of the building I'm trying to construct. I'll take what makes sense to me and leave the rest. There are other events that shaped my life...they require tending, as well.

I was born third in a total of four girls. I felt as if I was just a very small part of the whole parcel. My tiny voice was rarely heard, and when I raised it, when something was important to my young world, astonishment and anger greeted my outbursts. Consequently, there were not many of them.

I distanced myself very early on in life; I sought solitude amongst the crowd. I couldn't bear the limelight, a characteristic that remains true to this day. If attention was given to me, I couldn't enunciate a word. But on my solitary, dreaming walks, I honed my imagination. I told stories to the World at large...the seemingly empty spaces around me.

This is where I learned to become a storyteller...and later, a writer.

I stayed home as little as possible, in my teen years. I'm not sure anyone noticed I was gone. I expected nothing more; I went my own way, making friends and learning independence. I left home as soon as I could, searching adventure, learning to make decisions, enjoying the ability to do what I wanted.

This is common to the Middles; quite often in adolescence, friendships become far more important than family. Middles often tell themselves...If I'm not wanted or noticed here, there are other places where I am.

And in the midst of a group of friends, I became a negotiator, I cooperated well with others. I developed empathy for those less fortunate than I. I learned to see various points of view, always striving for that balance on the fence.

I nursed feelings of injustice, against my family, becoming rebellious in the process. The experts say this independent thinking leads to creativity and the ability to take risks. My rebellion, until it was reined in for what it was, led me to disastrous consequences for awhile.

Middles can be difficult for the expert to evaluate. There are so many variables...Middles can take on characteristics from the sibling closest to them in age or there might be a number of years between siblings, resulting in a mixture of youngest and eldest features.

Middles aren't as cut and dried as first and last born children.

As difficult as I remember family life to be in my youth, it shaped me into who I am today. I learned all those distinguishing parts of me as a result, partly, of being a Middle.

I learned how to adapt and go with the flow. I am most grateful for this is the one distinguishing part of my personality that came from being a Middle. In my family, attention was concentrated on the eldest and the youngest. I wondered back I here? Do you want my opinion?...and nobody did.

Alright, then. I went with the flow and learned to listen...and eventually, from there, I learned how to watch body language and decipher it well.

I am thankful for the lessons that being a Middle gave me. As difficult as I perceived it to be, at the time, my birth order has shaped a good part of my life's path.

I am finally, finally happy to be where I am...exactly in the Middle.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Land of Plenty

Days are getting shorter; darkness falls earlier each day. The Harvest will soon be ready to bring in from the be made into chutneys and butters and pickles and jams, all arrayed in jewel-toned jars along a towel lined counter.

For people that managed to grow food in their gardens, at any rate. If I wanted to prepare the Harvest I have been able to reap this year, it would be a sorry sight...there might be a few jars of Tomatoes, a few frozen bags of Raspberries and a very small pile of Squash.

I had great intentions of supplementing our Winter diet with homegrown vegetables and fruit; it didn't quite work out that way. I planted sufficient tomatoes to have enough to can a few jars, but there are only a few. I will have to buy a flat or two from the Farmer's Market to can; we will enjoy our homegrown ones fresh.

Somehow, I managed to pick up a Zucchini that is a miniature. I didn't even know there was such a thing. The Zucchini I'm accustomed to grow into baseball bats. The ones I have are tiny...with huge blossoms and very small leaves. They look very gourmet; I miss my bats, however. There is something about those very large green boats...they make enough shredded Zucchini for a hundred spicy loaves, should I be so inclined.

Our Raspberries outdid many beauteous red globelets hanging, shimmering, in Sun's warm rays. That was one harvest where I did manage to bag a bushel to keep frozen.

This year, different plants...plants other than the usual garden varieties... produced well. The aforementioned Raspberries, the Tay berries and the Blackberries all produced bumper crops. There are many Rose Hips and Herbs are prolific, becoming huge shrubs. I have enough Lavender for many different applications...I use it in potpourris and teas and mix it with other Herbs as seasoning in roast Lamb.

And our struggling Apple Tree gave us twelve lovely, crunchy fruit, perfect in every way.

And the Sunflowers! Splendiferous, large blossoms calling to Sun, beckoning and shouting out their happiness at being alive, these plants took over my garden this year. It will be a land of plenty for the Birds that pass through on their way South...I will be hard-pressed to gather a bag or two for the house.

I have trouble taking these seeds away from the Birds.

And if the garden didn't quite live up to my hopes for it...

Then perhaps it lived up to Creator's.

Perhaps my garden, this year, was meant to feed the wildlife, in what I feel will be a difficult Winter. I leave the Seed Heads on the blossoms of all the this way, those Seeds become fodder for Birds that have been scarce in my garden lately.

There is nothing like a flock of Birds descending on a Shrub or Vine...the whole plant shaking, looking for all the world as if it is drowning in mirth. And the incessant trills, shrieks and just plain chatter emanating from that Shrub add to the feeling of gleeful energy. If I take away this food source, I will miss the sight...and the glee.

Yesterday, in the large Rockery, I heard a Frog. He was singing his heart out; I could feel his contentment and happiness. I followed his voice, being very careful my shadow would not give away my presence. His voice became louder, it echoed from a deep hole that has appeared amongst the Rocks.

I crept closer, almost right on top of the hole...and then the voice stilled. I backed off a bit...the voice resumed, becoming louder.

The voice became huge, ringing in my ears. I wondered at the size of the owner of that voice...surely only a monster Frog could make that loud a song!

But, suddenly, out they popped or hopped, depending on the view of things...three small green Frogs...out of one hole and into another, in beautiful unison.

I smiled and moved away, with their voices resuming their ode to life. It was one of those deeply satisfying moments in the garden.

My garden may not entirely feed me, but it seems as if the wild creatures find it a gourmet treat...a Land of Plenty.

After all, generosity in this case costs me nothing and gives me so much in return.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Seven Year Cycle

Every seven years, there is an evolutionary spiral. I am fifty-six, just entering my eighth cycle. According to the research I have involved myself with these last few days, going deeper and deeper, until I wondered where or what time it fifty-six, there is often a tendency to let go of the past and begin anew.

This time period is also the second Return of Saturn for me. It is much different for me, now, than during the first Return, when I was around 28. I had a strange perspective on life at that time.

At the age of twenty-eight, I had already amassed a string of crises and life lessons. Because I did not want to face or deal with any of them, even if the opportunity was there to do so, I drowned all awareness in alcohol.

I hardly drank before the age of twenty-eight. Suddenly, in a few years, I managed to become an alcoholic, almost as if it was predestined. This state of affair illustrates what can happen when the seven-year cycles are not treated as opportunities to grow. According to this article, the writer states:

"At each seven-year round, there is an aggressiveness equal to the level of physical energy released. That aggressiveness, if treated with respect and guided, can become a very powerful tool in the life of the individual. If, on the other hand, it is treated as a case of leprosy, if the individuals are shoved aside and not listened to, then there is going to be a buildup of that energy added to the next seven year cycle."

Indeed. It seemed I almost had an intense need to drink myself silly, and then go through the recovery with the same need, all in a required period of took two further seven-year cycles to complete the marathon.

I embarked on a whirlwind of self work, as I headed towards my forty- second year, where I integrated my whole self and stopped drinking. The forty-second year is the polarity of the twenty-eighth year and therefore, is a time of major change once again.

At this time, too, I began serious spiritual work, utilizing my newfound knowledge daily. Wondering why was I here, what could I give, instead of take, from the Universe and those around me...these occupied my thoughts, as well.

Leading up to my forty-ninth year, my daughter died, catapulting me further. My second marriage went the way of the first. These were the doubting years...the questioning years. I continually asked myself...What have I done with my life, where can I go from here...can I go anywhere from here?

My life turned upside down, inside out. I moved out of my hometown; I met and co-habit with the truest partner that will ever exist, for me. I attempted many things I would never have tried, all those cycles ago. I challenged myself consistently, although sometimes in very small ways.

I discovered I could let go of much stuff, both emotional and material, in order to grab a new and different pathway. One where I could find the peace and serenity I sought, but also one where adventure beckons, sometimes just around the corner.

And now, I'm fifty-six, where the next cycle will teach me to value my achievements, to come to terms with the events in my past that are too late to change, and to find new goals or further the old. At least as far as the limits and constraints imposed by body, mind, spirit...and the availability of money.

According to the chart I checked, Saturn will return on approximately October, 2009 to April, 2010. These are the times when the intensity level of my life can become extreme, during this cycle of seven. One thing I have learned...the price of avoidance of these cycles is high. Perhaps the next seven years will be joyous or painful; it is, without a doubt, an opportunity to learn.

This energy cycle I am in already feels if I am settling in to who I am. Where I'm mostly comfortable, but like an old shoe where the seams unravel, sometimes a sore spot or two appears.

Those spots take some tending; I notice, however, that they seem to go away...become less time passes.

And in this cycle, I am reaping the benefits of all those crises and lessons. I have finally learned to enjoy going with the flow.

I am harvesting the first half of my life and preparing the soil for the sowing of the second.

With great anticipation.