Monday, January 25, 2010

Owning the journey …

012310 clouds “I need to talk to you.”

“Can I come over?”

“I need to be in your space.”

I imagine we all get those calls from time to time. A friend who needs an ear, a troubled soul who needs a hand in sorting it all out, a hurting friend who needs a hug.

A good friend called me and said I was the only person he could talk to. He said that I was the most grounded person he knew; “wise” he said.

In my younger years, that would have inflated my ego and I would’ve puffed up thinking that, with my help, my friend’s problems would be solved. Thankfully, getting older also includes getting wiser (I hope!) and releasing that puffy old ego more and more with each passing year. I was touched that he reached out to me, but I know that I can’t solve anyone’s problems.

I can listen, though. I believe I’m a good listener. I’ve even taught workshops on “Active Listening” as part of a previous job. I’ve probably mentioned that I had speech problems as a kid, often so embarrassed that I just tried not to talk much. So I listened. I looked a person in the eye, moved my body to face him or her, and listened attentively with my whole body and mind.  I’d note the inflection of speech, the body language, the facial expressions; all deeper clues to what the person was trying to convey than the actual words they were saying.  (Speech therapy classes taught me some of these skills.) Even before I knew the expression, I knew how to be fully present to another.

I don’t usually give advice, though, even when the inevitable “but what shall I do?” is asked. (It would probably be my own ego talking.) I’ll share my own thoughts and experiences, but I really make an effort not to tell the other person what I think they should do. Instead, I’ll ask questions (speaking to their higher self) to help the person consider their options in a healthy, constructive way and determine their own next move.

Each person owns their own journey. I constantly remind myself of that. I can listen, I can hold a hand, I can hug or cry or laugh; I can share and encourage further thinking. But I can’t own another person’s journey or solve their problems. Each of us owns our own journey. No one else is responsible for solving our personal problems. No one else is responsible for making us happy. Each time I get that “I need to talk to you” call, I remind myself: Each of us owns our own journey – and I try to get my self out of the way so I can be fully present for the person calling.

I am praying for my friend, praying that his talking/my listening helped him in thinking through some things. I pray that his journey improves and that his heart and spirit move into a healthier and happier place. It’s up to him. I wish him happiness and lightness of spirit.


Monday, January 11, 2010

A bit of creativity with stuff on hand

122409 pier mountain snowView from the pier, Christmas Eve 2009

After 9 months of being home and having all the time in the world to do whatever I needed to do, I need to work on my time management skills now that I’m working again – lol! The week and the weekend really got away from me so this will just have to be a quick post and I’ll try to carve out a bit more time next weekend.

With a tiny Christmas budget for 2009, I had to get the ol’ creative juices churning and figure out what kind of gifts that I could create myself that would be (1) pleasing to the giftee, (2) inexpensive to make, and (3) would be something I could do fairly well. (Sewing projects would be out of the question. Yes, I have a sewing machine. In a closet. In a box … that’s never been opened.)

Quite fortunately, I had several different frames on hand that I’d collected for other “one-day-when-I-have-time” projects. Ah ha! [Insert lightbulb icon here.] So each of my brothers got a framed pic of us all together on Dad’s 80th birthday. Dad got a pic, too. I also had a small photo book printed for Dad with family pics, juxtaposing certain pics for effect: a 70s family portrait on the same page as a more recent family pic; Dad walking me up the aisle next to a pic of Dad walking my daughter, Amber, up the aisle. I tried to put some real thought into the pics I selected. I think he really liked it, cuz he kept saying things like “Oh, would you look at that.” and other Dad-like expressions that indicate he likes something. Dad isn’t an effusive type, but his comments assured me he was happy. In fact, he went through it at least three times while we were together. [Insert my smile here.]

I also had a photo book printed for my daughter and son-in-law of our vacation to Mexico in June. It was fun to see them all going through it, laughing at sunburns and remembrances of the fun we had. And one of the frames I so fortunately had on hand had 4 inserts so I put in some of our Mexico pics plus a very cute pic of the girls taken recently .

In addition to frames, I also had two shadowboxes on hand, bought years ago with the intent to make something cool for the girls. Now was the time! Still staying with the Mexico theme, I made a shadowbox for each of them with different colors and stickers, some flowers and shells (some that their mom and I’d collected over the years) and one of my favorite pics from our trip: a rear-view of Jas and Bri in their swimsuits, walking across a footbridge, with their arms around one another, carefree and happy. I was really hoping they’d like them; I wanted to make these nice and memorable for them.

On Christmas morning, I watched Jas’ face closely as she began to open her shadowbox: her smile got bigger and then bigger and then spread like sunshine all over as she opened it. Bam! She looked so darned happy! [Insert my smile here, too.] She loved the picture and she loved how I decorated the boxes. Yay! Bri loved hers, too, but Jas had the biggest reaction.

121909 jas bri sboxesIn yet another very fortunate stroke of good luck, Jas asked for a painting by me for Christmas and it so happened that I had an extra blank canvas already in the closet. Inspired by a painting I’d found on an art site, I painted a light, happy floral for her:

122109 painting for JasWith a mix of creativity, some things on hand and a desire to do something special for those I love, I managed to stay within budget and had a lot of fun making and creating memorable gifts for my family. A very happy Christmas! 

Friday, January 1, 2010

morning peace

122609 sky sun clouds rainbow crop

shanti shanti shanti

peace peace peace

I slowly sense that I am awakening, still straddling that space between sleep and awareness, gently transitioning into a more conscious state.

Eyes still closed, I sense the early morning darkness in the room.

Eyes still closed, I slowly become aware of the sound … and a smile spreads across my heart and across my face. My breathing slows back into a gentle rhythm, my body relaxes in the warmth of my bed.

The sound … like the soft roar of a jet passing overhead.

The sound … saturating the quiet of the morning, softly, insistently.

A gentle, soft din the only sound this early morning as the day slowly awakens—as I slowly awaken—smiling inside and out. The occasional light crack (or is it more like a boom?) like far-away thunder.

The ocean, the ocean. I lie in bed, warm and at ease, eyes still closed, listening to the soft roar of the mighty Pacific Ocean, a gentle, ambient sound; rhythmic, like my breathing, as I remain relaxed, eyes closed.

Wanting more, I rise and open the window, then ease back into my bed and close my eyes again, hearing the ocean more clearly now, feeling it within me like life-giving breath, spreading a warmth of love and peace. A good start …