Emotional Limbo

Christmas 2012 006Christmas has come and gone. My son is back in Boston. There are no presents under the tree. The anticipation and excitement of the holiday season are over. I’m in that sort of emotional “limbo” between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, which of course is a state of my own creation because, as a friend of mine wisely said, life is circular and we are the ones who ascribe beginnings and ends to it. Humans are the creators of clocks and calendars; God has no time.

So here I am struggling against something of my own creation, trying to find my balance again. This is why I am skeptical of anyone who claims to have achieved perfect balance of body-mind-spirit – as I have said before; my balance is in constant ebb and flow that changes from day-to-day and sometimes hour to hour. As much as I look forward to seeing my son, the emotions I work so hard to keep under control – and foolishly think I have conquered – are inevitably released from their dark hiding place. Restlessness rears its ugly head as I long to live closer to him so that we could have a “normal” relationship instead of cramming 6 months or a year into one visit. I moved from the Northeast many years ago because I hated the cold, long winters but I’m not sure I would have moved to Florida if I had known that my son wouldn’t want to stay. Worry starts to nag me as I wonder how I would be able to afford to live there on my retirement income even if I made the decision to move back at some point. What if he has children and I’m 1,500 miles away? (He’s not even married yet) Jealousy nips at me when he tells me about meeting his father for dinner or a ballgame or going to his birthday party (he lives about 45 minutes away). I am truly happy that he has a relationship with his father after a lot of rocky years but it seems so unfair that he is the one who gets to enjoy an adult relationship with our son when I am the one who wanted that so much. Sadness clutches my heart as I drop him off at the airport and drive away – again. All these negative emotions created the emotional limbo in which I found myself.

This morning I read a section of “There is a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem” titled “Breaking Those Attachments to Gloom and Despair”. As usual, it felt like Dr. Dyer was speaking directly to me … “it is extremely common for people to build their lives on the mistaken notion that without certain things or certain people, they cannot be happy or free …these attachments are the source of despair because we justify gloom on the basis of what or who is missing.” I recognized myself in those words and I didn’t like it. I picked my gloomy self up and took Stella for a walk along the Intracoastal. It was a chilly, breezy 40 degrees, slightly overcast, and there was not another soul around. Stella was loving the cooler temperature and was trotting along like a much younger dog with no health problems! Just seeing her enjoy herself lifted my spirits and brought me back to the now instead of worrying about the future and other things over which I have no control.

As I was walking I said a prayer of thanks and practiced giving my “problem” up to God – something I definitely need to work on. It doesn’t come naturally to me to relinquish control, even though I know it is an illusion. I’m teaching myself how to acknowledge when I don’t know the answer and be willing to turn the entire problem over to the one, all-knowing power. I am trying to have faith that I will be guided in the right direction and to keep my mind open because I know the answer may come in a form I don’t expect. Kierkegaard said “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays”.

 For now, I just want to get my emotional balance back so I’ll sign up for a couple of community education classes, end my self-imposed holiday hiatus from writing and drawing, and put my focus back on all I have to be thankful for. Maybe Stella will be up for a road trip to Boston in the spring …

Stella with Xmas tree 002

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Bloom where you are planted

Diamond-April birthdayYears ago one of my favorite illustrators, Mary Engelbreit, titled one of her adorable drawings “Bloom where you are planted” and the phrase has stuck with me and resurfaced in my life over and over. I  related the phrase to appreciating wherever I was living instead of always longing to move but, more recently; it has occurred to me that a bigger meaning could be discovering how to bloom where I am spiritually “planted”. I think a lot of my past restlessness was a result of dissatisfaction with my self and believing I would have a different life if I could just move to a different place. So, OK, I’m a little slow, but I finally figured out that my “life” comes with me wherever I go and if I want it to be different then I have to change it; no matter where I physically reside. Slowly but surely, I am seeing the spiritual connections in my life.

I call all this stuff “internal work” because, to others, you appear to be the same on the outside but you know there is a change happening deep inside. Several years ago I read about keeping a “gratitude journal” and I began dutifully listing at least 5 things that happened each day for which I was grateful. This was part of my effort to appreciate circumstances that I couldn’t change at the time. Some nights it was a real struggle to come up with 5 things and I had to fall back on the old standbys like “good health”, “my friends”, “my parents”, etc. It took me a long time, way after I stopped writing the lists, to understand and experience what it means to truly live in an attitude of gratitude and not just make a list. I give the gratitude journal credit for helping me to view things in a different way and I have suggested that exercise to others but, a true sense of gratitude is a personal awakening we each have to reach in our own way and, for me, it was a slow process to get to the point where I was giving gratitude more than just lip service.

Since the beginning of my reinvention journey I have been gradually learning to bloom where I am planted instead of always looking to so-called “greener pastures”. Interestingly, the more I stopped thinking about the future, the more grateful I became for the present and my restlessness decreased greatly. These days I tend to think more in terms of the blessings I have been given instead of what is missing in my life. There are lessons all around, every day, and one of my latest came in the form of a man named Nick Vujicic. He is a man who was born with no arms or legs and yet has achieved everything he wanted to do in his life and, more importantly, has the most amazing positive attitude and connection to his own spirituality that I have ever seen. I added his book “Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action” to my Christmas list. I think every school child should be exposed to him – as well as every adult who is whining and complaining about their life! In fact, I plan on showing a dvd of one of his speeches at one of my SELF seminars next year.

Some final thoughts about blooming where you are planted. I am talking, in the broadest sense, about finding your spiritual center, being grateful for and making the most of the life you were given. I’m not talking about your situation; I’m talking about your life. Situations can be changed and that is part of making the most of the life you were given. You should never accept a situation in which you are abused in any way. Even the hardiest flowers need sunshine and rain to nurture their growth – if they are crushed underfoot or denied nourishment they will die. Sometimes a transplant is essential for survival and growth. Don’t let anyone crush your spirit! Also, I don’t buy into the old expression “blood is thicker than water” and I believe that anyone who is toxic should be expelled from your life, even blood relatives. Yes, even your adult children! As far as I know this is the only time we get to live this particular life so lets strive for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

Life is really quite simple; it is we who make it complicated.

October 2011 004

Don’t stand so close to me

Thanksgiving 2012My reinvention journey is often more discovery than reinvention because I now have the freedom to be more contemplative than I could when my time and energy were consumed with being a single parent and building a career. I’m so grateful for this new phase of my life because it has enabled me to become more connected to my spirituality and also to develop a deeper understanding and acceptance of myself. Among the books I’m currently reading is “There is a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem” by Dr. Wayne Dyer” and I recommend it to anyone who is on a journey of self discovery. Over the past few years I have come to  appreciate some of the things I used to try to change about myself and to realize they are a part of me; not things for which I have to apologize. Don’t complain, don’t explain!

For example, have you ever thought about your “personal space”? I recently typed “personal space” into the search engine and was amazed by the amount of information that is available. I’ve actually thought about this topic many times because I realize I have a fairly large personal space requirement and people often unwittingly wander into it. It’s not their fault – personal space is a subjective thing and they have no idea that they’re making me uncomfortable but there are times when it feels like I’m trapped in “Personal Space Invaders” – my own version of a psychological horror movie. I’m not really comfortable with our “touchy, feely” society but I have been forced to adapt to it because it seems that hugging has become the accepted form of greeting, even among people who barely know each other.

Anyway, it appears that a great deal of research and writing has been done on this topic and it was good to learn I’m not as weird as I thought I was (at least not in this area). The part of the brain called the amygdala, which has been shown in research to perform a primary role in processing emotional reactions, is believed to play a part in our varied reactions to personal space violations. It is known that a sense of personal space is also influenced by the culture and family in which a person is raised and also the environment in which they live. City dwellers are accustomed to existing in close physical proximity to others and usually are not as sensitive to invasion of personal space as those who live in a rural or even suburban setting. I’m English, a race that is known for being somewhat reserved and self-contained, I’m an only child who always had plenty of privacy and personal space and I never lived in an urban environment so, I guess that explains a lot. What cultural or environmental influences have contributed to your sense of personal space?

I thought personal space was just about how much actual physical space you required but, in reading about it, I realized that it is also about emotional space. That was an “ah-ha!” moment for me because it explained why I feel emotionally claustrophobic with certain people. We have a different sense of emotional space! Here is a good example of how my emotional space is related to my “personal space”: I don’t have a large circle of interconnected friends; in fact, most of my friends don’t even know each other. Each friend represents a different side of my personality and I have only one very close friend, who I think of as a “soul mate”, with whom I feel comfortable enough to reveal all those sides. I have always preferred to have meaningful one-on-one conversations with one person or a small group rather than spending time in large gatherings but I still need a lot of emotional space. I feel emotionally and physically depleted after spending a lot of time with someone, no matter how much I like them, and need some solo time to get replenished. In another life I could have been a monk or a nun. I require more solitude than “socializing” and sometimes people take offense at that but the difference these days, as opposed to when I was younger, is that I don’t make excuses for myself. I completely agree with Dr. Wayne Dyer’s words in “The Power of Intention”If you’re looking for occasions to be offended, you’ll find them at every turn. How someone wants to react to me is their choice and not my responsibility.

This way of thinking takes self-confidence and a certain amount of personal courage. It isn’t always easy to live independently of other people’s expectations but I think it’s well worth the effort. It’s just as hard to try to live according to other people’s expectations but not nearly as rewarding! When I present Confidence Clinics (next year they will be called SELF seminars – I’ll explain that in a future post), or even counsel someone individually, I always stress the importance of finding out who you really are and then being true to yourself. I have discovered that part of who I am enjoys being able to share the lessons I have learned so far on my journey and I love it when something I say helps someone. Sometimes this happens through my artwork or something I write, which touches me deeply. Recently I had a special moment when an illustration in my book “Try Lots of Hats”, which is titled Say good-bye to the inner critic, brought someone to tears because she related so strongly with it.

It is simple, but not easy – learn to love and accept yourself and you will naturally attract the right people and things into your orbit. If you try to fit into another person’s standards everything will be out of balance in your life. I believe we are all perfect as we were created and we are each here for a purpose, but it is our individual responsibility to discover that purpose and utilize the special gifts that we were given. The subtitle of this blog is “Making the Most of Your Life”. Just like my large personal space requirements – learn to embrace what makes you unique!                                                                                                  You are whole and perfect as you were created!

You are whole and perfect as you were created!

Circus or FEMA?

Ringling Mansion, Sarasota

 

I just spent a week in Sarasota. It was my first visit and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk-ability of the downtown area, all the shops, restaurants, and the lovely bay front park. I walked 28 miles, which is almost double my usual weekly mileage! Stella did amazingly well but her stroller helps a lot! The weather was beautiful and I celebrated my 62nd birthday with dinner at an outdoor cafe saying a special thanks for being able to eat outdoors in late November – I certainly never did that when I lived in the Northeast.

While in Sarasota I visited the Ringling Estate – winter home of John and Mable Ringling (of circus fame) and I urge everyone who visits Sarasota to spend a day there. The grounds of the beautiful estate include not only the mansion, which sits right on the bay, but also a circus museum and an art museum. The mansion is an architectural delight, inside and out, and rivaled the mansions I have visited in Newport, RI, but it was the circus museum that captured my attention so much that I didn’t have enough time left to go through the art museum. There is a fantastic miniature replica of a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus  “tent city” as it would have looked circa 1918-1938, which was built over a period of 50 years by a man named Howard Tibbals. The detail is absolutely incredible and not only can you walk all the way around it but you can view it from above on the second floor of the museum. I have always loved miniatures and just wished I could climb into the display area and crawl around, peeking into all the tents.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering why this post is titled “Circus or FEMA?”. Before beginning my tour of the museum I sat in a small theater and watched black and white films from the 1920’s and 30’s of circus crews “de-training” (unloading up to 150 railroad cars of equipment, supplies and up to 800 animals) and setting up the “Big Top” and many other tents, often for just a one night stand. Their logistical and organizational expertise could rival the military! The first crews arrived very early, set up the cook tent and the huge dining tent in time to serve breakfast to some 1,300 circus workers and performers. Three meals a day were served, all on linen tablecloths with china and silverware. That’s almost 4,000 meals a day in a time before preserved and packaged food were prevalent!

As I watched the films in amazement it occurred to me that FEMA should get their hands on the organizational plans from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus of the 1920’s (this was all accomplished way before our fancy modern forms of communication and a lot of the machines and equipment we take for granted now) and follow them during the next disaster – or maybe the government should contract with a circus because I have a feeling these people are still experts in efficiency and time management!

Meanwhile, the Christmas season is upon us! One of my new Christmas card designs is below and I hope you’ll check out the others at Lynda Linke Productions – delivery is within 3 days OR you can have cards mailed directly to the recipient. If you don’t like my inside verse you can change it … can’t do that with a Hallmark! Just sayin’ …

  Merry Christmas-Love, Peace, Joy

My book “Try Lots of Hats” would make a nice gift for a pre-teen girl and my new book “Velvet Ropes: The Ties That Bind Mothers and Daughters” is a collection of true mother/daughter stories that any woman would enjoy reading. While you’re visiting my website don’t forget to like me on Facebook and Twitter!

Tis the season for shameless self-promotion! Fa-la-la-la-la!