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Archive for January, 2013

Photo of red sky

The sky was so red this morning, it looked like the forest was on fire.

I woke up this morning to a tornado watch (red sky at morning, sailor take warning). It was no surprise. Yesterday was 70° – tomorrow’s forecast calls for snow. There’s so much energy in a transition like that. “Conditions are favorable for severe weather.”

I wish my consciousness were evolved enough to issue emotional weather alerts … conditions are favorable for severe bitchiness. There would be levels of alerts: The Watch, The Warning, and The Seek Shelter NOW!

With just a little more focused attention, this just might work. After all, I have over fifty years of “storm watching” experience!

Conditions like overworking and neglected self-care would certainly prompt a “watch.”

And any major holiday is good for a warning or two.

Even good things, like vacations, can create a flurry of activity that can easily escalate to storm proportions. There’s usually at least one squall accompanying any trip that involves air travel. I know this about myself.

I’m thinking this would make a great app for my smart phone! It could be integrated with the calendar. Just a few individualized profile settings and I could not only receive high alerts on my phone, I could have them sent to my family members, too.

Overworked Mom Warning … remove boots before walking on carpet.

Restless Wife Watch … approach with caution.

My husband reminded me this morning that he and our son have had a coded alert system for many years. Oh, I remember now: “BAM Alert!” they would whisper to each other, signaling the need to steer clear until the storm passed.

Getting to know and take care of our own physical and emotional needs is such an important life skill. I don’t really need a phone app. I can feel it in my body when conditions are favorable for severe emotions.

The difference between a storm of fear and a tornado is that it does no good to run face first into a tornado. But facing fears head-on . . . well, it’s the only thing that does help.

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Colorful watercolor

Mountain Morning (watercolor by Barbie Dallmann, July 2012)

Monday night my husband received test results indicating the cancer is back. Since then I’ve been numb. I know intellectually, but I can’t feel it. Actually, I can’t feel anything. I haven’t been journaling. What is there to write about when I’m unwilling to feel anything?

This morning I tried to go into my heart and find a feeling. The first thing that popped out was anger. I allowed it to percolate for a bit, just to feel something, but it seems like such a waste of time and energy to rant, blame, and bolster myself with righteous indignation. (Don’t get me wrong . . . I’m extremely good at all those things!) But today I have a deep desire to avoid that side trip and look for the road to acceptance.

Acceptance about the truth of the test results and what they mean.

Acceptance about the difficult decisions that will have to be made in the near future.

Acceptance about the costs: time, money, energy . . . peace, contentment, security. (I wish I were enlightened enough that those last three things weren’t on my list, but if I’m looking for truth, I need to look at that, too.)

So the biggest thing I need to accept is my own vulnerability, my own weakness, my own fear.

Oh my, yes. That’s it. Here come the tears. There she is, the part of me who is running from acceptance, the part who wants to hide from the truth. She’ll stay busy! She’ll watch movies! She’ll go out with friends! She’ll even do the dishes when it’s not her turn!

I didn’t go to the cottage yesterday because I didn’t have time. Really? I can still delude myself with that old excuse?

I know my patterns. I will research a lot, consult a lot, talk, read, analyze, and study. I will prepare myself to be strong and to fight for as long as it takes. “Never give up!” that’s my motto! That’s also how I disguise my fear. I wrap it in the persona of the Courageous Warrior.

I am grateful for that part of me. She is tireless and effective. But today I also want to acknowledge and accept the weak, hiding part of me. She is tiny and so very frightened. She could easily be missed. But without her, my range of emotions narrows to anger, stoicism, detachment. She is the one who holds the keys to compassion, creativity, possibility, and trust.

And so I recommit to my intention for 2013, uneasy but willing to explore a new way of being in the world: accepting.

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Spider Web

This is an old picture. I took it in my back yard on September 11, 2001, at 8:47 a.m. eastern time

[Note: During my coach training program, I embraced the teaching that “My Outer World is a Reflection of My Inner World.” Today I thought I’d share a glimpse of my outer world.]

Late to the cottage today, I’m greeted by sunshine splashing on a muddy floor. In the darkness of early winter mornings, I never notice the bits of dirt that so easily blend with the color of the cottage floor.

The sun has me on my knees . . . wet rag in hand, scrubbing the floor. My morning meditation becomes an appreciation for the many imperfections hidden by the shadows of winter.

But on this amazing sunny morning, the spider webs glisten in the shifting light, and I notice, too, the shells of dead bugs scattered beneath them, like so many empty candy wrappers carelessly discarded.

How is it that cleaning a floor can bring such joy here in the woods? In this moment, everything just feels so “right,” so “part of the natural flow.” Winter brings the spiders indoors, where we cohabit peacefully until spring. I have no urge to evict them now. And so, like the unnamed janitor, I dutifully clean up the remnants of snacks and wipe away the sagging, abandoned webs.

When spring arrives, I’ll clean in earnest. For now, I do a little, knowing that all the dust and dirt will disappear in the shadows of the many winter mornings yet to come.

[Now for the twist: Whatever you think you just learned about my inner world, isn’t about me at all … it’s about YOUR inner world. Enjoy the insights!]

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Handwritten "Acceptance"

A simple reminder

On January 1, I chose my year’s intention: Acceptance. It came to me during meditation and wasn’t what my ego had planned at all (I wanted appreciation!)

It’s no wonder my ego was squirming. When I set an intention, things tend to happen. And this past week I’ve felt like a high school freshman sitting in on a master’s level class. Oh, I have so much to learn!!

I immediately became keenly aware of my addiction to resistance. I want to be accepting. I say I want to be “in flow.” But what I see is myself consistently choosing to resist what is: “My internet service should not have been out for 4 days” … “Client emergencies should not clump together in a single week (particularly during a week without internet service!)” … “The dog should not be barking at 3 a.m.” … “I should be over this cough by now; two weeks is enough!”

Oh, I could go on, but I want to stop. Oh, how I want to stop!

Meditating Frog

My Guru

The next morning on my way to a doctor’s appointment, I observed myself thinking what bad timing it was during such a busy week. And then I asked myself, “What would it be like to be in acceptance?” I took a moment after I parked the car to center myself with a little deep breathing. I allowed myself to become totally present. Then I began my two block walk to the doctor’s office.

It was such an amazing experience. I felt like I was seeing my city for the first time. I connected with people on the street. And I heard birds singing! Birds singing in January when it was 33° outside!  It felt like a shot of pure joy. I was happy, excited, eager to share my smile with others. And the day continued to flow so much more easily.

This morning in the cottage I was reflecting on my soul’s choice for my 2013 intention. My soul knew what I needed most to get to a place of appreciation.

First Comes Acceptance!

It’s going to be an interesting year.

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Hand written: Read this when you are feeling sickI’ve been suffering from influenza. Totally missed celebrating New Year’s Eve. I’m much better, but still not 100%.

On the second day of my infirmity, I found the following letter dated December 19, 2010.

Dear Sick Barbie,

Today, as I write this, I’m feeling well again after three weeks of illness. It strikes me today just how little compassion and patience I have for myself and others when I am sick. I hate being sick. I hate the slow pace. I hate the exhaustion. I hate the lack of creativity. I go into survival mode. Nothing is fun. Nothing is satisfying. Most of the time I’m grouchy, nitpicky, and angry. I feel overwhelmed, and I don’t ask for help.

Right now, I want you to realize that getting well is not something you do in your spare time. It’s the most important thing. Stop exercising! Use your energy carefully! Cancel all of your extracurricular activities. Right now! Just do it! Sleep late. Take naps. Lounge in the tub. Read a book. Television makes you restless. It’s so unsatisfying. Keep it to a minimum. Download some good books and just listen if you need to be entertained.

Most important is this: ASK FOR HELP! Ask first in prayer. Ask your guides and angels to support you in taking care of yourself. Look at all your tasks and delegate. Don’t just let everything pile up until you feel better. Every day ask for what you need.

I don’t think this horrible cough needed to last three weeks. Maybe it did. I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that when I woke up this morning, I KNEW, without a doubt, that I was better. You will KNOW. Until then, practice faith, patience, self-love, compassion, and kindness … to yourself and all those around you.

Sincerely, A part of you that cares deeply and wants you to heal quickly

Thanks to my two-year-younger self for that great advice. I did as she directed and canceled everything on my calendar and stayed in bed for four days. I am continuing to go to bed early and sleep late. I’m so glad I wrote that letter!

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