When Nothing Is Going Right

Well I am back from a two-week, unplanned “vacation”.  Maybe it is longer than that.  I will check after I write this post.  Life got crazy on me and I just dropped everything to tend to the chaos only to get swept up in a whirl wind.  Only now I realize it was just me and my mind-tricks that made it crazy.

Homeschooling was not going as I felt it should be.  (Still isn’t) Since my expectations where not being met I was frustrated and soon my emotions evolved into anger.  It got to the point where I could think of nothing else.  Fear of judgement from others that I was having a stereotypical homeschooled scenario where kids just lay around and watch TV all day consumed me.  It felt like I had no control over the situation.  I yelled.  I took things away.  I made consequences.  None of it seemed to make any difference.

In the last few days I noticed I was feeling anger at others because I couldn’t write for my blog because of this mess.  Something was not working.  My method seemed wrong.  Surely it wasn’t anyone’s fault.  Blaming others seemed crazy.  Sometimes I hear Dr. Phils words, “How’s that working for you?”

I realized that I was spending a lot of energy trying to control the situation and then I thought – this is it.  This is where our journey has taken us.  Lessons are to be learned.  Maybe I should just rest in the mess of it.  Accept this situation and make the most of it.  Kind of like when you choose the longest aisle at the grocery store but trying to change seems futile.  Well, you could stand there stomping your feet and complain about all the items the people in front of you have, how slow the cashier is moving, or you could just make the most of it.    This is where my family is right now.  The more I resist, the harder things were getting.  I needed to relax.  My girl and I are here for a purpose.

This doesn’t mean I accept the TV watching.  No, it just means I don’t fight against it so hard.  Like trying to swim against the current.  I still want to get out of the mess but maybe I didn’t have to work so hard to get out.

Accepting my situation allowed me to let go of my judgment over my daughter.  Then I could approach her with gentleness.  Sounds silly I know but it is true.  I am trying to fight our situation which is quite classical – a teenage girl wanting her independence and a mother angry that she is doing it all wrong, behaving more like a child than she was when she was a child.  I went to her and gently let her know where my boundaries where with her behaviour.   Every thing said very gentle.  Not spiteful.  Not like a benevolent dictator.  Just kindness.

It went over well.  Everything was calm.  Everything was sweet.  It’s not what you say but how you say it right?  She came upstairs, didn’t argue or complain about anything as she has been for the last 6 weeks.  She was sweet as apple pie with ice cream.  Patient as steady rain.  Marvellous.  My change of intention paid off.  Five hours later she would test my intentions, see if she could bend them, but I remembered my place.  I didn’t fight it.  It went over okay.  I held strong.

Now that I realize I was creating my own chaos I would like to return to the blogosphere.  My time away has rejuvenated me.  I am going to update my website and alter my “A Bit of Sunlight” posts as well as give more focus to my memoir writing tips.

Man it feels good to be back.

Memoir Writing – Discover Your Life – Choices

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Building on last week regarding intentions, tones and themes I want to think about choices this week.  Choices in the mundane and the significant.  Choices can say a lot about who we are.  They are interwoven with intentions.  They are good friends.  Can’t separate them actually.

Do you take the stairs or the elevator?  How do you respond to a compliment that you are given today?  Did you even recognize the compliment?  We make choices all the time and are unaware of it.  Choosing to roll over in bed and look at the clock versus just getting up is a choice.

Make note of some of your choices today and reflect on them.  Write in your diary or journal, “Dear Choice, Why did I make you today.  What was my intention behind choosing you?” Or perhaps you could not make a choice.  You had two options, or a dozen, on how to handle a situation. Why couldn’t you decide?  Maybe you can write to Contemplate.

If you can write to that part of you that you wish to reflect on it can help a lot.  In my journey to find my purpose I noticed that I contemplated things a lot so I began journalling to Contemplate.  It was truly beneficial to write to this part of me that was dominating my life.

Second step, reply to Choice or Contemplate.  After I wrote to Contemplate, Contemplate would write back.  It was like writing to my heart, my soul, my divine nature.  You would be surprised by what you get out if you can relax and sink into this process.  Relaxing is the key.  Let your heart do the speaking and your hand the dictation.

Remember, I haven’t mentioned it for a while, but be aware of those thoughts that are just floating in your mind.  The ones that sit on the edge of your consciousness.  Gram ahold of them and be sure to write those down.  That is your heart talking to you.  When you can see its words staring back at you on the paper you will be in awe.

If you don’t feel like writing you can do mind mapping, draw pictures, do whatever you wish but get your thoughts out in some way.

Here is an excerpt from Sunlight of my experience with this.  It goes on for two and a half pages.  Write until you have nothing more to say.

Dear Contemplate,

I’m really exhausted by your inability to make a decision. You toss me around and give me doubts. I can’t see or think straight. One minutes I think that I will be good at one career and the next minute I’m thinking of something else. I doubt every decision. I don’t know what I am good at or what I should do. When will I know?

Dear Marlene,

Indecision keeps you in limbo. It keeps you fantasizing about all the lives you could have. Dreaming is fabulous. Dreaming leaves all our doors open. We can do everything in our minds. We can do every profession. We can really experience life this way.

Dear Contemplate,

No, this simply won’t do. This is not actually living. I’m on the couch and not really experiencing anything. My fantasies play like minute movies in my head that I don’t actually ever get to feel the air of another country, taste the food, shake the hand of a friend. I don’t get to actually do anything. Reality has got to be much better than my imagination.

I want reality but feel scared to make a step in any direction. It might be the wrong one. What if I end up right back here? I don’t ever want to be here again and I don’t want to be here anymore. I was hoping that I would know the path but I know nothing and so much time has passed. Do I know the answer of my next steps? Have I been ignoring or not being aware of what I actually want to do? Do the answers sit on the periphery of my vision and never come in?

Dear Marlene,

There you go again. Your daily ramble. Over and over again you say these things to yourself. You’re waiting for some magical answer to plop on your lap while you sit on the couch. Do you not think that you need to get out there and start experiencing life to find where your interests are? You live in a fantasyland and you encourage it by watching movies every day.

You want to live an imaginary life. You want to create a new life for yourself, a new project daily. One day you think you can be a writer, movie producer, mediator, philosopher, life-skills coach, digital graphics, what else? How do you know if you never try any of these things.

You can’t commit to anything. You can’t even commit to flossing your teeth daily, cooking a good meal for yourself. Christ you wear your pyjamas for two or three days sometimes. What do you want from life?

Photo compliments of Emma Larkins

Knowing

Names have been changed to protect identity.

I met Ali at a youth community center.  He was running film making workshops and I was doing some creative arts workshops.  Both of us were targeting youth at risk.  He was needing some help to get his NGO off the ground.  I was working for two other NGOs at the time and volunteered to help him.

I was at every project watching him work.  He was always focused and passionate about what he did.  His wife suppported him in every aspect and her voice seemed to be the only one that he would listen to if his passion was taking him away and she felt he needed to come back to the present moment.

I feel, and this is my opinion only, that he seemed inattentive to his two sons.  One of them liked making films and I feel he identified with him more but still his mind was on creating a picture for a message.  Ali was so involved he could not see past his art.  He lived and breathed it. He was very gentle with his family.  Not a yeller.  Always kind but you could tell his mind was busy creating something all the time.

I left the NGO world to enter the world of the public service.  Which means to say, I took a government job with more money. Then I left the government job to find myself.  In the process I found Ali.  We stopped and had lunch together and I found myself asking him a hundred questions about how he knew he loved the arts and how he persisted through it.

He told me that as soon as a photo camera had fallen into his hands he knew.  He took pictures of everything and became the elementary school newspaper boy although there was no newspaper.  He posted all his pictures and writings up on the hall of his school in the middle east.  He tells me about this with such depth.  I feel nothing could have stopped him.  Not only did he need to take pictures and write about events, he also needed to share it.  It was a force or energy working through him and could not be stopped.

Out of school hours he sold potatoes on the street corner for money to buy black out material to make a dark room in his childhood home.  A young boy at this time, his parents saw that he was different than the rest of him but they never prevented him from doing what he wanted.  They gave him a room to convert to a dark room.  (How many of us would do that?)  He tells stories of him and neighbourhood kids running down his street with building materials.  I was impressed, but not surprised, at how he recruited others to work towards his campaign.  I too had been swept up in his passion.  It is not just his art but his ideals that are appealing to me.

Highschool continued his passion.  He took photographs and wrote stories for the school.  His ideals becoming more grown up and clear.  He was someone with strong socialist beliefs and it was clear that he was going to have to leave his country.  He was on opposite ends of the government of the time.

He came to Canada and stumbled on the opportunity to work in graphic design and then film.  Always trying to portray a higher message with his art.  Even how his story ‘stumbled’ together is by a design that one could not have planned but came so easily.  While he talks I think life takes us on a journey.  We ask and the pieces fit together if we believe.  And Ali believes.  It never seemed to come to his mind to question what he was after.  He moves towards it like he is absolutely sure-footed in every step.

His art eventually moving him from Ontario to Saskatatchewan this is where I met him.  Both of us trying to get youth to become themselves and giving them opportunities to explore who they are free of charge.  His opportunity is one allowing them to speak out.

As we talked I sensed he was getting anxious to move back into the arts.  He has been teaching at the university for some time and really wants to create art again.

I ask him about his sibling and parents.  I recall him being distant with his own children and wondered if he was like that as a child.  He describes the same story.  He feels he was always off doing his own thing and never felt he got to know them. He also never saw them again after he left at the age of 18.  He is now in his 50’s.  His father has since passed on.

We go our separate ways but I wonder if he still has a message to get out to the world?  Or has he already?  There were a few youth that made films and won awards at Film Festivals under his inspiration.  Maybe he is meant to inspire many people or maybe just one.  Maybe he was meant to meet up with me so I could tell his story and it would impact someone else.  Or does he need to create a masterpiece film?  It doesn’t matter if it won’t make him famous.  He just needs one person to see it to make a difference.  I wonder, what is his life purpose?  Just doing art or is it a message?  Or perhaps it is a change in society even if the shift is ever so slight.  We move with small adjustments and not big ones.

Surely his purpose is in the arts or at the very least it is his medium.  He has a message to bring and I do believe he wants to bring it internationally through the arts.  I don’t think he is done yet.  He wants to make a difference.  With his focus and determination I do believe he can do it. I don’t think anything can stop him.  Do we know when we have accomplished what we are suppose to accomplish?  Do we sit back and say, “This is it.  This is as good as I will ever say/do/be what I came here to say/do/be.”   Will it be a feeling inside us of fulfilment?

The Scheme of Things – Introduction

The Scheme of Things is about discovering and understanding life.  My current mission is to understanding the concept of life-purpose.  This part of my blog, or website, will share other people’s stories and my biased thoughts of them.  Feel free to share any comments or thoughts on the subject matter.  The more feedback the better.

Returning

I bought a new note book for my writing last night. Now that I sit and face the empty page with pen in hand I feel anxious. I feel as though it is an old love standing before me, presenting himself in such a way that I know the next steps are for us to bare our souls to each other and I am nervous.  It is been such a long time since we express ourselves that way to each other. What if I’m different than before? What if I’m no longer very good at it?  Despite my feelings I take a step forward.  Standing chest to chest, my love reaches out its hand and I clasp it. Here we go.

Once, just after Craig and I were married, he left me for six and a half weeks for Euruope.  I think it was Italy.  It was for work.  If he was gone for seven weeks his employer would pay for me to go with him.  Alas, we were just a few days short of that opportunity.  When he came home I made strange.  All he wanted to do was be close to me while I tried to ensure he was still the same man and I was still the same woman.  This is how I feel with my writing.  I gotta test the waters a bit. Craig was patient and kind.  He was gentle and soft yet left a lot of hints that he was ready whenever I was.  Finally I just had to jump in.

Returning to the pen and paper feels much like that first time Craig and I were together after being apart for almost two months.  It is a bit like falling in love all over again.  I must work on not wavering and getting distracted.

Recently I suffered from a sore back that came out of no where.   I was up most of the night taking drugs (ibuprofen) and distracting myself by watching Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man 2. Then I heard the voice in my head tell me that I wasn’t tending to my back.  Distracting myself from the pain prohibited me from realizing if it needed anything.  Perhaps it needed to shift positions, or to get up and walk around, or maybe it needed an ice pack.

I turned off the laptop and laid there imagining breathing in good and bringing the good air right to that sore spot on my lower back. Then I would breathe out the pain. I learned this type of meditation from Pema Chodron in her book “Start Where You Are”. I ended up falling asleep for three hours. So thank you Pema.

When I start to feel afraid of the pen and paper and the need to run away sweeps over me I will sit. I will soothe it like a lover caressing my hair and back. I will bare my soul and fall in love all over again.  I hope it will whisper sweet nothings in my ear.