Cleaning Up Loose Ends

Early on in my journey of self discovery, which is one of the main elements of Sunlight (so far), I realized that my husband played a big part in my burn out. He was a good chunk of the reason I was laying on the floor, struggling for each breath and having an emotional meltdown. Only it was suppressed because I didn’t know who I was or what I was supposed to do in this life.

It has been three and a half years and I have just clued into the fact that I need to deal with this part of the “story”, this part of my life, my journey. I don’t know how this will all fit together in Sunlight but I do feel both issues need to be addressed.

How is it that you can know something and not know it? This has happened to me before where it took longer than I am proud to admit for the knowledge of a situation to impact me.

My counselling has begun and I am now going to dive into this issue on why I let my husband hold me back. It isn’t really him. It is me. What do I need to heal or protect or assert to advance, to move forward in my life? My will is trapped in this space. It wants out. I want it out. I just need to find the key. Have I given it to my husband?

Here is an excerpt from Sunlight. It was written in September of 2010. Clearly I have an issue that I ‘realize’ at the end of the chapter but it has taken me more than three years to realize it. This part of my life, my journey, could be what has always been missing from my story. It could be why I have so much trouble trying to edit it or find a flow. We will see in time if I am right.

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Backgrounder: Michelle is my therapist and Melinda is my sister.

Michelle assigned me two books to read. The first book I read is The Joy of Burnout by Dina Glouberman.1 I read it steady for four days. That is all I do. I am feeling so good to be doing something useful. I feel in charge and that I have a purpose – to fix me. I am awake. I am alert. Well as alert as I can be. I can not stay focused on the words in the book for the life of me. I reread paragraphs many times to try to get the message but my attention span is so short I am continually losing focus. I decide to keep reading and if I lose focus I will keep on until I bring myself back to the present. What I get from the book is what I get. I was not going to put any extra effort into it. I couldn’t. I would be here for years trying to read this book if I tried to absorb everything with my non-existent attention span.

The book is draining me of my energy. It is not my intention to be mean. I am weak. The book asks more of me than I can give at this time. It wakes me up. It opens a door a crack for me so I can see some light. It gets me off the floor and onto the couch reading. I absorb new words instead of listening to the broken record in my head. I notice I am breathing more normally, not struggling for each breath.

The book asks questions at the end of each chapter that allow me to reflect on my life, heart and mind. I am journalling regularly. I jot down my answers to the questions asked. But as I reflect and write I am experiencing a real physical pain. It is my left side, lower ribs. It is intense and I often have to put the book down. I only seem to experience it when I am reading and writing answers to the questions at the end of the chapter.

 I am glad to have a purpose each day, a goal. My mind is moving in a different direction and it feels refreshing. I feel a bit like a kid who had never seen colour and I have just walked into a candy store and am overwhelmed with colour. It is good but too much for me to take in all at once. Perhaps I am rushing. Trying to take it all in quickly so I can get better and move on with my life.

By Friday I am worse than I have ever been. I can not move. I am in physical pain. I don’t understand how I can feel worse. Wasn’t any of this helping me? I felt so much better yesterday. This is crazy. I reach out to Melinda. I have no idea what we are talking about but when we hang up I find myself laying on the floor in the sun porch. I do not know how I got here but I physically can’t move. It is not just the mental pain or the pain in my chest, but my whole upper body is stiff and sore. I ache.

It takes me a week of moping, laying on the floor deep in my burn-out again, but I manage to slowly pull myself back up to the point where I can read again. As I read and do the exercises at the end of each chapter I find, through reflection, that my husband is equally at the core of my problems as work was. He may actually be the leading cause. He is part of every answer to every question at the back of the book.

 

Be Aware

I open the west-facing door to head out of the yoga studio.  The yellowy-orange setting sun jumps out at me with a delightful surprise.  It is like the world is all a dark deep blue and this orange circular glow is hanging in the middle of all this depth.  I yell a good-by to Debra and dash out to my car.  The sky is noisy with thunder and sparkling with lightning but in this moment it isn’t raining.  It has taken a reprieve from its stormy activity.

I leave the yard and as I drive home I watch the sun as it slowly descends, falling below the crust of the earth.  When I first walked out it was sitting high in the sky.  By the time I hit the highway, 3 minutes, it was already half way to the earth.  By the time I turn onto my grid road, heading north, half of it is below the edge of the earth.  In 10 minutes it has been slipping down the dark blue sky like quick sand.  So quickly I am surprised and in awe of this beautiful event I get to witness.

I feel it is calling to me as I watch it from the corner of my eye heading north now.  It is asking me to not forget it.  To remember it.  Maybe to even write about it.  It isn’t sad that it is leaving us.  It knows it is time and just wants me to soak up its energy, its sacredness.

Before my journey to joy I would have noticed the setting un.  I may have even been in awe of it.  I just wouldn’t have allowed myself to get as wrapped up in it and let it consume a whole 15 minutes of my life as well as write about it as soon as I walk in the door.

All this magnificence in nature is a true gift that we can watch and soak up every day, every season, every year.  We ignore that the sun rises and sets every day.  We don’t even ponder that we set our daily rhythms, something so basic in our lives, to this sacred event.  I wish I had a camera with me.  I would have loved to have posted a picture of it.

Next time.

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

A Bit of Sunlight – the first 30 pages

Well everyone, this is a bit more than ‘A Bit of Sunlight’.  I have posted the first 30 pages into a flip book that you can read online.

I have had it edited over by three friends and I was just told that there are still some grammatical errors.  Never enough fresh eyes.  I am posting it despite my not having time to return and find those errors.  I will assure you that Sunlight will be edited by a professional before it is published.

My intention is to offer a taste of it, to hear thoughts regarding flow, if you are attracted to the story at all, or anything else that pops up, even grammatical errors.

Click here to read the first 30 pages.

M

Memoir Writing – Discover Your Life

We are going to begin at the end.  We are going to write our obituary.  What do we want it to say?  Loving mother?  Devoted father?  Hard worker?  Passionate about the community?   Or perhaps you feel it would say “Old drunk who could never get a handle on things.”

Write as your life is today or how you see it ending.  Maybe you just entered a journey of healing and recovery and see a different end to your current life than you did a month ago.  Write what you want other’s to say about you.  It may feel uncomfortable to say good things about yourself but try to go there.  When you pass away people will look for the goodness in you to write about.   They are not going to write about all the horrible things you tell yourself about yourself everyday.

Some of us think there isn’t much good in us, which I believe to be untrue.  No matter, the trick is for you to believe in your own self-worth not for me to preach it to you.  Find that one thing and write about it.  Maybe it is a nice smile that can warm people.  Maybe you were a free spirit when you were a child until someone took that away from you.   Claim it back. Write about it.

Traditionally obituaries are written.  Paragraph after paragraph.  But this is your obituary.  You can do it any way you want.  If you want to write a poem, please do so.  Maybe you would like to do mind mapping, please do so.  You could also create a collage of photos of yourself over the years.  There is a decent website that I haven’t played around with much but it is www.vuvox.com that allows you to make a digital collage.   Or get some glue and paste copies of your treasured photos on a board.  Anything you want can go.  The important thing is to express yourself and tell your story.

Here is my sample obituary:

Marlene Luneng, age 36, died today.  She was a loving mother, albeit a bit distracted with her new writing career, and a loyal wife.  She leaves behind three wonderfully gifted and beautiful daughters, three amazing sisters and her parents.

Those around her saw her as attentive and giving.  Sometimes too much.  She was committed to working with the public and loved chatting with individuals and hearing their stories.  Her children were often frustrated at how strangers on the street or in check-out lines at grocery stores would tell their mother such detailed stories of themselves to her.

She enjoyed giving people a listening ear and some  inspiration and considered herself a muse to some.  She was also known for retelling other’s stories as inspiration to others.  A messenger of sorts.

Her life work involved various jobs in the public and private sphere until she realized she only wanted to work for the public.  With that decision came opportunities to work with inner-city youth in Saskatoon’s not-for-profit community, and then in government helping other’s attain their educational dreams in rural Saskatchewan.

This was not enough for her and she soon left it to pursue her own passions of writing, story telling and educating others to be themselves and follow their true essence.   Always wanting to understand the mystery of life she realized this was what she was meant to do.  Sadly she leaves us before being able to touch us with her gift.

She will be cremated and her ashes will be spread throughout their family home in Rose Valley where she feels is the only true home she ever had.  Afterwards she hopes everyone will be joyful and celebrate her life and passing with dancing, music and good food.

Let us begin here, at the end.  Please, I invite you to share your obituary.  If you like, send it to me privately at marleneluneng@yahoo.ca