Beginning Again

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Earlier this year I posted on Facebook that I was ready to get out into the workforce. Behind these words was a desire to make something my own, a homier home, a feeling of fulfillment and purpose each day. I wanted to wake up and feel that I had something to give the world (other than trying to be the most perfect mom and raise functioning children for society.) Feeling blessed to be able to stay at home with my kids I wanted more.

When I posted the desire to work on Facebook my original intention was to stay open to whatever came my way. But as friends started providing me with suggestions, I got all clammy and hid in a corner. I realized I wasn’t able to do that.
Floating in the background was Thirty-One Gifts. People new I loved the product. That I was spending a lot of money on it. Dreaming of it and how I could organize this area or another with the products. Or how I just loved the feel of a tote, its soft cotton. But I was not a sales person. I prefer to hide and let people find me. So this wasn’t for me. Yet I would go to bed thinking of Thirty-One.
Simultaneously I was taking a course called Foundations of Anthroposophy through the Rudolf Steiner Center in Toronto. One of my weekly homework assignments was to become someone else. Simply go to a store or park and watch someone’s body movements or habits. Then go to another store and act them out. This was a very nervous and anxious experience for me yet I did it every week with mixed results. But always I felt different. I felt like someone else. Taking on their walk made me create a story about them. Who they were. Sometimes I would feel more relaxed and joyful, easy going. Other times I felt confident. Each time a different emotion. My mentor taught me that all of these personality traits are in me. Until I can take them on as my own and make them mine I can walk differently, for example, to reach these traits.

“I am talking about a life driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Soon this idea started to mesh with the idea of selling Thirty-One products. Maybe I could be ‘that person’. I needed work on my image of a direct sales person and make it my own. So here I am. I decided to go for it on the 21st of July. Take on a new adventure. See if I can be another version of myself.

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Soon I found that using and dreaming of Thirty-One products was inspiring me to write again. My Muse. Writing is my soul’s life. My soul, me, feels so excited to be useful again.
I had several intentions when I joined Thirty-One. They are:

  • To learn more about business. I wish to be my own entrepreneur one day and could use some training
  • To be financially independent. Even if I can just make $500 a month I will feel like I can be more creative and make my home a home; my life my life. This will make me feel successful
  • To push myself out of my comfort zone. I have become such a quiet hermit. Sitting here eating to fulfil what is lacking in my life. I have put on 20 pounds in the last year
  • I need more things on my plate. I need more than home. The desire to connect with others and hear their stories excites me.

Here I am beginning my journey. I am so glad you are on this path with me…Stepping out of my box.

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The Spiritual Path

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Recently a used book store contacted me to tell me that a Rudolf Steiner book came in. I am on a waiting list for any of his books. I am mostly interested in his views on education, child development and spiritual development although much of the latter is above my level of comprehension. The book that came in was called The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path. Wow! What a title right! So I got the book despite its level of intensity.

I read Chapter One in kind of a blur. It is good but I went at it with the intention for it to distract me or fill a void not to actually take in its content. It wasn’t perfectly clear to me then but now I see what I did. There was a gap before I started Chapter Two. Life got busy and I couldn’t pick it up I guess. The other day a thought popped into my head “Why this book?”.  Why did this book come to me instead of all the others that I have wanted for a long time. The ones that have been on my amazon wish list or my goodreads “want to read” category. Why this one. Perhaps I got more from Chapter One than I thought? Could this be a sign?

So I start reading Chapter Two and what I discover is inspiration to write. He describes what I have been feeling unconsciously when I write. He talks about how spiritual forces enter through us when we perform any act and we act with those forces. They embody our work.

Doesn’t this make our work feel more important. Like we are supposed to do what we are supposed to do? When I get an erge or inspiration to write something that is the spiritual forces working through us and that we really really really should act on it.

When I get a feeling to walk a certain direction or to not do something as planned that perhaps I should not do it. The spiritual forces are guiding me?

Now I can understand if many people out there find this hog-wash. Perhaps they, you, have never experienced something spiritual. I have so I feel what he is saying quite easily. Steiner addresses this issue in Chapter Two as well. That unless you have had a spiritual experience or think in this way there is no convincing you. I don’t intend to try. I will simply keep on reading.

My first thought when I asked if this book came to me as a sign was in naming our baby. For some reason I am hell bound on her having a name from my mothers maternal side. I feel as though that side of the family has a unique energy and that energy is in this baby girl. My husband thinks I am nuts and that is okay. When this book dropped into my world I thought maybe it was shedding some light into why I feel this way. Maybe Chapter Three: The Presence of the Dead in Our Life or Chapter Four: The Blessing of the Dead will shed some light on that. What intense titles hey? Steiner is very specific on his wording. Words are very important to him.

What is even more special about this situation is that I had been asking for a Steiner book from the used book store. I had put my name on the list a year ago and lately I had been thinking that I may never hear from them or it will be a long time. Then POOF! they called. Ask and you shall receive.

Photo curtesy of Sunstone Creations

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.

 

A Bit of Sunlight – The Living Dead

I am heading to my in-laws cabin today.  It is in the middle of no-where so I will not be able to post my regular Sunlight post on Sunday so I thought I would do it now.  Plus, it seems a little depressing for a Sunday post.  

Here I am at the age of thirty-four and I am the living dead. I am in the bathroom. I am not sure how long I have been on the toilet or how many times I have wiped myself. I seem to keep slowly coming to the realization that I am done peeing and I reach for the toilet paper only to feel like I have done this already, and then I drift off again. How many times have I done this? I don’t search for an answer. I get up, flush and move on with my day; to lay on the floor in the living room.

I followed the path laid out to me. The path that others were on. The path that society told me to follow: I went to school; I got an education; I found a job; I got married; I bought a house; I had a baby; Then why did all of these perfect steps lead me to the carpet, struggling for each breath and feeling lost and without purpose?

I have been telling my husband when we go to bed at night that I am not sure why I am alive. I am so sad that I can not move during the day. I feel guilt for laying here but I can not get up and do anything meaningful.

“I don’t like you talking that way,” he would reply. It sounds like he is scolding me for feeling this way. His tone is sharp. He mentions to me that I should see someone, a counsellor or therapist. His work will cover the cost.

He comes home one day and tells me quietly, when Teela and I are in the sunporch finishing supper, “There are a lot of people here that need you and love you.”

I know he is talking about him and the girls but all I can think is that living for them is not enough. I have been living for them for so long and I don’t want to anymore. It is exhausting and draining me to my core.

It isn’t that I don’t love them. I do. I really do. But I have nothing more to give them. I can not cook supper for them. I can not pay attention to the words they say to me and the questions they ask of me. All I am is a shadow. If I give them much more of myself I will disappear. I don’t care about anything except for an answer as to why I am forced to get up and live this hell every day.

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?