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self-love and renewal

April 8th, 2012

There are moments that, rather magically, leave a forever impression in our minds. I remember one such moment that returned to me years later, full force.

As a very young pre-teen, some crazy-man Sunday school teacher told our little group that we should “love our neighbors, as ourselves.” Never the shy one, I spoke up and said something like: What are you talking about? How do you love yourself? That doesn’t make any sense. It didn’t make sense to me, not at all.

DSC00158

I was not unfamiliar with the heavy black book, the pictures with Angels and men with sticks. Our dad had been a Protestant minister for a while when we were very young, and never really stopped preaching to his personal choir. We had been taught that we should love other people, help strangers, and turn the other cheek (whatever that meant). I do remember the teacher stopping the class to answer my question. Unfortunately, the answer did not stick in my head as solidly as the question. I wish it had. It might have saved me years of abuse.

If you are being abused, you have either forgotten to love yourself, or never knew how.

Deep down, do you honestly think that you deserve the beatings, the humiliation, or the ever-increasing emotional turmoil that steals your self-worth and your hope for the future? Think about it. Is this the life you wanted? Does it bear any resemblance to the dreams that you had, when you were dating this charming man? (Yes, they are all charming. Don’t even bother to disagree.)

If you think, even for a moment, that this isn’t what you had in mind, then perhaps you need to get away while you still have a shred of self-confidence. If you are convinced that you deserve this treatment, or, that God is punishing you for whatever reasons, you are already deep into the black hole of helplessness.

How will you ever dig yourself out of this hole if you do not love yourself, and your own life, enough to push the emotional rubbish off of your face and climb out? Self-love, amazingly enough, is simply having a basic sense of self-preservation that is intact and functioning.

Deciding that you are worth something to the universe, to yourself, to your family, is empowering. Realizing, if even for a moment, that you are not the repulsive, useless, sub-human that your abuser makes you out to be, will give you that one, precious ethereal scrap of strength, to pull yourself up and get out of the hellhole you are living in before it kills you. Please use it.


dark night

March 24th, 2012

Waking up in a wild panic, heart pounding, covered in sweat, that’s a Nightmare. Do you remember it? If you can remember, turn on a light and write it down immediately. Understanding nightmares could help you to get rid of them.

dark night

If you are having nightmares on a regular basis, change something! Try filling your brain with beautiful thoughts. Read something inspiring before you go to bed. Listen to soft music. Light some candles if you have them. Dim the lamps. Take a bubble bath. Anything that settles your mind and body before going to bed is helpful.

Set the mood in your home, your living space, your bedroom: make it peaceful and calm. It doesn’t cost money to change the mood. Get anything that is distracting or upsetting out of your living area. Really look around and see into what you are surrounding yourself with. What is the significance of that thing? Why is it in your home, in your private space? Is it something that makes you feel calm, or does it cause some emotional discomfort?

Do not read the newspaper or listen to the t.v. news for a while, I mean weeks, or months, see if it makes a difference. If you must have t.v. turn on the weather channel or watch old b/w movies. Don’t forget . . . garbage in = garbage out.

Some Nightmares are simply about how you ate too much for dinner. However, some can be warnings. Your mind may be trying to protect you from yourself. Think about what you are thinking about… if you are obsessing over what should have been, or what you could have done, get over it, now. Let it go. What is, is. You are here, in your own bed. You are safe. Try not to live in the past. Today is really important too!

I always recommend Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pincola Estes, Ph.D. (the book is available at Amazon). She really digs into those Dark Man dreams and how paying attention to them can help you with important decisions in your life. This book saved my life. Every woman should read it!

Don’t forget the importance of Hydration. If you are dehydrated you are handicapping yourself. Your body and your brain need hydration to function properly. Learning to love yourself starts with taking care of your mind and body. Loving yourself is so important. It changes everything about who you believe you are, and what you attract in your life.


destiny

March 6th, 2012

I never wanted to bring children into a world where an idiot with a red button could end every living thing in moments, or, where nuclear fallout could make survival worse than death. What a fool I was. I thought the world was too dangerous for children, but my relationship with their father was the real poison in our lives.

night light

I was not his victim. I realize that now. I could have walked away a thousand times before I became so stuck in my own mind that escape seemed impossible. In the end, I became my own victim. I decided to believe that the things he said about me were true, his estimation of my worth as a human being, and my abilities as a parent.

He said that I would never leave him because I could never make it on my own, that I would never be able to support our children. And I decided to believe that I needed him. I decided to believe that I was helpless without him. I decided that it was my destiny to have that life, and that I deserved my fate.

Today, I am surprised that my children have survived their mother. I am happy that they both decided that they wanted good lives and that they wanted to have children. If they had stayed in the hole I dug for us, it would have been a much different picture. We all had to learn to love ourselves. I had to realize that it wasn’t just me who had a rotten life. I was giving my kids a worse life than I had. They didn’t get to decide. I had to decide to do something to change it, instead of wishing that something would happen to save us.

I am grateful today. I have learned to have faith in myself and to take action when it is necessary. To take control of whatever I am able to control, and to always try, even if it looks hopeless.

As a grandmother, I am now free to love without expectations. I love every moment that I get to spend with my grandchildren. Each child is different, special, and surprising to me. I love every amazed smile, every joyous laugh, every touch, every song, every hug. Nothing can ever match the joy of loving the children of your children.

If you think it is your destiny to be battered, that you deserve the pain you are living with, please, think again. Life can be good. It can be beautiful, if you decide to take control of your own destiny.


night pulse

March 1st, 2012

DSC00820_2

I hope that you are well and at peace tonight. I walked outside and breathed in the Universe for a few minutes earlier. Loving the trees, touching leaves with my fingertips. Barefooted, feeling the earth beneath me.

We have a storm coming, and the sky is a misty, leaded grey. Highlighted against the night sky are tall trees, some with bare branches, some still teeming with leaves and noisy critters. The palms tower over the others. Pine cones and prickly little brown balls litter the lawn. The grass is dry, with patches of brown and green. The roses have been cut back for the season. Silly white daisies are falling all over each other, blooming in February, like they know what they are doing.

All I have to do is smell the dirt, the air, feel the wind, breathe in the colors of the trees and flowers, and I AM part of the Universe. I am learning to love myself. This is one way I that I do it. I allow myself to walk outside in the dark and just love what is around me, and love that I can feel it and see it and be part of it.

No longer do I spend my days and nights wishing for the cold darkness of non-being. Tonight, I am happy to be alive. Happy to share my life with people, dogs, birds, trees, flowers, clouds, and the Energies of the Universe.

Again, I am glad that I did not let an abuser convince me that my life was not worth living. I hope that if you are in that place, you can believe in a better way, and that you will get help, before it is too late.


NLP (oh yeah?)

February 28th, 2012

Carmel beach - good doggy

Two years ago, I went back to school to learn to be a Hypnotist. This is L.A. after all. We do stuff like that here. 
Fifty-two weeks. Private college tuition. Sixty-one years old.

My brain was yelling at me . . . this does not compute! But the idea was impossible to dismiss from my mind once the seed was planted. I was hooked!

So, along the way I heard about NLP (magical, mystical, secretive….) What is NLP? (Neuro Linguistic Programming). I wanted to know. Needed to know. So, I bought some books, read some about about frogs and princes, and signed up for the class. Excited!

What is this amazing thing you can do with your mind?
 Here is the bottom line. If you want it, you can have it. If you do not want it, you can make it go away!

True story:
I quit smoking (arrrrrrgh!) because my darling husband woke up one morning and decided he should quit. I wanted to kill him. (no secret) (he knows) (I have never been so angry in my life!)… being a good wife, I KNEW that I would end up smoking in the garage (blech!) or outside, in the rain, or snow, or whatever (aw c’mon, really . . . this is L.A.) in order to be supportive. I know how difficult this decision is! I was mad! Really mad! Really Really mad! 
About three days later I bought a box of nicotine gum…. I chewed the gum. I pasted the gum to my gums. I slept with the gum. I drank coffee with the gum. I begged the gum to get me through the next craving. Finally, 
I was free of Cigarettes.
Oops.. Now I was addicted to Nicotine gum… (for the next eight… or was it ten years?) Yeah, nothing like switching one addiction for another.

So, here is where NLP comes in: I took the eighty hour Practitioner class. It was great. I was hooked, but good. I wanted to take the Master Practitioner class. Another eighty hours. (Weekends, of course, since Hypnosis College was still ongoing on weeknights.) The cost… oh, just a few shekels short of a bushel. Here was my reality: Get rid of the nicotine gum and you will have the money for the class… If you can’t get rid of the nicotine gum, then who are you kidding anyway???

I went to the Professor. Will you help me get rid of the gum? Even though I don’t want to? Even though it really makes me angry to have to give it up to take your class? Even though your class means so much to me that I WILL give it up, if you help me. . . because I don’t know how I can do it otherwise…. (sigh) (arrgh!) One hour and fifty minutes later, I dumped about fifty bucks worth of nicotine gum into the trash can in his office, shook his hand, said about a thousand thanks, and never wanted it again. Powerful? It was for me! I took the class, got my Master Certification and nothing has ever been the same for me!

Want NLP? I can hook you up! (No, I do not teach NLP – I just think it is the best thing in the whole world to help you get out of your present garbage and into reality.) If you really want help – I know someone… (no strings attached. No referral fees… no nothing. Just love.) I want you to succeed. I want you to feel the freedom that I feel. The freedom from that drug/thing/whatever that that ruled my/your life for (fill in the blank) number of years. I am lucky to be alive. And even more lucky to be free! I wish the same for you.

p.s. Enjoy some self-love. This is amazing stuff.


dangerous

February 25th, 2012

aqu jelly

old women can be dangerous

we say what we think.
and we often speak
without
even
being spoken to.

fevers,
darkness,
and broken hearts
no longer frighten us.

people are more frightening
than life’s random pains.
those who live in judgment
and
speak sly criticisms.
they make life harder than it has to be.

I remember being young.
what a lot of trouble that was.

my soul was broken once
and many times again
by people
who claimed love, or friend.

dogs are better at love,
and a cat
will, at least,
be silent.

I love the freedoms of old age.
i seek wisdom,
speak my mind,
and
love without walls

my sisters, celebrate with me.
we are dangerously free, now that we are old.

wisdom grows from pain.
freedom is a gift
that you can give to yourself
after the wounds have healed.


moondust

February 11th, 2012

moonshadow detail2dreams and wishes are made of moondust
and, if you believe,
little fairies will sprinkle moondust on your eyelids at bedtime
you will have beautiful dreams
and
a beautiful day tomorrow
if
you believe in moondust and fairies

nobody changes, really
we wish they would, but they do not,
we might even pray that they will
but they can not

god will not change him for you
only you can realize
the truth
if you wish to,
there is nobody you can change
but you

if you are being battered
he does not really love you
no matter what pretty words he says
or how many sweet roses he brings to you
after he batters you,

it is a lie
a terrible lie

battering is not love
loving is love
kindness is love
truth is love

battering is a crime of power,
not passion
just like rape
it is not love
it is non-love,
or un-love,
truly
he only loves himself

and
if you can learn to love yourself,
just the tiniest bit
you can run
and not be battered any longer
you can start a new life
begin again

all it takes is
just that one little bit of self-love
(that he wants you to believe is selfishness)

try it

I am a child of god
I do not deserve to be battered
I do not deserve this life of pain and fear
I should love myself
enough to leave
even if I have to pretend to love myself
I can leave this battering behind

and start over
and be totally and completely
free

and the past will be behind me
and every tomorrow
will be mine to decide how to live


only believe

February 5th, 2012

lightshow

My dreams are brightly colored movies that I live in, with all five, or six, senses in working order. It hasn’t been like this for me always, and I ascribe the change to my senior citizen brain.

My dreams are so real that I don’t feel like I am dreaming. They are usually pleasant, and amazingly diverse, as though my brain is sorting through my memories, the seasons of my life, books I have loved, and people who have been important to me; playfully creating a game of mix-it-all-up and see how it looks when you play it back.

I wonder if this is the beginning of senility. Or, if this is one of the benefits of living to be old enough to have wrinkles, grey hair, and arthritic bones.

Now and then, however, my sub-conscious dregs up something from the dark basements of my childhood, or the deep-black somewhere of my tomorrows. Most recently I was walking through a rather large group of people, searching for someone. It felt like perhaps my husband, or my children, or someone very close to me. It was important, I wanted to say good-bye and to share my love. I kept looking, but could not find anyone that I knew. I kept asking strangers, but no one responded to me. It was unsettling and a bit frightening. I didn’t sleep well at all.

I was telling my husband about the dream later the next morning, and the truth he spoke hit me like cold water in my face: “If you can’t communicate with anyone, you are the one who is dead.”

I wondered aloud if being dead could possibly be that troublesome. Would I wander forever, through groups of strangers, looking for my loved ones? Was this my personal hell? Why wouldn’t death be the peaceful sleep and relief from the troubles of life that I had always hoped it would be? I do not know the answer, only the question.

When my grandson was five he was having nightmares. My daughter was beside herself. Every night he woke up crying. I finally bought him a dream-catcher, and told him that he wouldn’t have any more bad dreams if he hung it by his bed. That was years ago. I had forgotten about it.

Recently his younger sister said to me: “Grandma, I have to move my dream-catcher closer to my bed. I had a bad dream last night.” (And here I thought they never listened to anything I said.)

Ahah! My dream-catcher was taken down months ago, for cleaning or some such nonsense . . . it must be time to hang it back up. It seems to me that it doesn’t matter what you believe, only that you believe it.


be angry, be very angry

January 30th, 2012

mtry sunset

I take pleasure in being the Crone. I stayed in my personal hell much longer than most, but I knew immediately that I would never go back. I knew, absolutely, that one of us would kill the other if I did.

I have much to say, but little that anyone really wants to hear. 
It takes time.
 It will get better. 
Believe in yourself.
 You are not any of those names he calls you. Yes, I am in favor of the get out while you can strategy, rather than that try again claptrap that is preached and prodded and counseled by the best of the educated, but uninitiated. If you go back, or keep trying to fix the thing, you could end up dead. Or worse. (And yes, I can assure you that there are worse things than being dead.)

Anger helps you to get away. Anger is that tiny speck of self-preservation that keeps knocking on your skull… Let’s GO! It’s not safe here. Why do we stay? What is so important about this painful marriage? Did my marriage vows include loyalty up to and including pain, shame, fear, humiliation and terror? Does my faith/my god/my church require me to keep living with a person who frightens me, and my children? Am I expected (required?) to forgive this constant abuse because I have failed somehow to be the perfect wife?

Who is this creature, the perfect wife? C’mon, could it really be one of those perfect housewives on those pathetic black and white television series of the fifties and sixties? Barbara Billingsley, Harriet Nelson, Jane Wyatt, or Barbara Stanwyck (now that’s really going back)…

Never mind that those heroines were perfectly dressed, makeup and hair never out of place. They had lovely dinners served on rented china and starched white linens on the studio set of their perfect little homes, all in skirts and heels for goodness sake… Fantasy. God save us from fantasy!

They never had to go grocery shopping with two screaming toddlers and not enough money. I never saw Barbara Billingsley with a crying child, grape jelly on her blouse, or sweat on her brow. We, the mortal women of the real world will never measure up.

Yes, I will be ANGRY!

ANGER keeps you fighting. It helps your adrenalin get you out of bed in the morning when you don’t have anywhere to go or any money to get there.

ANGER keeps you alive. If I never was angry, if I had joyfully accepted this terrible treatment, I would be long dead by now.

ANGER is not beautiful. It can be ugly, in fact, but I can keep you from losing your last marble down that wide open drain of despair.


So, be angry. Be as angry as you like. But don’t forget to love yourself. That’s what’s really important in this recovery thing. Love yourself, even just a little, every day.

The rest will come. Yes, it will.


job hunting

January 15th, 2012

DSC00035When you are ready, here is some job hunting info. I’ve been on both sides of the interview process, so I hope this will be helpful information for you.

If all you need is an Application:

-Your application should be extremely neat , carefully written, and easy to read. Do not rush. Bring your own pen, do not use pencil.
-Almost every job has reporting requirements of some kind, the employer will want to know that your work will be legible, and that you have a certain command of the language.
-Tell the truth. Don’t embellish or exaggerate. If you can’t answer the questions honestly, look for a different job.

Your resume:

-Microsoft Word has nice resume templates, it is not necessary to pay someone to prepare it for you.
-Keep it to one page, that’s an absolute. Less is more. If the employer wants more information, let them ask you in the interview.
-If you had several similar jobs many years ago you can lump them together and concentrate on your current experience in your resume.
-Include your education, special training, awards, scholarships, etc.
-If you are mailing your resume, you will need clean looking, business appropriate paper.

The Cover letter:

- Your cover letter should be tailored to the job and to the company: why you are interested in the position, what education, talents, experience, etc., you have that make you the best person for the job, and why you would like to work for that company. Again, keep it to one page.
- The cover letter is critical if you are mailing or emailing your application. It must be well done, but it must also reflect your personality, not some sterile on-line resume and cover letter writing service. If you do use a service, be sure to re-write the letter in your own style using their format.
- Do not rely on spell-check. Make sure the letter and the resume are free of errors.

The Interview

-Be on time (about two minutes prior to your interview time). Do not arrive thirty minutes early, it is just as impolite as being late.
-It is best to do a practice run unless you know the area intimately. Allow time to park, check in with the receptionist, etc. Don’t rely on luck to get you there on time if you are flying blind. Also scout out somewhere that you can use the restroom if you think you will need to before going in to the interview.
-Offer your hand, shake firmly, but do not try to break the person’s fingers. Say their name, “Ms. Jones, thank you for seeing me.”
-Wait until you are invited to sit before you do so. Put your purse or briefcase on the floor, not on your lap, do not fidget with anything while you are talking.
-Look at the interviewer’s face, sit still, no wiggling, and wait for their questions.
-Don’t interrupt the interviewer. They have already read your resume and your cover letter, so they will know what they want to ask you.
-Do not offer any information that is personal or irrelevant.
-Be direct, honest and sincere, that’s enough, don’t aim for entertainment.
-Do not ask about time off, vacation, benefits or sick time until you have been offered the job. (You should have been able to find this out in your research of the company before you turned in your application.)
-Wear appropriate clothing for the position you are seeking, i.e., if you are applying for a position in a warehouse, do not wear a suit to the interview, wear “working” clothes. Do not wear bluejeans for any interview, ever.
-When the interview is over, offer your hand again, thank the interviewer for his/her time, and leave promptly.

Testing

-If you can’t pass the drug test, don’t bother with the Application.
-Make sure that you have allowed yourself enough time for the interview and any related testing: you should be able to stay and take the tests without panicking about time.

My experience

My personal best interview experience was the last place I worked. It was a large firm, over one hundred secretaries, I knew there was a lot of competition.
The interviewer looked directly at me and said: “Why should I hire you?”
I looked her straight in the eyes and said, calmly: “I work hard, and I show up every day.” (No joke here, I do show up every day. I am not someone who calls in sick twice a month – which employers appreciate, because it costs them money to cover for you when you are out…)

I had the job. I knew it. And best of all, it was true. I would have to prove myself to them, but I knew that I could do it.

p.s. Love yourself, no matter what. If you don’t get the job, let it go. There are so many things involved in hiring someone, so many requirements that the interviewer must try to meet for the department or person that is doing the hiring, matching personalities, finding the right qualifications, it really is not necessarily about you if you aren’t picked for the job. Just keep going forward and looking for something that will be good for you.