as ordinary as a hot cup of tea
a big sigh taken without thought,
black woolen gloves for cold hands
warmth radiating from a wood stove
ordinary moments that sneak up to become…life
waking one winter morning
dawn shines through bedroom window
sharp blades of light slice through
slumber, a beacon of
courage seeking a new day
working on a short wintry afternoon
outside my office window,
robin perches on bare branches of a red bud tree
stares back at me with a question in its black eyes
maybe singing, are we there yet?
walking outside one chilly evening
the moons iridescent ring grabs and shoots me
to the stars and back, to loom among the oak crowns,
a screech owl woman
bursting with mystery, calling for change
wondering, that after 27 years
your sweet smile flashes and sparks
sends shivers up my spine
stokes a fire that’s not been quenched
asking why would we want to rush these things?
grace finds us in odd moments
maybe on some ordinary morning
departs from us not where we are found
instead, transports us to uncharted realms
leaving no footprints behind
when is a smile more than a smile, a robin more than a bird,
the moon’s ring an uncanny passage,
morning sunlight a wake-up call and
when we pause to listen…
the ordinary may sound like a chorus of hallelujah
© January 20, 2016
1950’s Ideal Woman’s Body
Who says a size 12 is Fat! Who decides that generous curves are not beautiful. I grew up believing that a size 12 was an marvelous size for a woman, and that this model was sexy and gorgeous. A woman had a soft belly, flesh on her arms, and hips that she could swing. Mae West allegedly once said: “Cultivate your curves they may be dangerous but they won’t be avoided.” Did Mae West or this model worry that she wouldn’t be loved or liked because of how she looked? There is definitely beauty in a smile, in sparkling eyes, and open arms In the next few blogs I want to explore what Beauty means to all of us now. We can use words to hurt ourselves or use those same words to build our self-esteem.
Today I am a size 12 and I have to stop myself constantly comparing myself to the size 2 woman and thinking I am enormous. I have quite a few more scars than this model, but we are not shaped so differently. I am decades older than she is in the photo, and my belly bulges a bit more than hers and there’s extra flesh on my arms that swings. My ass maybe a little more generous, and my thighs rub when I sweat. But how am I not still beautiful? My negative self-talk says that my beauty is only on the surface. My self-esteem says what matters most is literally seeing the beauty in myself and other people.
I did a casual survey on FB on what people thought was beautiful. All ten women who responded said that beauty was in the eyes, the soul, and the heart. One woman said that developing and holding onto a moral integrity was beautiful. Another woman said that being pretty was very different from being beautiful. One woman said “I may look and feel like an arse, but my hubbie, and children make me feel beautiful.” Everyone of them made a distinction between outward appearances and how we feel inside, or how others love makes us feel. How do you define beauty? When do you feel beautiful?
“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
excerpt from “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou
Though we come to this path of recovery shattered, fragmented pieces of ourselves we are still beautiful human beings. The actions and substances we have taken in an effort to feel whole and complete are the very things that have left us in this broken state. We find in recovery through the 12 steps something that will actually mend the broken pieces. Through recovery we discover our own beauty.
We are mended using what we can call the gold powder of the 12-Steps, yoga, meditation, connection with a higher power and being of service to others. These are the elements that make up the golden lacquer of the path of recovery. When we use these tools as the golden glue in which to mend our broken pieces, something incredible happens. We become transformed into an entirely new being more beautiful than what our original self could have been.
When we look in the mirror, our cracks are still there, filled in now with unique golden lines. We see the cracks and our defects of character more clearly. Maybe we felt like fragile dolls before, too vulnerable, too fragile to live without our addictions. Through recovery we know where we have been and we are better now for having been there. We continue to take personal inventories, and make amends whenever necessary. We have combined our fragility with resilience to find a life of such richness that we never could have imagined. We have been damaged, have a history, but now we are more beautiful with our scars and cracks filled in with the golden powder of recovery.
From Alice in Wonderland: “Alice: Well, when I was lost, I suppose it’s good advice to stay where you are until someone finds you. But who’d ever think to look for me here? [sigh] Alice: Good advice. If I listened earlier, I wouldn’t be here. But that’s just the trouble with me. I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”
Sound familiar? Alice is talking to herself and during this moon phase we will hear our contrary voices clearly speaking. One part of us wants to stay home and write all day holed up in our office, another part of us is ready to socialize. Or one part of us may say yes to a new situation, while the other quieter voice may say slow down don’t move too fast. Or even simpler, do we exercise or not?
Do we always listen to the contrary voices? Probably not. We often train ourselves to block out the dialogue we don’t want to hear. However, sometimes those contrary voices are really angels in disguise. They may be warning us of trouble ahead, or coaching us in better self care, or suggesting that the relationship we are thinking of dumping is worth saving. Truly the river in Egypt is not the only form of denial that we swim in, and accepting all parts of ourselves is a spiritual journey. Sometimes those contrary voices may be very, very quiet and we need to slow way down to hear what they say.
With this new moon we are given so many choices. That is both what’s fun and what makes us feel a little crazy. Really! Every once in awhile going a little crazy is good for the soul. Have fun with friends and get your work done. With the dual nature of the moon in Gemini you actually can do both.
Faced with new choices how do we choose? What do we do? Communication with ourselves and those involved is the key to coming through this moon more or less intact. Even saying, “well a part of me wants this, and a part of me wants that” is a great exercise in allowing those contrary voices room. And the best part of this moon is everyone is feeling the same way!
So go ahead and talk to yourself today, no one will notice and think you are off your meds! They are probably doing the same thing. Talk it out, share with those you love and the solution will appear.
NEW MOON in Aries is the beginning of the Astrological New Year, spring time inspires us to bring in the new. Aries is the sign of the self, and sets in motion the internal and eternal quest for “Who am I?’ and “Who am I now?” We are inspired at this time of year to make changes, clean out our closets, and try new things. We are encouraged to find and trust our own unique expression to embody the changes and the energies we wish to experience.
We literally are able to set the seeds we planted last Winter Solstice into motion. Aries is a go-getter, enthusiastic and all about motion. The old aphorism of Spring fever is true, it moves us to say to ourselves “Where do we want to go? What do we want to do?” We certainly don’t want to stay still and work!
In our quest to define who we are Aries energy can be very cerebral, impulsive, and self-centered. During this time we may need to be reminded that “The hardest journey is from our head to our heart. But once we get there, we’ll know who we are.” When I am feeling comfortable in my own skin, I know who I am and can therefore have compassion and love for everyone I encounter. When I am scrambling to find myself, I stumble, and sometimes inadvertently trip over others feelings. During the month of Aries our competitive energies may also be engaged. We may think we have to “be the best”. That’s when the compassion in Maya Angelou’s statement helps me to pause and find compassion for myself. In recovery I am learning that I am doing better rather than getting better. My soul’s already whole and wonderful, it’s my brain, and heart that need convincing of that truth. Aries people can also be great models of self-compassion, where they believe “all I need to do is do my best today, and then maybe do better tomorrow.”
We must each find our courage—an Aries trait—to become the people we are meant to evolve into. We are challenged to bring our ideas, our love and our purpose to help the larger community. As we find ourselves, we are then able to bring our unique gifts into play. As we share our gifts, the more we find ourselves. The question “Who am I now” becomes a guide to action and more action. What would our future be like if everyday we knew we did our best, and looked for the option of doing better tomorrow?
Perhaps you are like me. All my life I have been told “I am too sensitive”, “too intense”, or “just too something. As a child I took that in as there was something wrong with me, that I needed to cover, adapt, or pretend better. Now as an adult I am finding that these traits can be gifts. They help me to write, to be intuitive, to care about people, to be deliberate in my way of speaking.
With psychological tests I seemed to perch on the edge, neither completely introspective or extroverted. I like people, and I need quiet time to recharge and come back to balance. With all the recovery work I have done, therapy I have undergone, meditations I have focused on there was still a place that felt broken inside. I often asked myself why couldn’t I stop being hyper alert, stop being overwhelmed so easily, stop caring so much about others.
Hearing the symptoms, taking the self-test, and discussing this with friends on FB I am accepting that I am and always have been a Highly Sensitive Person. There are positive attributes of Highly Sensitive Persons that can be remembered as DOES:
- Depth of processing.
- Over aroused (easily compared to others)
- Emotional reactivity and high empathy
- Sensitivity to subtle stimuli
Take a self test here on Oprah.com http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Am-I-Too-Sensitive-Highly-Sensitive-Person-Quiz
This is what I found: you’re a Highly-Sensitive Person (HSP)
With your hyperawareness come many strengths. HSPs consider matters deeply and often have unique and interesting perspectives. You are intuitive and tend to be an emotional leader (the first to be outraged by injustice, for example). But because you’re so tuned in to the subtleties of your surroundings, you can feel overwhelmed in chaotic environments. You’re not necessarily shy or introverted; you simply think more clearly when you’re not overstimulated—which is why navigating unfamiliar places and meeting many new people at once (think cocktail parties or client presentations) can be especially taxing. To avoid shutting down in such situations, it can help to prepare in advance. Rehearse what you want to say. Brainstorm conversation starters. Bring a friend for social support. Take frequent breaks. It’s crucial for HSPs to build downtime into their lives. Make rest a priority at least one day a week. Take time off every three months. Learn to meditate. And try not to overextend yourself when it comes to family and friends. Thanks to their affinity for reading other people’s emotions, HSPs frequently dole out more support than they can afford to give. To handle your physical sensitivities, choose decaf tea, coffee, and sodas. And carry a snack with you (preferably some form of protein) so you never get too hungry. Finally, keep in mind that HSPs tend to change careers several times. More than most people, you crave meaningful work—but a job that’s too stressful won’t make you happy. It may take several tries to find the right fit.
For the first time in 19 years this New Year is also a New Moon. Culturally we are looking at the chance to start over with a new year, or at least list our resolutions. With any New Moon we ‘become open to new beginnings”. The combination has great potential for powerful intention which can lead to profound change.
This New Moon is in the sign Capricorn which is primordial feminine energy. Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign December 22- January 21. The qualities of Capricorn are: organized, ambitious, hard-working, creative, practical, and dedicated. Capricorn is the original planner with great ideas, and a wealth of energy to accomplish goals. However, Capricorn energy also opens the door to thinking we “have the perfect or at least the best” solution to an issue. When we avoid the mental state of having to have things be perfect we can mine great patience, or even better acceptance instead.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for anyone during this Capricorn time is to understand there is a process to everything. Just like our lives and our loves, we cannot make the plants grow faster in our gardens, they have their own divine timing. Acceptance of life on life’s terms is a great adventure. Some days we would rather have things be as we “planned”. And on those days if we listen closely we can hear God laugh at our plans as they skitter away like fish swimming in a pond. When we walk our days with acceptance in our hands and hearts we touch, and share healing.
The Buddhist’s have a great phrase “beginner’s mind”. When we approach this New Year and New Moon let’s experiment and travel this journey with an open mind and an open heart. With this openness we can also choose which words we want to use to define this time. What will be the words you choose? Will it be love instead of fear, or joy instead of settling?