Friday, May 24, 2013

Slowing down ...

Slowly, one step at a time.  Wearing these, I have to walk a different way!
 Perhaps it's a message about what I need to do to move forward.

and getting back to the basics. That's what this period of forced inactivity has me doing.  In the busyness of preparing to move, and the acclimating to not moving, I'd allowed some things to slip. And indeed, I've realized that there were things I used to do when I first opened The Place for Reiki in 2003, that I haven't done in quite a while.  So I've returned to old ways of being that helped me get where I am, and that I hope will help sustain and propel me into whatever the next phase of my journey is to be.

As a family therapist, I would often get calls from  distraught and frustrated parents whose children were 'out of control.'  During that initial call they would list a myriad of problems that their children were experiencing and express their own feelings of overwhelm and inadequacy because they couldn't get things under control.  We'd set an appointment and begin therapy.

In many instances it wasn't just the child who needed help. More often than not, the parents needed guidance and direction also. Since children don't come into this world with a how-to manual, and most parents parent according to the parenting style they themselves were parented with, my job was often more one of teaching the parents new and more positive parenting techniques than it was about 'fixing' their child.  What they had learned from their own parents, or were doing in opposition to what their parents had done,  had worked till now. But they were different from their parents, their children were different from who they had been as children, and the world itself was a very different place from the one in which they grew up.  The tools they had in their tool boxes just weren't cutting it.

Over a period of weeks we'd work together to establish new rules and routines, trying things out, reworking them as we needed to, and finally establishing a set of guidelines and practices that worked to re-establish order out of the chaos.  All members of the family were happier and both school and family life were improved.  I'd discharge the child and send the family on its way.

Not infrequently, several months later I'd get a call and the parents would tell me that the child was once again having difficulty.  I'd agree to see the family again, and almost always, the reason that the problems had resurfaced, was because the parents were no longer following the rules and practices we had worked so hard to put in place.  Because they had worked, and the situation improved, the parents would slack off, believing their child was permanently 'fixed', not realizing that the 'fix' was the result of their maintaining the structures we had put in place.  Once the new routines were no longer being followed, the child reverted to the old behaviors.  All that was needed to 'fix' the child again, was to reestablish the parenting practices they previously had in place.

Now, I'm not saying I'm in need of fixing!  I'm just saying that when I was uncertain of who I was being called to be, and what that calling would look like when I left my full time job as a therapist and first opened my office, (much as I feel now with my office closed and the moving plan thwarted) I focused my attention on some practices and strategies that I've let go of.  Practices and strategies that I believed at the time might help me figure things out, might give me the tools I needed to move forward.  And obviously they did, because for nine years The Place for Reiki worked, and so did I! 

So I decided it was time to go back to the basics.  I've begun doing the things that I used to do back in 2003, the things that brought me to this point. I'm spending more time reading books that call to me, that have a message or blueprint that might offer me new tools that might serve me better on this  part of my journey, rather than losing myself in the murder/mystery novels that I can devour so avidly in a few short hours.  I'm spending longer and longer periods of time in meditation, prayer and self Reiki, not setting a timer, but allowing God to let me know when we're done.   I'm listening to webcasts and recordings from a variety of spiritual teachers and leaders and paying attention to any of the spiritual practices or insights they offer that might be helpful  as I search for what I'm supposed to do next.  I'm working desperately to stay away from the computer games that can eat up hours of my day, a great way to escape the 'not knowing.'

Along with the old practices, I'm incorporating some new ones.  I'm using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to help me move past some old issues that are coming up so I can heal them on a deeper level.  (Check out  if you'd like to learn about this amazing process and how it can help you move forward in your own life!)  I'm also working at loving myself better by changing my eating habits, drinking more and better water, and doing exercises to help strengthen my core to support  my back so that I am  more flexible and can live  my life with less discomfort.   

I don't expect to see an immediate return on my investment.  Just like with those parents and kids, I  need to  figure out what works best for me at this point in time.  I am, after all, quite a bit different than I was ten years ago!  And once I do figure it out, I need to put that new set of strategies and practices into play and maintain it!  I'll also have to remember, as I begin to see changes, and I will, that in order to sustain the changes, I have to maintain the practices.  I'll keep you posted on how I do!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My first time...

For some people it happens much earlier, sometimes even occurring during childhood.  For some it happens during a major life crisis that's easily identified as such, even by onlookers. For others it seems to never happen at all.  For me, it happened on a weekend in mid December 1991.  I was thirty-nine years old, my son was with his dad for the weekend, and I was to put the finishing touches to my undergraduate thesis, which needed to be complete to hand in on that next Tuesday, if I wanted to graduate with my class.

After so many years of wanting it, and an educational journey that had taken me to a total of six different colleges and universities, it finally seemed as if I was going to get my college degree! Eighteen months earlier I had enrolled in Geneva College's undergraduate degree program for 'non-traditional' students, those of us who hadn't managed to earn a college degree immediately after high school, were at least twenty-five years old, and had completed two years of college credits.  My class was an eclectic mix of ages, races, and socio-economic classes.

And that weekend it was all coming down to the wire.  For this particular program, in order to graduate, we all had to write the equivalent of a master's level research thesis. We worked on it across the entire eighteen months of the program, completing one part at a time, turning it in, getting it critiqued, rewriting and reworking it and then moving on to the next piece. I was down to my final rewrite when I sat down in front of the computer that Saturday morning.

This had been a difficult journey for me.  Because of old messages that were stuck in my psyche from my childhood, I'd had many challenges to overcome to get to this point. I was in therapy at the time, and luckily had a wonderful therapist, Sr. Bernadette, who had gotten me over the hurdles to this final point.  But this was Saturday morning, Sr. Bernadette wasn't available, and I had a deadline to meet. And I was STUCK!  Big time!!!

I sat in front of the computer and was unable to type a single word!  Those old messages were loud and strong: Do it right the first time or don't do it at all.  You're a failure, you're never going to amount to anything.  Why bother, you know you can't do it. Over and over, the old tapes played in my head.   I sat in front of the computer for the entire day, willing myself to just get it done, type something, anything. But nothing came.  I went to bed that night discouraged and dispirited, feeling that perhaps my mother was right after all, and I really was a failure.

The next morning, Sunday, my boyfriend, Ken, picked me up for church.  I'd never really liked going to church, never felt any kind of connection, but Ken was Catholic and went to church every Sunday, and I'd been raised Catholic and was expected to do the right thing, so I usually went with him. That morning it was a good excuse to get out of the house and away from the computer.

Ken attended a beautiful church that was built in the round.  There were stained glass windows that filtered the light in amazing ways, and a stained glass crucifix that hung over the central altar that always caught my attention as soon as I walked in.  The old priest that usually gave the sermon was funny and astute, and I usually found something of interest in what he had to say.  The rest of the mass was just, for me, something to get through before we went out to breakfast.

In the Catholic church it's customary to enter the church, find your pew, and kneel down to pray before actually taking your seat.  For me, this had always been a merely routine experience: recite a couple of Hail Mary's, a few Our Fathers, check to make sure that I'd spent enough time on my knees to be 'appropriate,' and then take my seat.  I went through the motions, that was it.

But this Sunday morning, something completely unexpected happened.  As I knelt to pray, I looked up at the crucifix and began to really speak to God, not just repeat memorized prayers from my catechism days, but speak from my heart.  "God, you know how much this degree means to me, how long I've wanted it, how hard I've worked. But I'm stuck. No matter what I did yesterday, I couldn't write a word.  I need help. So if you want me to get this degree, you need to write this thesis, because I can't."  As I finished speaking, I felt this wash of warm blue energy cover me from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet, as if someone had gently poured a bucket of something over me, and  I began to cry.

As I took my seat in the pew, Ken leaned over and quietly asked me what was wrong. I simply shrugged my shoulders and said I didn't know. I cried through the entire mass, a leaking of tears that seemed to have no end. 

When mass ended, Ken asked if I wanted to go to breakfast, but my deadline was looming so I shook my head and said I needed to get home to work on the thesis.  He dropped me off, I went in, changed clothes and sat down at the computer. The next thing I knew, it was hours later and I was standing beside the printer watching it spit out my finished thesis, all one hundred plus pages.  I don't remember typing. I don't remember eating or going to the bathroom. I don't remember anything from the time I sat down to start until I was watching the printer printing. 

That was my first time of knowing, truly knowing, without a doubt, that there was something greater than myself.  That 'something' had heard my prayers, heard my desperation, heard my plea, felt my surrender, and had answered. That Sunday morning in December 1991 was the conscious beginning of my spiritual journey. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Falling Water

Sometimes God uses strange messengers!

I grabbed the wet neck of the glass water bottle with my left hand, and the cap with my right, but before I could cap it, I felt the bottle slide through my fingers.  It hit the floor flat on its bottom, bounced once, and then fell over on its side, the water gulping out onto the floor. I picked up the bottle, put it on the kitchen counter, walked a couple of steps, plucked the kitchen towel off the handle of the refrigerator and dropped it on top of the puddle, using my post-op surgical boot to gently move the towel around on the floor to sop up the water. I picked up the towel and carried it out to the back porch, where I hung it over the handle of the vacuum to let it dry before I tossed in into the laundry basket.  Incident over.

So why am I telling you this?  Because after it happened, as I thought about it, I recognized what a powerful indicator this simple accident was of how much I have changed over the past years, how much I have healed.  Had this same thing happened five years ago, and maybe even two years ago, it would have had a much different effect on me, and probably on most of my morning.  I would have been caught up in negative self-talk: Boy are you stupid. What did you do that for? Pay attention to what you're doing. Can't you do anything right? I don't have time for this, and on and on and on.  I would have been angry at myself and that anger would have carried over into the rest of my day. That internal conversation would have gone on for far longer than it took to clean up the spill and move onto something else.  But that's how I used to be.

Funny how the littlest thing can give us the biggest insight!  True, I have to be aware and present, open to that insight coming in, but when I am, Wow! It's incredible to me how God is always working to show me how far I've come, how much progress I have made, how I'm not the person I used to be.  She wants me to recognize that I am different, that the work I have done over all these years to help myself heal, has made a difference.  She keeps proving to me that when I stay the course, do what needs to be done, change happens. Good change. Visible change. Important change.

In the grand scheme of things, the fact that I cleaned up that spill and moved on to other things without it effecting my ability to do so is barely consequential, barely worth mentioning.  But when I think of  the meaning of how I did what I did, well, that's not so inconsequential at all.