March 29, 2011
Writing & Elvis Part 2, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 13
erhaps, I should be a tad more specific. Elvis is a changed dog. A tiny matte-black Pomeranian, friends rescued him a few years, and he was pretty unhappy. The first time, and many times thereafter, he would snarl, and bark, and assume a threatening pose each time I re-introduced myself. But as I said earlier, he’s a changed dog. Today he comes right up to say hello, following on the heels of Henry who was first in line. Sweet Henry is another rescue. Blind in one eye, he was needfully displaced from his home along with his female companion, Lilly. But it’s Elvis who has changed.
Eager to greet me, he snoodles my palm, and licks my fingers as I extend them for him to verify. He is openly accepting of my back scratches, eventually rolling over. He exposes his short-haired wiry belly and keeps his eyes tightly shut. Now I am unsure, hesitantly rub his tummy. He remains there on the cool marble tile, stretching out his hind legs stiffly. Eyes still squeezed shut, he almost looks as if he is smiling. He lets me soothe and scratch and only moves again when I stop touching him. Yep, Elvis has changed.
It took a lot of work, much use of GOD given patience, and a lot of love. Sometimes, he still has nervous moments, but socially… well, it’s just amazing. Proving, of course, that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and that an old dog can teach us some as well. You’re never too old to learn to trust. Trust in GOD, and be amazed. The peace given in even the most troubled times, will amaze you. When you realize that you’ve found your way through the maze to a peaceful place, it’s amazing. With amazing grace, immersed in surroundings of sorrow, my heart is lifted up. So, it seems for the moment, this morning after my mother’s funeral, I’m ok enjoying the Floridian sunshine, drinking coffee on the lanai, and keeping company with Elvis.
March 21, 2011
Writing & Elvis Part 1, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 12
I began taking a rather free-form class a few weeks ago. The premise is to exercise our writing skills with 10 and 30 minute free-writes. We started with lists –which you would think would be easy for me. More than once, I was stumped.
Some of the participants mentioned a routine of writing three free-write pages every morning. I thought it would make more sense to do that at night, after a day of events had passed. But that didn’t work out so well. My cramped writing fingers flustered along spewing row after row of complaints and negativity.
I reconsidered the morning pages, and perhaps making the exercise a devotional – a way to “positize” my day from the start. Truthfully, though the words whirled through my head, I never got them down on paper. It’s hard to do that in the shower, and by the time I got out, I’d be in GO mode. The good news is that I would also be in a more GOD mode. That’s something that I’ve truly needed these past few weeks.
Through the evening exercises, I noticed that I was unhappy. At least, I thought I was unhappy. I am now unhappier. Well, maybe that’s not accurate either. I have unhappier moments. Mostly, I am peaceful. At least, so far this morning I’m peaceful.
Whether I’m at peace with it all, or just at peace with the current GO mode, it’s hard to tell. So, I concentrate on the GOD mode. I’m ok enjoying the sunshine, drinking coffee, and keeping company with Elvis.
March 13, 2011
Reactive, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 11
Here’s a secret: I’m working on my people skills.
Ok, now that you’re done laughing, let me rephrase; I’m working on my toleration skills, and trying to be more non-reactive. I’ve had a lot to react to lately. I’m not sure I’ve handled everything perfectly , but I’m sure I’ve handled not reacting better than I have in the past.
For instance, I have a neighbor. Everyone one has neighbors….
I mean I have a NEIGHBOR. The kind that makes you want to react, and for a while I did react. Badly. This neighbor thinks I drop too many things, that my 10 pound cat is a 100 pound Labrador, and floors should be as solid as Stonehenge and never squeak.
How do I know this? There’s the banging on my floor (their ceiling). It’s very consistent: three loud, rapid succession, slaps on the wall or ceiling. They get angrier as the weekend goes by. I cook. I clean. I walk around. I do laundry and open and close closets and drawers. I sometimes drop the slippery shampoo tube in the shower, or completely forget myself and tap a utensil on the side of a pot before placing it in the spoon holder.
I went through a tit-for-tat phase. A knock on the floor lead to a foot stomp. A slam on the wall lead to door and drawer slamming. Repeated offenses were met with prolonged vacuuming and longer than probably required use of the garbage disposal. I thought I felt good about this, showing my passive/aggressive displeasure with their unreasonable displeasure.
“Stand Back Up,” is a Sugarland song that you’ve probably never heard on the radio but I think it’s one of their best, stating, “You’ll know just the moment when I’ve had enough.” That day came for me back in November while I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner for one. I moved around too much. Bang, bang, bang. I wasn’t as quiet as a church mouse when I put the turkey in the oven. Bang, bang, bang. I put a glass lid on a glass casserole. Bang, bang, bang. I dropped a stirring spoon. Bang, bang, bang.
I threw up my unhappy, holiday lonely, frustrated hands, which caught the handle of the gravy pot on the way down. Yep, the pot came off the stove and hit the floor with a thud. BANG, BANG, BANG. That was my moment, I reacted. Stomp, stomp, stomp went my feet. Slam, slam, slam went the oven door. Bang, bang, bang went the mop. Stomp, stomp, stomp went my feet again on their way over to the living room vent where I dropped to all fours and yelled as loud as I possibly could into the slatted opening, “It’s an apartment! Get over it!” Immensely proud I am, of the fact the not a single explicative escaped my mouth.
However, since that episode and the following necessary self-reporting to the apartment office staff, I’ve begun to think of those song lyrics in different terms. Since then, I’ve used that line to keep myself in check many times. Especially, when I need to remind myself that I have not reached my toleration limit.
“Love they neighbor” keeps coming to mind. I wonder if the only thing that keeps my neighbor busy is banging. I feel pity for the constant anger they must be living in. If love includes pity, then I guess I am headed in the right direction.
It helps tremendously to know that the being with bat-like hearing below me will be moving at the end of this month. Now when the banging starts, I laugh. Sometimes out loud and extra loudly, but mostly to myself.
March 08, 2011
Determination, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 10
I had a brief shining day of success a few weeks ago. Everything was going well. I felt… optimistic. It is after all the Year of the Rabbit. Happy with my job, feeling great, loving my neighborhood., travel plans arranged…
The emergency room trip took a bite out of that balloon and left me … deflated.
The expense of the episode, doctor office follow ups, prescription expenses and losing about a week of my life, has rearranged things a bit.
For me, physical and mental well-being are tied together. I’m struggling to rise to my former self. Wet melancholy is not my favorite place to be, but at least I recognize it’s where I am at the moment. No matter how hard I shake, it will not roll off. It’s not usually this difficult to pull myself out of the pity-pool and towel off. Why is it harder this time? I don’t know. I could guess, but I don’t want to.
All I know is that I’m not happy to compromise any of my plans for this year. I’ll accept a compromised level of unhealthy stress to avoid consuming disappointment. My plate’s been full of that, and I’m very tired of it. So, I’ll struggle through the next few months until I have some of my life under control.
I’m a little afraid of optimism, and euphoria. They’ve always let me down. Now though, I have a store of self-righteous inspired anger and dogged pit-bull determination. Nothing and no one will take away my plans. I’ll have to work harder at everything. But I’m going to make it work. All of it; not just parts. That’s not optimism – that’s determination.
March 05, 2011
grey ice sits in a strained
blue cradle, taut like
the covers of a bed
when someone else makes it.