Step Forward – Fall Back?

I had a fairly significant business “event” occur last week. Some might call it a failure. A loss.

This “event” was disappointing, upsetting.

But beyond the momentary punch-to-the gut of it, I knew as this event happened that as a result, there were two paths I could go down as a result.

I could see it as a “setback“ and feel like a piece of shit. I could feel like a failure, slide into depression. Use it as evidence to feed the very familiar monster inside that is always looking for proof of my being a Loser incapable of keeping good things and making use of good opportunities.

Or I could use it as a stepping stone. I could take a beat to be upset, then take what lessons and information I needed to take out of it and keep it moving.

I allowed myself about a half hour to feel all the things I felt, and when I could, got very clear and honest with myself about my part in the equation.

I reflected. And then I regrouped. And then, as soon as I could, I took a positive action in the direction of my Big Picture.

Because I am in charge of my choices. Not the “powers that be.” They can make their choices. Those choices may affect me.

But I get to choose what happens next.

In this case, I rolled up my sleeves and made a new plan. Reached out to supports for ideas (and also to “normalize” the news – keep it out of a space of shame.)

I soon had a clear plan of action. And some pats on the shoulder that let me know I was not alone.

No means “not now,” “not yet” or “not me.” That’s all. This or something better.

I don’t believe in things setting me back. Things happen, and I can either allow them to be a reason I fall back, or a reason I step forward.

I know what I am choosing today. How about you?

#TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallemge #DayTwentyOne #resilience #reaction #empowerment

On the Road Again

My husband and I are driving a Penske truck filled with furniture from our last apartment In the Bronx, NY to Texas. We’ve made this trip before.

Last time, we drove the opposite way with the same furniture from my parents’ home just after we were married 8 years ago, just after my Dad died, a year after my brother died and two years after my mother did.

I was so grateful for that furniture at the time. Newly married, making a home with someone for the first time, I was thrilled to have really nice things to bring to our shared space, a new apartment we’d chosen together.

Having lived in a tiny studio apartment in the West Village of NYC for 18 years prior to this big change, I had no furniture to speak of. My husband had some nice things to bring from his place, but not enough. We were stretching our budgets to get our apartment. New furniture was not in the plan. So my parents was a blessing.

It was amazing how perfectly the furniture all worked together. We chose rich colors for the walls off of the colors in the rugs, and somehow, it all had an eclectic warmth that just felt right. So “us,” somehow. The us we were becoming.

For the first years of our marriage, in those years after those huge losses in which I grieved and lived as best I could, that furniture surrounded me and held me and filled the empty gaping hole their deaths left.

I cherished it all. I had my father’s bronzed baby cowboy boots as book ends. A china cabinet held bluebirds, brown ware and silver pieces from my mother’s collections. We ate off of plates and used pans brought up from their kitchen. Put drinks on coasters from their den.

Our bedroom furniture was from my parents first house. The first expensive rug they bought, a now-worn but still lovely Oriental, sat under their gorgeous dark wood dining table and chairs.

But somewhere along year 6, something began to shift in me, and now, 18 months later, after a Konmari wave that washed away my clutter, a new apartment search, offer, and purchase, a renovation, putting an apartment on the market, a sale, a closing, a move, and a settling in, here I am. Day two of a three day journey to take much of that furniture to a new home.

My cousin, who my parents loved, who has a lovely wife and two young kids and a house, is happily taking the furniture off my hands. Whatever he did not take, others in NY needed and wanted.

Tomorrow we reach Austin, where the pieces will be put in their new home.

And I will let go. Of the grieving time. Of the me that has lived these 8 years in the after-shock, doing my best.

I feel such a mix of sadness and relief and excitement. Sadness because I still wish they were here instead of their things. Relief because something is done that I seem to have needed to do. Some job I unconsciously took on will soon be complete. And excitement is for this next part, whatever it will be.

Today I crave space. I want to be surrounded by things that resonate the me I am today. Our new home in no way resembles our last. And I love it with its new colors and furniture, and kickass river views.

I kept one chair out of it all. And reupholstered it. It looks wonderful there, surrounded by our new pieces, our new rugs.

At the end of the first day’s drive, we were treated to a blazing orange sky. Since my mother passed, I am convinced that beautiful sunsets are her way of letting me know she is there, loving me. It was clear that she, my Dad and brother, approve of this trip.

My parents and brother are still with me. But now they fill my heart space. I carry them wherever I go.

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For Laura

I know some incredible women.

It is one of those women’s birthday today.

Some people just blow you away. Laura inspires me daily. She is an artist, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. A leader. A teacher. An activist. A community contributor. An active citizen.

She lost her 20 year old brother to suicide in 2000. Rather than fall into despair, she has used her grief to create, educate, help and heal.

Read about one of her creations, Arts & Dreams, and the incredible work they do here.

Enjoy her art work here.

Laura reminds me to live creatively, lovingly, with ample doses of self-forgiveness.

I am so lucky she was born and that I know her.

She Is
Scarlet lips
Piercing chocolate eyes
Portals who see your soul
Lives in brush strokes
Of love and thoughtful heart
Colors rich with knowing
Midwife of self-love
Earth angel saving
wretched alone-hearts
One mantra at a time

For Me

A few years back, a teacher suggested to me the idea that when challenges happen in my life (“challenges” being a woke way of saying when bad shit happens) I ask the question “Why is this happening for me?” rather than “Why is this happening to me?”

That everything that is happening contains lessons that are designed to contribute to some necessary growth that ultimately will contribute to my living my greatest life.

It is a lovely idea. Unless, that is, you are in it. When it is feeling like the Universe is is just out to get you, the idea that things are happening for your highest good can seem, well, ridiculous.

In those moments, I tend to feel like a total victim. In my mind, I am sure that somewhere there are people whose lives are working out just great. That there are people to whom these shitty things do not happen.

I bemoan why these things must happen to me. Does the Universe think so little of me? Am I such a loser that I do not deserve good?

This response to difficult or bad things happening is learned. It comes from a wounding from long ago, at an age when I had no ways to cope. No way of understanding bad things happening other than to assume that it was my fault: that I was in some way not worthy of good.

This wound and the subsequent thinking and feeling habits that developed out of it seem to be getting kicked up again and again lately.

It’s this new apartment and the renovation and new furniture.

(I know, I know. These are luxury problems. It isn’t what they are. It’s what they kick up.)

Without realizing it, somehow, somewhere in my psyche some part of me, the wounded part, has loaded this new home with some kind of meaning that runs way deeper than up leveling to a newer, nicer home.

This new place and new things seem to represent something that is impossible to reach or maintain. Unbeknownst to me, some part of me needs this home to be perfect.

Things keep happening. A strange stain on the new velvet couch that I sweat was not there before. A little work spot on a new leather chair that I also swear was not there before. The furniture is not even in use yet! We’ve had it all covered as we’ve finally moved in.

I would almost believe there’s a sprite or gremlin playing tricks on me.

This all started weeks ago. First the new floor buckled in places. The very well-put-in floor. Then the AC leaked and caused a tiny bit of damage. Then the spot on the velvet couch I mentioned that was not there until it was: it can only be seen at an angle, but still. It was perfect. Now it is marred. Then the marks in the leather chair. How? When? Who?

Each new event sends me into this painful spin of confusion – disbelief, anger, hurt. Why? Why us? Why our new things? Can’t we have one month to enjoy this place before things become marred?

Am I such a loser that I do not deserve nice things?

Then I get enraged. Why do others get happy lives and my one chance at goodness is once again stripped away from me? Can’t I have just one beautiful thing for a moment?

Woah. I know this is all way too loaded for just this situation. I don’t remember ever feeling this way before about any place or thing. And yet here I am and it is deep. Things are being triggered here!

And I know, I know. These are total luxury problems.

I should be grateful for the abundance. And I am. But why are the gifts I get always dented?

It can feel so dark and sad.

I guess it is time to tend to that girl’s wound. The one who first decided that she was unworthy of good.

I see I have someone to get to know.

I breathe and try to trust that I will gain clarity at some point. I try to remember that this is happening for me. That there is an opportunity for me to heal something. I am just so murky and in it right now. I cannot see it. Yet.

But I will.

And I will grow through it, somehow.

And I will gain a new friend, if she’ll have me. The wounded girl.

Ah ha.

There is is…

Just “for me.”

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Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown(-through?)

Fifteen months ago, I began a deep letting go process.

I was very sick, suffering from an unexplained exhaustion that kept me housebound for much of the summer.

Coincidentally, for a year my husband and I had been waiting for a larger apartment in our building to become available. We were happy where we were. We just wanted another bedroom and a larger kitchen.

In the beginning of this “sick summer,” one of these larger apartments became available. It was being sold unlisted, by the owner, who would not price it. “What will you pay for it?” he asked.

And so I began to look around, to see what was in the neighborhood that was comparable, to get an educated idea of the value of the apartment.

And along the way, I began to see possibilities that I had never even let myself imagine for us.

I saw apartments, alright. And some not with just an additional room and larger kitchen.

I saw some with balconies and a gorgeous view of the river! With a seasonal pool!

What?!

For us?

Could we?

Who were we to have such niceness?

It was a real stretch for my husband and I to imagine buying such an apartment.

The move we had been considering before this exploration of what was out there in our ‘hood would have been almost lateral. If we’d gotten that apartment in our building, we’d have basically recreated the apartment we have had these 8 years since marrying. I am pretty sure we’d literally have just brought over everything, just changed the kitchen and added a room.

We’ve both loved the home we made together. Somehow, his furniture and the furniture we brought up from my parents’ houses in Texas after my Dad died three months before our marriage all blended into an eclectic, beautiful style.

We have loved our home.

But I now realize that even before the summer, I had been working towards this letting go, this deep clean, this moving on, this full-on “now” presence in my own adult life.

In January I did a sweep of all my things and let go of a great deal. Yes, I applied as much of the Konmari technique as I could, and it was amazing, and freeing. I even finally went into stuff in storage and let it all go…stuff from my parents’ house I had not been able to deal with or use that had sat there since 2010.

I thought, great! I did it! My therapist and I applauded my actions.

And yet. I was still surrounded by furniture and other things that were my parents’, my mother’s, my grandmother’s. And I could feel the heaviness of it.

And so somehow, unconsciously, this drive to move took over. We daringly made an offer on the apartment with the view. It was accepted.

Uh oh.

This was not a lateral move. It was a stretch up. Way up.

We hired an interior designer to help. What?! Who am I?

(I call him the wedding coordinator I did not let myself have. Brilliant call.)

And I made a Big Decision: We. Would. Get. All. New. Furniture.

All my parents’ stuff? Letting it go! But how?! Some stuff can go to the Salvation Army, but my parents’ stuff?? Most of our furniture I couldn’t bear to give to strangers.

In December, impulsively, my cousin, who loved my parents and has a wonderful wife and two little kids, happened to take a trip up here from Texas for a weekend. I asked if they’d mind looking at our stuff to see if they might want anything down the road.

Miraculously, they agreed to take most of it. They were thrilled! (I was elated!)

Other friends who just happened to be buying new, larger homes who were in need and interested are taking the rest.

It makes me so happy for it to go to people who will use and love it. To not have it sit in storage, unused.

I have kept just one item. An upholstered chair that had been my great grandmother’s, that I had climbed up into as a toddler in my grandma’s house. A chair that my mother had kept. A chair that I have always loved.

We have had it reupholstered and the wood frame repainted. It had to be basically remade. (My husband still thinks it a bit crazy of me.)

I cannot wait to see it with the beautiful new pieces that we chosen for our new home. It gives me a deep joy, and I feel love around it.

We are on the precipice of actually moving in now. We closed on the apartment one year ago. Began renovating it in January.

Most of the process has been relatively smooth: the getting financing, board approval in the new building. The renovation. The decisions. The shopping. The decorating.

Putting our current apartment on the market. Going into contract.

Our current apartment closes next week.

And so here I am, packing and sorting. The move is actualizing now. What has been theory up until now is happening.

I have let go of most things. The rugs/furniture are all spoken for. Most doodads have been given away.

But some I just could not part with yet. Things of my mothers that were in a china cabinet that will now go to my cousin’s.

I have these things in a few small boxes in storage. They won’t be in the new place. I really want to let them go. I just find it so hard to give them to a thrift store. But I am working towards it.

My mother’s china, my cousin wants. Yay! But these other things…

I now realize some part of me is afraid I will wish for them someday. When I am old and alone, won’t I want to be surrounded by proof I lived and was loved?

And deeper yet: if I let these things go, does it make me a bad daughter? Does it mean I loved my parents less?

Am I a bad person if I do not keep the little blue bird figurines my mother collected?

Will she feel forgotten or unappreciated if I just let them go?

Who am afraid it will hurt?

These are difficult questions. There is reconciling to do, which doesn’t happen overnight.

Maybe Konmari can do it swiftly, the way she does.

I am doing the Curry Technique for this final bit. I am in a life/shifting, deep dive excavation of my very soul. I have been living this process that has been 18 months in the making to get here now, on the verge of really letting go of all this physical evidence of my parents and brother, now dead some years.

Of really moving on from these years of grieving. These years of finding a new paradigm. Of finding a new footing in this world without three very key people in it.

It has gotten quite challenging here at the end. We’ve had some new apartment issues. The new wood floor has buckled in places. The central AC’s leaked.

What does it mean? What is it reflecting about our process? The floor is literally the very foundation of our home. The leak? Is it literal tears?

These issues at this point have felt overwhelming. Like the last 6 miles of a marathon.

(I have had fantasies of selling the apartment and all the new stuff in it as is and living out of one suitcase somewhere. Yesterday I had to force myself to drive home. Everything in me wanted to drive away and never return. Seriously.)

Yet here I am. Putting one foot in front of the other. Showing up. Letting go daily.

I am continuing to walk to the edge of this precipice.

Here I am. On the verge.

And soon, in just days, I will leap.

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Eyes Wide Shut

For the gathousandth time

I look in my own eyes

Searching for a glimpse of her

The girl I was

All I see is shadowy pain

Dimmed promise

Blighted hope

Battered belief

I search still

Who is left in there

Whose pain is being reflected

Whose fatigue

Whose caution and fear

If eyes are the window to the soul

It’s time to move

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